Welcome to our Productivity App-apalooza! Premiere Edition! Ray, Augusto, Francis and Art use and experiment with hundreds of apps per year in our productive lives. So, we’ve decided to these Productivity App-apalooza episodes every so often to cover software and services that we use and recommend to others. We hope you enjoy, and let us know the apps you’re using that are helping you be more productive!
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The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher
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Voiceover Artist 0:00
Are you ready to manage your work and personal world better to live a fulfilling productive life, then you’ve come to the right place productivity cast, the weekly show about all things productivity. Here, your host Ray Sidney-Smith and Augusto Pinaud with Francis Wade and Art Gelwicks.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 0:17
Welcome everybody to productivity casts the weekly show about all things productivity, I’m recently Smith and I’m joined here with Augusto Pinaud with Francis Wade and Art Gelwicks. And today is our first productivity. App-apalooza, the Premiere Edition. I’m very excited, we’re going to be talking about a software applications that each of us either use or enjoy or recommend to people quite often. And we’re going to make this a regular thing every every so often, we’re going to do an apple Palooza. And the way it’s going to be designed is we’re going to have three rounds. We’re going to turn the microphone over to each of us to talk a little bit about each application that we are recommending, and then we will continue round. Right, Robin. And so round one. Let’s get started. Art your up? What’s your first application.
Art Gelwicks 1:08
All right, since I drew the short straw to go first, by default of alphabetical name, which I think is the culprit here. Mine is and I’ll put this out for all three of mine. I have a requirement around these apps that they not only have a mobile component, but also a web or desktop component, because I believe that you need to be more than just single platform for things to truly be functional. So my first one is an app and website called workflow workflow with a why it is a text centric outlining tool. But it’s it has a unique approach to the outlining model. If you imagine each layer of the outline being a document, it allows you to drill down layer after layer after layer and create a unlimited numbers of well in the paid version in the in the free version, there’s a cap Unlimited, a vast number of entries and text content, including striking out items as tasks that they’re completed. Being able to share pages, which is probably the easiest way I found to share content with people, it’s literally grab a link and send it to them. That’s it not particularly difficult. And it is very clean and very fast. It is completely browser independent. And it works great with their mobile client, which they’re actually in the process of updating on Android,
Raymond Sidney-Smith 2:40
but also on the desktop as well. And it has a lot of keyboard functionality. If I recall,
Art Gelwicks 2:45
it does if you are a keyboard shortcut kind of person, you can just live in workflow. It’s amazing how fast you can crank out content and capture information, it doesn’t do some things, it doesn’t do image embedding, it struggles a little bit with links right now, which I know is something that they’re working on. But for, for just organizing thoughts and gathering content together and sharing text centric content, I have yet to find anything that that is more robust and better handling of that pure content than workflow A this
Raymond Sidney-Smith 3:20
is someone who had just been recently asking about how to do outlining in an application that was really slick. They were they they wanted more functionality than say Microsoft Word. And they wanted maybe some of the flexibility of visualizing using mind mapping. And I’d recommend it to them workflow because you’re able to export into OPM L, which means that most of the you know mind mapping software is will import the HTML file and be able to produce a mind map from the file. So not everything, obviously, you know, it’s all not going to all be relatively, not all of it is going to be interpreted perfectly. But I thought it was really cool.
Art Gelwicks 4:04
If I’m outlining an article I’m writing for my blog, often I’ll write it now in workflow and then grab it and dump it into one note to clean up
Francis Wade 4:11
a question, what’s the what’s the benefit of going into one North off the Atlantic and workflow.
Art Gelwicks 4:17
For me, my my actual workflow for publishing is all structured within a series of one note notebooks and sections. So the raw text entry capability within workflow, he is very streamlined and allows me to focus on the actual writing process, I kind of cheat a little bit, because what I do is I do each line and each small paragraph as a section in the outline. That way, I can drag them around very easily. And quickly within the workflow outline. Once I have it all structured together, I can dump it over into one note, and walk it through the rest of my, my publishing workflow process, which includes my SEO checks, and you know, where it gets published to, and that I’ve been able to push content out social media updates and things like that. So workflow, we can do that you can create those structures in there, it just happens to be that I do the majority of my work on one note, so it’s easy to make that leap over.
Francis Wade 5:12
Augusto Pinaud 5:13
Well, my first doesn’t follow any of the requirements that are hard for them that it was kind of funny that they are based on the focus I’ve been using only focus for longer than I’m going to admit. So basically, from the day they released.
And it’s been solid, has always been a solid platform. And by the time this show come out, the problem is the version of how many folks I’m using today, it’s going to be obsolete, because there is a new version coming out, they will have soon a component for web browser that I’m really excited about it. And they are changing a lot of things in this platform, including what for some people has been an issue that is a dependency on context. And now they are going to, they are going to also have the ability to do tags, and other things. So
So probably, I will bring this piece of software, again, into this conversation when the new version comes out. And I had a chance to really play with it a little bit.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 6:23
Yeah, I mean, one of the one of the things about Omni focus is that you know, when people and in this particular case, Omni focus to is when whenever I’m at any one of the GTD meetups, New York or DC, people pretty much use all kinds of other tools. And then there’s a block there’s, you know, this this group of people who are all Omni focus users, and and they all they all really love it, you know, they really enjoy using the software, and so on the focus, again, for my purposes don’t doesn’t fit some of the requirements art has mature are similar to mine, you know, in terms of having to be multi platform and having to have a web version, because I am sometimes on client site without access to my own devices. So I need to be able to access my world through sometimes very secure environments where I need to log into my software and sometimes even remote in and and I want to be able to access them through the web browser if I’d like to. So gusto, can you tell talk a little bit about some of the feature set of Omni focus in terms of its GTD inspired feature set
Augusto Pinaud 7:31
the version, the version two, it’s really the version one and version two, there were both really GTD centric, and that was part of the reason I started using out of time I, the application came out I was really my work conditions, GTD fit really, really well on what I was doing. But he’s a really robust piece of software, you know, and when I stop using most of the elements of the of the Getting Things Done methodology, I was easily able to tweak on the focus to really accomplish what I wanted to do even when you could not use things like task. Sorry, like, not task will will be really useful, useless to have a software for getting things done. If you cannot do task. What I mean with tax was a G on even though you couldn’t reduce tax there was the pro version has one thing that they call perspective that it was awesome. It’s a little geeky, but it but it was awesome. And you could do incredible things. I think the problems they have was it perspective, it was a little too geeky for most people, and then most people never understood how you could really get the power that I think now that the version 3.0 willing to tax, a lot of people will be able to get a lot more out of that and enjoy really the robustness of Omni focus.
Francis Wade 9:03
Will it be available in on Windows anytime soon?
Augusto Pinaud 9:06
I don’t know if it’s coming to Windows, I know is going to go to online first. I don’t know if they are going to go on pursue Chrome OS on windows are justice day on the online world. I think the answer will probably depend on the implementations. I know people has been crying for a Windows version for many, many years. And the army focus group has or has always, you know being resistant to it. So finally, they are going to release the the web browser and I would like to guess that that’s as far as they’re going to go on their multi platform efforts.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 9:49
And I’ve heard that there are implementations of Windows versions of Omni focused by third parties. And through through various synchronizing services, I none of coming to my mind at the moment. And there is I think one other web web interface for Omni focus that that exists out there. And if I find it, I’ll put it in the show notes. But the but I don’t believe they’ll ever come to to Windows proper,
kind of correcting my prior thoughts on the matter.
I don’t think they’ll ever I mean, they’re there. They’re built that you know, as their their notice here says a, you know, supposed to be a compliment to their to their system so that if you’re in a Windows environment for a couple of hours, you can you can still access what you what you have. All right. Moving right along, Francis, what’s your first application,
Francis Wade 10:38
It’s Skedpal. Ah, so I think I have to offer a disclaimer because I have a material interest in Skype file. I don’t want to a very, very tiny percentage of, of shares. As a result of getting involved in the program. And the app, maybe about three years ago, I wrote my book, the first edition, and then a month later discovered scat pile and then started to change everything that I had not everything. But a good portion of what I’d written in my book, just within a few weeks of writing itself gave me a bit of a problem. But what the program does is helps the person who is trying to reshuffle all of their commitments, sort of mentally. So they’re there folks who commit to so much that this mental task takes place every day. And it’s a bit of an onerous one, because it’s tough to keep up when there’s lots of interruptions and to keep track of what you had intended to do and what you wanted to do. Even if you write down your schedule every day, especially if you do maybe because then you’re really present to the chaos that happens when the uninterrupted things take place. And trying to do it manually has always been a challenge and cause people to sort of give up even the effort of doing it. It gets tedious, it takes a very long time, it takes a lot of overhead to try to keep your schedule straight, just using your head. So what’s good about those, it’s sort of acts like magic eight ball, sort of my my latest analogy, is remember the magic eight ball, he used to ask the question and then sort of shake it, and then it will come up with these sort of inane answers like it depends, you know? Well, scalpel is a bit like the magic eight ball in that. You You’re asking it, instead of asking any questions, you’re asking, what should I work on? Next? You shake the eight ball, and it does all these internal accommodations, and then comes up with an answer a suggestion, here’s what you should work on next. And the way it does that is by in the background, operating like a like a GPS of all your tasks, in that it constantly re computes all of the tasks that you’ve given it the different priorities, you’ve assigned to the groupings, that has sort of a
melange of prioritization schemes in the background using AI. And it constantly is readjusting at, at your demand the best sort of the best course to take or the best sequence of tasks to follow. You shake the magic eight ball up the on the front end, and then it just tells you Okay, here’s what you should work on next.
it’s provided for me, at least an hour or so savings per day, half an hour to an hour, when I would normally have to sit down and and try to figure out okay, given the latest disruption, what should I be working on? Know? What What, what’s given that given the changes that I’ve had in my schedule, and the new deadlines that have come upon me, once I put them in, then all the competition that I used to have to do on my own is no taking place solving this GPS, and then it offers up this magic eight ball answer about kicking, here’s the bet, here’s the best answer. So in a way, it operates like a trained robot in the sense that you are in the beginning, it gives you sorts of crazy answers, because you haven’t quite figured out the right way to get the program to give you the right answer. But over time, what happens is that you train it to, to, to operate an answer the way you want it to say it works more as a companion
who has all this information, and it just gives you the right answer at the end. So that’s that’s that’s how it works. In a nutshell. It works alongside Google Calendar, or Outlook calendar. And it’s available on web, iOS, and Windows and a mobile app as well.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 14:53
How does it How does it learn like in the onboarding process? What information is it taking in from you in order to be able to understand how to best provide back to you information? Like is it taking in certain characteristics are you at giving it information that it can use or is it just simply analyzing the data, you have resident within your calendar and tasks to be able to present it to you
Francis Wade 15:19
know, it’s doing no as doing no machine learning whatsoever. This is all what you tell it. So what you give it are two kinds of information. One is based around your tasks. So each task has a number of attributes that you can you can specify, like priority, absolute urgent urgency, which project it belongs to, how important is that project in your list of priorities, duration, so on so forth, that belongs to each task. But the the real innovation that sort of struck me was its creation of what’s called time maps. So time map is sort of our preferred time in your calendar perform a particular task. So each task is assigned to one of several user defined time maps. And this is where the real training takes place. Because when you start using the program, you’re not aware of your time preferences to that level of detail, although you do have them, but you’re the one who has to interpret what they are, look at your behavior over time and say, Okay, I prefer to do this kind of task on Monday, Thursday, and Friday between 12 and six, for example. So Skype, I will then look for available times in those in those time slots, and then try to. And then of course, they can all be overlapping and kill the tone, create as many times as you want. But the program is using it as input as an important input.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 16:52
Gotcha. Wonderful. So my first app is remember the milk. And the reason why I recommend it is because it’s awesome. And so I’ve been using it for for just so many years that you know, it’s my primary task manager. And the way I always explain to people, you know, task managers are for tasks, project manager, project management software is for being able to keep a project moving forward. So that’s not where tasks live. And at least not mine, you know, I manage all of my tasks in a task manager. So even if I have projects represented in my project management software, they are not in my tasks. And it’s very similar to any way you would talk about getting things done or any other methodology of having a projects list and having an actions list. Remember, the milk handles my actions list. And it is it has input from almost everywhere, you know, you can email you can text, you can tweet in a task and to remember the milk with integrations you can, you can speak it into almost anywhere from any of the google assistant or Alexa enabled devices. Remember, the milk is just a clean interface, I’ve really enjoyed the ability to just enter things in. And I love the levity that’s associated with the bob team monkey is the is the mascot and of course the logo is a is a cow. And you can actually toggle between the the sounds of a moose or a cowbell as the as the notification sound in the application, or you don’t have to have one at all. But the point is, is that Remember, the milk is a solid platform, it has has, I’ve never had a synchronization problem. I’ve never had a problem with the application just working. It’s just a solid application. And it was built with GTD in mind. So it’s got just a you know all of the various features that you would need for for getting things done anyway. And it also has smart lists. So very similar to a saved search. Remember, the milk gives you the the ability to create a search, a very advanced search or very simple search, and then represent that search as a list that’s dynamic. So anytime any task in your system qualifies, it will then be pulled into that list. So for example, in the GTD world where you can have context based lists, well, I don’t need to have a bunch of static lists, I just create new saved searches to to be smart lists. And then I just click on calls. And now it pulls from my my main task list or anywhere else that that calls are represented in my system into one list. So I can see all the calls that I need to make. It’s fundamentally a game changer. When you don’t have to worry about being overwhelmed by seeing 5000 tasks in your system, you can just see the very few based on a context that you can do right now and that you will do right now. So I really love remember the milk for all of its abilities. And it’s been keeping me productive. Since I don’t know when I started you know, it’s it’s more than a decade now. So that closes out round one. Our productivity Apple Palooza Premier Edition. We are now moving on to round two, round two is is up and so are you on the spot. What’s your second app for productivity Apple Palooza,
Art Gelwicks 20:14
I will see your remember the milk and I will raise you one to do list. Todoist is my task and to do tool of choice. I’ve used basically every to do application I’ve been able to get my hands on over the years. And this happens to be the one that I keep going back to which to me is a measure of matching functionality to person if your instinct is to go back to use it and the to the feature set is almost identical to what you outlined with remember the milk. There are two aspects of it have to do us though that I count on every day, and literally to do list. Aside from my email to do this is the application I am in most frequently during the course of the day, I am constantly going in checking, moving creating things, and that sort. But there’s two features I use constantly. One, I use the natural language component, which is the ability to just type in exactly what I’m wanting to remember as a task and have to do is to interpret it. So if I need to schedule a meeting for one o’clock tomorrow, I literally say scheduled meeting 1pm tomorrow, and it will take that parse it out and create a task for scheduled a meeting. And put a reminder on it for tomorrow at 1pm. That natural language component carries across not only on the Windows platform on the web, but it also on the Android device platform that I use, even to the point where you can use say google assistant and say, Hey, Google,
talk to to do list and it has its own voice component where it will walk you through prompts and to use natural language to add things to your task list to knock things off, or do whatever you need to do with your list. The second part of it is the karma piece. And the karma piece is a bit of gamification that’s tied to it. That gives you points for completing items. But it will also take away points if things go overdue. And you can go through different ranks of karma master Grandmaster that sort, there isn’t any real direct impact to your productivity using that. But I found that it’s been a good motivator for me, just being a gamer type of person, I don’t like to lose points, I like to gain points. So looking at that, it gives me the opportunity to as a kind of a kick in the pants to go back and say, Okay, if I don’t get some more stuff done on this list, I’m going to be dropping some points. So I need to get in motion here. And that’s a good positive personal reminder to keep moving forward.
But I highly recommend to do list, if you’re looking at different to do tools, at least take a look at it. It may or may not be your level of interest, because it is a fairly Spartan interface. There are there are a huge number of bells and whistles. But it is very clean and very streamlined,
Raymond Sidney-Smith 23:24
I like to do is for the karma thing as well, the karma functionality, and I don’t see that represented in almost any other task management app. But you know, there, there have been a few that have come and gone that had the features similar to karma, but there isn’t a point based system. Remember, the milk also has the natural language functionality, you can you know, just say what you want, and then it’ll put it into the time of day that you plan to. But but it only once a year, it tells you how many tasks you completed and gives you some numbers regarding that. But it doesn’t have that kind of of, you know, point based system, that would be a really great overlay. That would be kind of fun. So thank you art. Sure,
Art Gelwicks 24:04
the only thing I found about to do this, and this is not not a criticism of remember the milk, but it is something I’ve run into a problem with is to do is has the ability to share your list to other people. And I believe remember the milk also has that ability as well. I have actually gotten feedback on the cow. People are like, what if we you’re you’re working on our company project, and this is the tool you’re using? It has no impact on the tool itself. But there does seem to be a perception tied to it. It’s fun, but I don’t know, some people consider it, you know, less than corporate, for lack of a better term.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 24:41
Totally, totally. I get that all the time. And, and you know what? I’m sorry. But you know, the reality is, is that if you can’t embrace fun, then I don’t want to work with you.
Art Gelwicks 24:54
Good to know, right?
Raymond Sidney-Smith 24:58
No, but yeah, so so one of the one of the I just recently read a book called The levity effect, why it pays to lighten up. And the book is by Adrian caustic, and Scott Christopher. And what they do is they actually argue the importance of having fun in work. And I will, I will say that I was actually on the on the other side about this art I was so completely, you’ve probably heard me on the podcast, say this before, you know, I’ve said on productivity cast, sometimes doing productive things are just not fun. It’s hard work. And you have to get used to that. But this book actually really changed my mind about the importance of bringing fun into into work. And and I never recognize this, but I’ve been using remember the milk for that very reason all these years. And and it’s really important to me now to recognize how fun is a motivator? How fun is a team collaboration, experience? enhancer? And so so yeah, so I totally get the argument, I get it. But I think that people who are stuck in the mindset that things can’t be both productive, professional and fun, are missing a huge opportunity, a huge benefit to the workforce by eliminating or suppressing fun. Francis, what’s your second app.
Francis Wade 26:25
It’s Google Keep. It’s only because it’s a cross platform, super easy to use way of capturing brand new tasks.
I if there was something else, I guess I would
Google Keep is just simple. It’s it’s tied in with Google Calendar, which I use every day, I can create reminders, it takes voice voice notes in I don’t really use, I don’t really use the, I forget what it’s called on on the Google. But I don’t mean to really use the functionality where I use my voice all that much. But it’s there if I ever want to have a couple of times in a pinch. But I like the simplicity and the cross platform ness of it. So it’s it’s I find that I use it every day many ways. And I don’t know of any other app that’s as light. And as ubiquitous as Google Keep. I also use Evernote but Evernote is where I do my storing Google Keep is where I do my sort of quick capture in the moment on the fly.
And like I said, I don’t know, I’m open got other options, I’m sort of always looking to upgrade whenever I can. But I haven’t found one that’s as lightweight and as ubiquitous as Google Keep.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 27:47
What I love about Google Keep is that it has a functionality so that you can you can tell it to remind you about something at a particular time and location, without having to know that time and location before get to your task list. And so remember, the milk has locations, you can add locations to the system. And then then it will have those available, you can say you know, like what do I have to do at home, you can click on home and see everything that needs needs to be done at home. But Google Keep takes it a step further. And you can either say to google assistant or Google Now depending upon your your operating system. And or say to Siri, if you’ve connected the integrations to make it all flow to Google Keep through if they’re Zapier or whatever. But the point is, is you can you can then add something like remind me to buy milk, because remember, the milk is on my mind. But But remind me to buy milk when I’m near target. And it will go ahead and just select target. And now it knows when you go buy a target to remind you it will geo fence you so that when you drive by target, it will remember which is really a really phenomenal tool. Have you had you use that Francis?
Francis Wade 29:01
No, I haven’t. I find that one of the challenges I have, which is probably why I don’t use apps like that is that the alarms aren’t flexible enough to alert me in a sort of a consistent way any than alarm that does more than just beep. I need some some alarms that, for example, will just keep alarming until I stop it. So it won’t give up and will won’t come the alarm that you have when you wake up in the morning. But I can’t set those four regular alarms in Google Canada, not to my knowledge or in Google Keep. So I don’t if I can’t trust the alarm, then I’m sort of weary of adding in new ones. That’s probably the only reason why I haven’t done it.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 29:41
Yeah, I’ve not had a problem Google Keith has has saved me on many occasion in terms of me, what I like to do is I like to tell it, you know, you know, certainly things if I’m if I’m driving to a client location, and I want to be reminded about something to ask them, I will frequently asked Google Keep to remind me to ask them that so that when I get there, you know it has a list of things that will quickly pop up. And because I’m driving, I can’t get it into remember the milk in the way that I would want to. So it’s just it’s just a quick way to capture. Google Keep also has a number of really cool features. It’s actually built into the Google Drive platform. So it’s a it’s part of Google Drive. So Google Docs, Google Forms, Google Slides, Google Sheets, and so forth. And so it has tight integrations, you can turn a Google Keep note into a into your pull that data into Google Docs and Google Slides very easily. And it takes it takes images, you can share it really quickly and easily. And it also OCR is that actually optical character recognizes the text on anything that you put into Google Keep. So yeah, so you can actually search the images. So if you take a picture of a post it note into Google Keep, you can then search that those words that are
Unknown Speaker 30:59
Raymond Sidney-Smith 31:01
Yes, it’s actually very, very, very powerful tool. I think people underestimate it. But as you said, it’s it’s not Evernote. It’s not one note. It’s it’s something else, you know, and so I think it’s a it’s a very lightweight tool that’s very responsive, and very practical for many uses. And so thank you.
Art Gelwicks 31:21
This is one of those applications that has just driven me bonkers since it came out. It’s, it’s like they get this great idea. They work on it. And then they break for lunch and forget they were working on it and don’t come back to it. Because there’s so many cool features. But they just don’t tie the knots together.
They finally they just updated. They’ve been Google, they just updated Gmail with a new interface and added into that new interface is a side panel where you can put Google Keep, you can actually have your notes right there. Why did it take so long to be able to put this there? And why is it not more tightly integrated?
There’s basic structures that that just don’t exist that you that could make such a difference in user adoption and usability. And it’s just like, yeah, we’ve got this thing. Here’s perfect confusion. There’s now Google tasks, which has been around for a long time, but actually has an interface now. But there’s checklists in keep. But there’s no clarity as to which to one versus the other. I love Google Keep I do use it. I honestly, I find is probably the easiest way for me to maintain my grocery list. Because I can get into the grocery store, have it pop up when I walk in the door, take care of it and walk out and not have to think about it. Could I do it in to do list? Absolutely. But I find it easy and keep. But just they keep getting so close to having a really powerful information tool. And they just seem to stop short. And I don’t know if that’s intentional. I don’t know if that’s accidental. I can’t tell. And that’s what drives me bonkers about it. I love it. But I hate it at the same time.
Francis Wade 33:04
I agree with some of that. I think it’s accidental because the since I have been working that Pete, for example is that they don’t they don’t they haven’t started from the problem that they’re trying to solve that the user experiences. They don’t start with the user experience when they’re designing the product. This is if they design the product and say, Hey, you guys want to use this? Sure, try it see what happens. Which is ok for some products, especially for new ones that you’ve never tried before. But we’re trying to fit an app or a product into someone’s already existing behavior. I don’t think that approach works very well. And it feels discordant and random. And why didn’t they do this small thing that would have made a big difference. In might, for example, in my book, I mentioned this is this this feature that I loved, that I had on Blackberry, which was that you could program an external key. So you could press a button, and then the software will just be immediately launched without having to login and all that drama. There’s no equivalent that I found on on an Android device. But that makes no sense. Why can’t I press a button and immediately launch Google Keep, for example. But that would take Google understanding that people want immediate access to certain apps with just a stroke of a button. But that would take them having to study the US. And I it seems as if they don’t even bother to do that?
Raymond Sidney-Smith 34:24
Well, I’m going to push back here and say that Google does does study its users fairly closely. I think, I think remember, when you’re talking in the hundreds of millions to potentially billions of users, they they move very slowly, because they one change affects millions and millions of people at a time. And, you know, that’s a, we have a limited view set because it’s affecting us personally. And and that that does create a bit of a change. Now I will I will provide my own criticism here. While we’re all on our soap boxes.
Google has the power, though, to just kill off Google tasks, right? I just really wish that they would just kill that ugly, ugly program and get rid of it and replace it with Google Keep. That’s my that’s my own internal wish. Because if they would just that, you know, they recently put out as art said, the Google tasks applications and you can install an application on your on your phone, and and use Google tasks from from a mobile app interface interface. But why do that? why don’t why don’t they just pull those Google tasks into Google Keep and call it a day and a checklist or something like that, you know, inside of one of the Google keep notes, they could easily do that. And that would save everybody having to go to multiple places to to do that. Again, I know it affects a lot of people. And so therefore Google has to kind of make these choices delicately. And very mindfully.
Art Gelwicks 35:53
Yeah, it’s just it reminds me of the old days of Microsoft where they would the teams would be not working together, not communicating together. And,
again, I’m going to get real frustrated right here. I’m playing with keep and I have tasks and I switch between the two windows one I can open in another tab tasks. I can’t it’s the same bloody window I’m looking at. Why is the button in one and not in the other? These are the kinds of things that I think are going to hold Google back when it comes to this kind of stuff. Now, is that do they care? Maybe not. It may be just get the data in there. But
I just until they start to take Google keeps seriously. It’s never going to be taken seriously by anybody else. It’s always going to be this little thing that honestly, people are probably waiting until Google Keep gets killed off.
Francis Wade 36:48
Right? I think there’s there’s the difference between having a philosophy first, and then and then designing software, versus designing software, and then kind of looking at how the users use the software to come up with something better. I think the philosophy first approach is f1. I prefer it’s getting your thoughts straight about how people behave and how you want them to behave. And then asking questions around software as opposed to the opposite way.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 37:20
Okay, let’s move on. Oh, I’m up. Okay, so my second suggestion, my next app that I use, and love is actually Trello. And Trello. X is my project manager. And so for those who don’t know, Trello is represented as a personal con bond software, which means that it, it uses the con bond methodology for being able to display items. And so you have a board, and the board has lists, and on the lists are cards, you can think of cards is kind of like post its, and so you can place these cards, one above the other, and you can move them around. And each of the cards has their own features. And so do the lists. So you can you can email into any one of these units, board, lyst or card, I believe. And you’re actually also able to integrate your Trello boards with other applications and give them new features that are called power ups. But what I most love about Trello is just their ease of collaborating with other people. It’s a visual platform. And really, if you if you can dream it up, and in a lot of ways Trello can do it. And I recently demonstrated how I would set up Trello in through the GTD implementation at GTD DC the meetup that I run, and it was a lot of fun, you know, I just I just said, Okay, well, if I was going to start from scratch, this is how I would set it up. And Trello just makes it so simple to be able to visualize things. And the fluidity of being able to drag lists around and drag cards around, it just is a very, very nice, you know, feel to the application. And it, it also has a very strong keyboard functionality. So you can do almost everything you need to do in Trello, using keyboard that you using your keyboard, so you don’t have to take your hand off the keyboard. And so that keeps you much more productive and moving quickly through throughout the system. And I think a lot of people don’t know that there are so many keyboard shortcuts, my only criticism is that the keyboard shortcuts are different on the desktop applications than they are in the web interface. Because both pulled from different system resources, you know, within the browser, and then of course within the operating system. So that’s, that’s very frustrating. But you get used to it and you learn the keyboard shortcuts. And it’s really phenomenal. But Trello All told, is a fantastic application. And I really use it purely for project management, like I said, so I’m not doing task management there. This is for being able to represent projects, sharing, collaborate with others, what’s what the status of those projects are milestones, status updates, and so on so forth,
Art Gelwicks 40:06
if you’re able to make the leap into that card based metaphor, which honestly can be a little bit of a struggle for people at times, because they may be used to doing lyst based structures. But if you make that leap into that card based metaphor, it can make a big difference in the early stages of a project as well as the execution, just the brainstorming exercise of being able to go through it and capture and break out different phases. One of my favorite features of Trello, though, is the fact that you can do checklists within cards. So if you have a card that you’ve created around a stage in a project, you can do a checklist within that card without having to create 42 separate little cards to track individual pieces. Being able to assign cards to individuals. It’s a big step. And there’s a lot in the enterprise space. There are a lot of companies that use either Trello specifically, or Trello equivalent con bond model applications to do this type of project management, especially on the software development side. So if you’re dealing with this this type of work, or you’re thinking about doing project management work, I would, it would absolutely behoove you to look at Trello and get comfortable with that metaphor, because you’re going to see it again.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 41:23
Okay, we are closing up around two of this productivity appa Palooza Premier Edition. And now we’re on to round three, round three is up. And so our Europe
Art Gelwicks 41:37
Alright, so I saved my big one for last. This is kind of a giveaway if you if you know me, you know the types of things I do you know the types of things I write about. My third one is one note. Microsoft’s application for organizing information. In all its various forms. One Note being a open Well, I don’t want to use the term open platform. It’s a free platform that you can go to one note calm and sign up for there’s a desktop, actual actual desktop application, you can load onto windows, there’s a what’s called a UW p, which is universal Windows platform application. There is a browser based application. There’s iOS, there’s iOS tablet, there’s Android, all different kinds of flavors. Anything you could possibly want to capture, you can throw into one note and organize. If you know how to use a three ring binder, you know how to use 80% of how one note works, because it’s based on tags, meta tags, pages, sections, and that sort. It is probably, in my estimation, the most underrated application in the office suite. I throw it out and use it constantly with multiple people for sharing information for sharing lists, updating documentation, you know, not word it’s not Excel. It’s not PowerPoint, it’s a completely different beast. But it’s amazing how easy it is to adopt and how short that learning curve is. That glowing review being said, the inconsistency between the versions of the platforms will drive you absolutely bonkers. You have to plan for that accordingly. But if you do, you’ll find that one note is one of those applications that can really make a difference and just getting your stuff together.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 43:30
So as someone who has who has used both one note and Evernote art, what do you feel like are the are the primary differentiators between the two platforms? Not better or worse? Because I think that there are certainly pros, pros and cons for each. But what what do you feel like? Because I was recently asked this question at a forum. And someone said, well, what’s the difference between the two and I had a particular response. But I’m curious and I will share that. But I’m curious what your primary differentiator is between one note and Evernote.
Art Gelwicks 44:02
The best way I can describe it, one note truly loves its notebook metaphor, it loves the fact that it is an open page for you to create whatever you want. And the reason why I say that is they’ve pressed for the ability to include electronic inking, as well. One of the biggest adoption areas for one note is in the education space and rigid structure within educational tools can hamper them at times, because kids want to be able to just, you know, do what they need to do. Sometimes it’s move this thing here, sometimes it’s throw this image there. And the structure can often get in the way. Well, one note has kind of taken that to heart. Evernote has, I don’t want to say a more rigid structure, but a more native structure to it. And it’s really focused on putting things in place, getting them organized, wrapping them with this structure that they have, without the kind of open ended piece. They’re really just two different two different beasts. They do the same things. I want to say almost 80% of the time, but they have two very different approaches to it. If I had to parallel them. Take a look at the parallel between ever or between ready to remember the Milken to do list. If I had to line them up side by side, I’d say to do list is more like Evernote. And remember the milk is more like one note, when you think about the usability, the interface the experience.
A I’ve used both. I migrated from Evernote to OneNote, I would have to say that the only major win right now on the one note side is that it is free. I mean, that’s what Microsoft has totally bought in on making this available to everybody possible. I don’t know that they did it for is a shot over the bow of any one company. I think what they’ve done is they’ve recognized that this kind of information sharing and embedding it everywhere gets people more tied into their ecosystem. So if you look at things like the new surface hubs, they’ve got one note functionality built into them. The surface laptops and the surface tablets, all have native one note functionality built into them. It’s just part of the equation,
Raymond Sidney-Smith 46:28
right, the way in which I explained Evernote difference from one note was actually on the fundamental level of the way in which both look at the concept of a note. So Evernote has a has a very clear definition of what a note is a note is in this individual file that you can move around at least on the front end. Whereas with one note pages are endless, you can you could just start a page in one note inside of a notebook and create sections and just keep going. In essence, it’s a very freeform, right you can, if you’re on a touchscreen device or tablet you can draw inside of one note and then continue on writing. It can turn your handwritten text if it’s clean into into live type, mobile text and those kinds of things that Evernote is not interested really seemingly, I mean, just by by virtue of the fact that they haven’t tried to put this these features into it. You can you can do notes in Evernote, you can do handwriting, but it creates kind of a static image, you know, an image that you can then reopen and do more doodling and more writing handwriting, but not really the fluidity of of that kind of construct. So I think I agree with you art that one note is attempting to be a little bit more free flowing and flexible. And and then the other side is the way in which one note and Evernote differ is the ability for you to integrate with other applications. So in the one note side, and there’s a bit of ambiguity here, because we have a integration software is that integrate with other things, right, so now we have Microsoft Flow, which allows integration with other tools. But basically, if you’re in one note, you can integrate really tightly with other Microsoft based tools. If you’re using Evernote, you can integrate with everything that Evernote integrates with, right. So you have just a kind of a different way of integrating with things. But you have a lot of ways to integrate both tools just in a different flavor and one notes going to have tighter integration, obviously with Microsoft tools than Evernote is. So I see those as being the two big differentiators. Okay, Francis, Europe, what is your third app that you wanted to recommend?
Francis Wade 48:41
It’s called Activtrak. It’s really for spying on employees, that that seems to be the the primary purpose. However, it’s also good for spying on yourself. So when you install the app, it sort of operates in the background and take screenshots of whatever you’re doing on your computer, to the cloud. And you can go back later and figure out what what it is that you did, what the heck you been up to, you can’t remember what it was I working on. So I do a lot of time tracking. So having that kind of backup information is absolutely essential, because I’m amazed at how many you know, I did some time tracking couple of days ago, and I could not remember what I did the prior week on a on the Thursday. Turns out I had a pockets I didn’t do anything on the laptop. So active track didn’t help me with that respect. But the program is pretty powerful. And it also gives you some some limits as to what you should be what it should be. But some policies as to what websites you should be spending a certain amount of time on, it can give you an alarm, for example, if you spend more than 10 minutes on Facebook, for example. So it’s it’s not using it for its intended purpose to monitoring other people, but I’m finding it sort of variable useful and novel and at, you know, at the at the trial or the free sort of user level that I’m at. It’s it’s anything that does what it does.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 50:11
And so I know that back in Episode 29 – 30, I believe what we talked about tracking tools active and passive data. Is this different from manic time? I know that you had said that use manic time? And is this different or similar? What’s the Compare and contrast there very briefly,
Francis Wade 50:28
right. So manic time, I use my time just to compile the data. So it tracks what apps I’m using. It doesn’t take screenshots unless you go for the pro version.
Activtrak those the screenshots, and the warnings and that kind of thing all on its own automatically. So they’re complimentary, I use them together. But so data is collected, I actually insert the data in manic time and compile the data and manage them. But I’ll tell you what I really would like to have is an easy we to set up experiments and hypotheses and test them using the data that I’m gathering that I have not found anywhere.
Raymond Sidney-Smith 51:10
You’ll have to you have to install our and start doing some data science,
Yeah, no, it’s a fantastic and rabbit hole to go down into a never escape for
Francis Wade 51:23
Art Gelwicks 51:24
Raymond Sidney-Smith 51:25
All right, well, this closes out this episode of productivity cast. If you have a question or comment about any of the apps we discussed today, feel free to head over to our podcasts website go to productivity cast.net scroll down in the comments leave us a question in the comments we also have a contact page fill out the contact form and that will send us an email and we’ll be more than happy to respond to your message if necessary. If you are want any one of the apps you can go to the show notes which is represented below the audio recording player and you’ll see all of the the applications we discussed with links to them so you can go ahead and figure those out in in there. We also have our subscribe instructions on that page. So if you want to subscribe to the podcast if you don’t already subscribe. Please do feel to do so. And if you are listening to us through by subscription through iTunes or please leave a rating a review. So thank you for doing that. That brings us out to the close of this episode of productivity cast the weekly show about all things productivity. Thank you to Krista Francis and art for joining me here’s here’s always and here’s your productive life.
Voiceover Artist 52:32
And that’s it for this productivity cast. The weekly show about all things productivity with your hosts, Ray Sidney-Smith and Augusto Pinaud with Francis Wade and Art Gelwicks.
Download a PDF of raw, text transcript of the interview here.