Some Mac task management apps allow you to use a keystroke to create a task from an Apple Mail message, and then have that task link back to the Mail message. This is particularly handy if, like me, many of your tasks originate from Mail messages. If you’re a Toodledo user, you can do this as well, although it will require you to purchase a third-party Mail plugin.
No sooner do we write about how to spruce up Toodledo with User Styles, than Toodledo goes out and spruces itself up with a new user interface. Earlier today, the interface was rolled out. The bad news? The interface conflicts with the user style I was using, and probably others as well. The good news? The default user interface is pretty nice on its own.
I love Toodledo. Ever since I crowned it my task manager of choice over a year ago, it has remained as one of the main tools in my productivity arsenal. Read our prior review for a look at why it stands as such a strong task management app for geeks. One shortcoming of Toodledo, and a factor that keeps many people from using it, is the user interface. To put it bluntly, it’s ugly. But it doesn’t have to be. With very little effort, you can turn Toodledo into a visually appealing productivity tool.
Producteev won me over a while back with the smooth way they integrate into your already established workflow. The pretty helped too — pretty is a necessity for me when looking at a task list — but it was the Google Calendar integration, and the ability to interact with and create tasks from email, IM, and more that clinched it for me. As a Gmail user, I have access to a nifty widget, and Google Apps users get even tighter integration.
Enough about me and my Google services, though! We’re here to talk about you — and did you know that Producteev has just launched an Outlook plugin that let’s you single-click emails directly to tasks? And that’s not all… they’ve also announced a two-way sync with Google Tasks, and have some native apps on the way! You like? Read on for details!
Outlook is powerful software, but it lacks mobility, which is a tough thing when you use it as your main task manager in this day and age. Producteev makes Outlook tasks portable by allowing you to take them to the cloud by way of a tightly integrated Outlook plugin. With the plugin, you can add emails to tasks in Producteev with a single click of the flag button, and with the integrated Producteev tab, you can assign it to others, add priority stars, etc. The plugin only allows you to sync with one workspace at a time, but you can choose for the sync to be two-way, Outlook to Producteev, or Producteev to Outlook only, and you can change workspaces right from Outlook, as well.
I was honestly under the impression that people cared about Google Tasks about as much as they do about Buzz, Wave and Sidewiki. Or Orkut. Apparently, I was gravely mistaken, as Google is invested enough in Tasks that they went through the trouble of launching a Tasks API at Google I/O this month. Producteev was right there with them, and has created a two-way revolving door with the in-Gmail task manager.
It’s a pretty cool integration, actually. It allows you to create tasks in Google and have them sync to your Producteev workspace where they will have their own label (the list’s name) automatically assigned. It also works the other way, bringing your workspace’s tasks into Google where you can quickly check on them and interact with them without leaving your email. Yayy efficiency!
Check out the quick screencast on the integration, below:
I advise you to be careful when using Google Tasks sync, however. It is, at this point, only designed to handle a connection from one Producteev workspace. If you use several workspaces concurrently, like I do in my Producteeev GTD setup, and you, say, I don’t know… connect them all… at once — well, let’s just say you will end up with an ever-growing and duplicating list of tasks as the workspaces sync them, and then re-sync them, one after the other, after the other, after the other. *grins* Thankfully, they all show up under one label and so were easy to delete.
If you do use multiple workspaces in your productivity setup, I recommend using only your most important workspace in Google Tasks sync. You could also use it for a priority tasks list, or to keep your Projects workspace handy at a glance.
Producteev hasn’t forgotten about the users out there who prefer native apps. They have had them in the works for some time now, and that awesome little tree is about to bear its fruit. A Mac app is due to hit the mainstream by the end of this month, and Windows will get a native app in mid-June. That’s straight out of the mouth (well… email) of Producteev founder Ilan Abehassera, so doubt me at your peril! Ilan also said that a fancy new Android app will be available in early June, as well.
Here’s a look at the Mac app (from the Producteev Blog):
What do you think of Producteev’s new integrations?
We like useful tech here at 40Tech, and spend a fair amount of time talking about productivity related apps. We’ve written more than a few posts talking about ways we’ve used tech to make our busy lives a little more sane, and a little while back, we asked people to show us their own workflows. We wanted to see how our readers integrate tech into their daily lives to keep them productive. We received some comments on the post, some notes on Twitter and Facebook, and even had a few email conversations with folks, and have decided to feature a couple of the more involved methods.
Today’s feature, by freelance graphics and web designer Chase Mann, involves a GTD process that includes Evernote, Outlook, Microsoft’s OneNote, and a few other choice bits of technology:
Getting Things Done (GTD) with Evernote, Outlook and OneNote
I’m a freelance graphics & web designer that uses a tablet pc. In short, these are the tools that I’ve found work best for me:
Moleskin notebook & pen, Smartphone with Evernote app.
Dropbox to automatically sync all client files and research folders.
Outlook for Contacts, Calendar & Tasks. (connected with Gmail).
OneNote as my written-note capture and Working space (on my tablet-pc) with a GTD Notebook for current Projects.
Evernote as my magic, portable filing cabinet & reference library.
I then tweaked all these programs and setups to better fit my workflow needs.
The GTD Workflow
I begin my GTD workflow by keeping my Moleskin notebook and Android phone as my immediate capture devices, which I then process into my Evernote Inbox notebook. Because I have design software on both my desktop and my tablet pc, and I’m constantly making changes to client files and gathering research resources, I use Dropbox to have the most updated client files and research folders automatically synced between all of my devices.
My projects tend to be mostly digital so I rely heavily on email communications (and some telephone conversations), but I tell all my clients that I prefer email so we both have documented project conversations. Outlook has quickly become my main communications & scheduling hub. Once I am referred a potential client, I setup a meeting to discuss project needs via whatever medium they prefer. I always take notes during the conversation and then email a copy to the client as my first follow-up step. If the client chooses me for the project, then I make new notebooks in both Evernote and OneNote specifically for that client and that project.
As I have time to sort through my inboxes, I’m able to organize and set tasks up as Projects. All Projects get their own notebook created in OneNote. I also attach that notebook to all possible related contacts in Outlook.
Why the heck would I use Outlook? I love the integration of Outlook and OneNote (2010 versions). I like being able to take an email about a client meeting and actually turn it into a task AND an appointment on my Calendar. I love being able to set reminders on tasks and calendar items too. It’s my tickler system. Easy.
As I process emails, they either get turned into scheduled tasks, flagged with a reminder tickler, sent to Evernote as reference, or sent to OneNote for current working projects. A major benefit of sending an email from Outlook to OneNote is that any attachments on the email show up as attached files in OneNote. How cool is that?!
From the beginning, I had decided that Evernote would be my magical, brain-dump, inbox, filing cabinet. My very own research and records department that I can conveniently carry around in my pocket and access via a variety of mobile options. I setup Evernote using Bobby’s article with some tweaks to better suit my workflow.
Since Evernote came out with sub-notebooks, I find it easier to use those on my Android phone. I created a “Clients” notebook with sub-notebooks for each client by name. “Inbox” is my default notebook and “References” notebook, because I like moving items out of the Inbox notebook as part of my review process. I also created a “Coffee” notebook because I’m heavily involved in the coffee industry.
For all of my own personal projects, I create “@Project-name” tags to easily find them and I created a “!clients” tag for quickly marking items for later processing into the actual client’s sub-notebook. Since I really don’t use Evernote for my GTD (I prefer Outlook and OneNote for that), the only other tags I used were Bobby’s suggestion of Reference Materials, with a “folder” tag for each letter of the alphabet … which I further break down into actual tags. So A, would also have Apple, Art, Amphibians, etcetera … whatever tags make the most sense to me when I capture the item.
I do most of my project research via the internet and send pages, selections and images to Evernote with the !clients tag into my Inbox notebook for later sorting. Next I sort through my research materials and send selected items over to the project’s notebook in OneNote and create a mood-board page so I can mix and match items organically and scribble notes wherever I feel like it.
OneNote is my working desktop so I try to keep it tidy by not using it as a reference tool, even though I could. The reason I prefer OneNote over Evernote for projects is because with a tablet PC I have the freedom to scribble hand-written notes anywhere I like in OneNote — then I can right click them and convert them into typed text. I also keep a section called “Scribbles” in each Client’s section group so that I can scribble notes and ideas as they hit me, then I convert them into tasks or reference material during my daily review of projects. I try my best to stay organized as I go so I have less processing to do during reviews.
One extra thing I did with OneNote was to setup a Clients Notebook where I created a section-group for each client with a Projects section that has pages and sub-pages for each active project I have with that client. I have an All Projects section in my GTD Notebook that lists all my currently active projects which has a wiki-style link to the Client’s section-group, and the specific Projects section for that client (and vice versa). This way I’m able to move around quickly within OneNote. I have To Do lists in each Client section-group and have those wiki-linked to a main To Do list in my GTD Notebook. I also set up an Archives section in each of the Client’s section-groups where I send the individual projects when they are totally complete. This way I only have current working projects in the active Projects section of both my GTD Notebook and my Clients Notebook.
Another reason I prefer to keep Evernote for reference and OneNote as my Projects organizer is so I can use the power of tags in each program respectively. I like being able to list all my tags across all notebooks in OneNote and know that they are project-related.
When I’m looking for a reference item, I know to just search by tags in Evernote and copy/paste only the necessary bits I need (instead of entire articles or web pages) over into OneNote.
I do a daily review each morning so I can make new daily lists, and I do a Sunday morning weekly review. I do mine in the mornings so that I’ve not got a lot on my mind when I’m trying to go to sleep at night.
So that’s my current workflow – thought it is still developing and being refined. I’m curious if someone has done something similar, but with Google apps or other free apps?
Chase Mann is the owner of Aim It Media, a creative design and marketing company for entrepreneurs and small businesses. You can connect with him via his many comments on 40Tech, or catch him on Twitter as @AimItMedia, @MyCoffeePro, or @Creativarty