Friday, December 12, 2008

Plotting the improductivity

Or the antiproductivity. Come on and admit it: you're always trying to find the lamest excuses to waste your time without getting to work...

(click the image to see a larger version!)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The 1000 Heads project

Here's a new daily image project, called 1000 Heads. It's based on human head images in my sketchbooks. They are filled with imaginary heads containing all the stuff one could possible think of.

Either as a warm-up exercise, to develop a new idea, or just to have fun for a while, I find myself making variations on the theme all the time.

A selection of these peculiar heads, after scanning and cleaning up, were vectorised and published at Typephases as a collection of dingbat fonts called Capsbats (a set of 3 fonts) and Entestats (3 more fonts.)

In this project I am going to post one of these heads every day, with some further modifications and usually paired with some quotation (be it related or not to the image.)

This collection of images is part self-entertainment, part concept visualization. I hope they are inspirational for you and make you think, hopefully sparking some new insight.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Making plans for the semester


Making plans for the semester, originally uploaded by DailyPic.

Thinking on the things I want to do best in the next few months or so...
I just couldn't bring myself to just write down a list, so after a while of fooling around with pencil, markers and some washes, this is the "decorated version" of the list. Now if I only can do some of it.

See more of my artwork in my Flickr page!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Simple, easy and light todo list apps

Managing to-do lists is an essential piece of your personal organization. You can either (or both) create and use lists on your computer (online services or standalone applications) or with the most simple and portable setup ever: pen and pencil.

There are many to-do list applications available, providing different feature lists.You may find the to-do list function included in more complex programs, such as full-featured organizers, but sometimes it's preferable to use a fast-loading, focused tool to quickly access your task lists.
These are a few applications of this kind I have tried and found to be useful. There are also online services to create and manage your to-do lists (see the sidebar and the bottom of this post.)

ToDoList
is a rare form of task management tool, one that allows you to repeatedly sub-divide your tasks into more manageable pieces whilst still presenting a clean and intuitive user experience.
Main Features of ToDoList:
  • Simple interface
  • Freeware
  • Support for hierarchical data. The number of items/subitems is limited only by memory (although performance may be the deciding factor before you exhaust memory).
  • Marking a parent item as 'done' will also gray-out child items, but they are not disabled or automatically marked as 'done'.
  • Top-level items and sub-items are created using different toolbar buttons. An ellipsis (...) indicates that an item has sub-items. All items can be expanded or collapsed (by double-clicking).
  • There are task-specific context-menus.
  • The tasklist is automatically saved when closing the software or minimizing it to the system tray. The previously open tasklists are re-opened on startup.

Smart To-Do List
Recently it has come to my attention a very fast and unobstrusive program called Smart To-Do List. You can run it in portable mode from a usb flash drive (also meaning that you don't need to install it and clutter your windows registry) and it's very lightweight yet still well focused on managing to-do lists. You get a project list (you can use templates for similar projects) and within each project you add tasks as you need.
Tasks can be associated to different tags (which you can use as contexts) and a degree of priority can be assigned to each. Then, you can customize the display by context or by priority... The data can be exported as html or xml. Although this application is intentionally limited, it does its job quite well. And as you can resize its window to a rather small size and yet access all its functions, it comes very handy to quickly add tasks to whatever projects you are involved with.

As it happens with many productivity tools and services, Smart to-do list is available both in a free and paid version, the second one without the limitations of the first, obviously.



To-Do Desklist and Swift To-Do List
To-Do Desklist
is another simple, nice looking and easy-to-use tool with good interface and good features:
  • You can place To-Do notes directly on your desktop, assigning priority levels to to-dos.
  • All to-dos can have a reminder to a specific date and time.
  • Hotkeys for adding a new to-do and displaying all to-do notes in front of other windows
  • Sorting To-Do Notes by priority or by date
  • You can add an alarm to an item
  • Desklist also allows you to assign priority and add extended notes to tasks.
It's freeware for Windows only.They have a more feature-rich program called Swift To-do.
Swift to-do, again, has a free and a paid version.
An online version of the program exists and you can even try it out on your browser as a demo.

Online services
For a comprehensive list of online todo list services, check out the following articles:Distraction Free GTD: 32 Todo List Web Applications Online todo lists compared
do also check the sidebar of GTDrawings, where we list several online to-do lists.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

In / out


In / out, originally uploaded by DailyPic.

A drawing about being positive despite negative input in your day-to-day.
Scanned from my current journal / sketchbook, A4 size. Ink (brush pen.)

The text says something like
"every day we're under a rain (if not a storm) of negativity, trouble, limitations, frustration. We need to turn all this over, and always bring out some positive thinking. No escapism: being rational if necessary, passional sometimes, but always trying to find the positive elements. These are what will brin us forward, leaving the ballast of negative weight behind."

See more of my artwork in my Flickr page!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

GTD: 22 visual side notes more!


Here are some drawings that I missed in previous posts. I've realized a few of them are repeated, but most of them are completely new. These are visual side notes sketched on the margins of the Getting things done book, but I traced them on three layout paper sheets for a cleaner appearance (and less scanning work!)
Soon I will post bigger versions and individual comments for the drawings. Meanwhile, take a look: find them at my Flickr page, together with other samples of my artwork.



See more of my artwork in my Flickr page!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Browser-based GTD organizers

There is a variety of free and commercial solutions for your Getting Things Done-style organisation. Among these we find several browser-based applications. Some are quite simple and easy to set up (or with no setup at all), while others require more complex installations and system configurations.

Let's examine a few of these applications.

You can download GTD-PHP from http://www.gtd-php.com. An application focused specifically on organizing your tasks and projects, the GTD-PHP project provides detailed documentation, including screencasts. Here's how you create a new project explained visually:





We already talked about Nexty, a similar GTD-compliant organizer similar to GTD-PHP and with similar system requirements.

Those two applications have common requirements: you must install them on a webserver with PHP and MySQL (the typical requirements for most CMS and blog systems such as Wordpress, and other popular web applications.)

You can alternatively run either GTD-PHP or Nexty in your own computer if you install a personal webserver application, as we explain in the post about Nexty. It is even possible to set up and run those appls in a portable fashion, so you can take them wherever you want with your usb drive. I've recently discovered a portable webserver called MoWeS thats comes with a selectable bunch of preinstalled software that includes GTD-PHP!

Tracks and What's next


What's Next is a personal productivity application that supports David Allen's Getting Things Done system, or GTDWhat's Next provides an environment in which to be effortlessly productive - it has been designed to offer a great user interface and generally be a joy to use:

The application works under Mac OS X, Windows, various Unix- and Linux-variants. It is a browser-based application that comes with a small local web server based on Ruby. The installation in Windows and Mac OS X is pretty straightforward, while on Linux it's a bit more complex. See the downloads page in the What's new project for more information. You will also find a detailed user manual explaining the different features and uses of What's next.

Tracks is another browser-based GTD application that also requires a more unusual (and fairly complex) setup with Ruby on Rails. It looks really good and it is fully compliant with the GTD philosophy. While its requirements and installation procedure may seem more discouraging, there is also an option of installing it more easily. Check the Bitnami Tracks Stack solution.

One of the most peculiar features of Tracks, apart from the expected Projects, Actions, Lists and other GTD elements, is the statistics page, which provides a comprehensive information about your projects, actions both in numbers and in graphics. You also get a very useful tickler file to remind you of necessary actions.

TiddlyWiki-based apps
TiddlyWiki is a single html file which has all the characteristics of a wiki - including all of the content, the functionality (including editing, saving, tagging and searching) and the style sheet. Because it's a single file, it's very portable - you can email it, put it on a web server or share it via a USB stick. (definition from the TiddlyWiki project page.)

GTDTiddlyWiki is a GettingThingsDone adaptation by NathanBowers of JeremyRuston's Open Source TiddlyWiki. The purpose of GTD Tiddly Wiki is to give users a single repository for their GTD lists and support materials so they can create/edit lists, and then print directly to 3x5 cards for use with the HipsterPDA.


Next Action is a Getting Things Done todo-list tracking tool. It's a personal database for your action items and todo lists that you use through your web browser. Now a Google Gears enhanced service, it stores its data in your computer while running from a remote server. You can also try to find the old version, which stores your data internally in the html file (saving it each time you use Next Action, by using the save as complete webpage option.)MonkeyGTD is yet another wiki-based solution:

My recommendation? If you don't want to waste time setting up your applications, you can start using any of the three last TiddlyWiki-based apps. They offer full functionality and you will be using them within minutes. Your decision will depend, however, on what you prefer: a usb app, a server-hosted app or a local install.

Finally, do check other GTD applications (not browser-based) already commented here in GTDrawings, such as Thinking Rock and other services and programs you will find in the blog.

Friday, September 19, 2008

File synchronization

Here is a variety of file synchronization utilities. Very handy to make sure you have exactly the same files on different storage systems: backup, equalize, restore, update, synchronize...

The one I use is Toucan, but you can try and decide for yourself. All of these programs are freeware and portable: no need to add unwanted junk on your system, no installation necessary.



Sunday, March 30, 2008

A good selection of GTD and productivity books

GnuCash (Portable)

If you need a reliable program to track your expenses, income and other personal finance management, GnuCash Portable, available PortableApps is an excellent, and free, choice.

GnuCash Portable is the open source financial management. It has all the same great features as most commercial money management programs (see some links on the sidebar of this blog) and more.

Some of its features include:

  • Double-Entry Accounting
  • Bank/Liability/Expense Accounts
  • Stock/Bond/Mutual Fund Accounts
  • Small-Business Accounting (Customers, Vendors, Jobs, Invoices, Accounts Payable/Receivable)
  • QIF/OFX/HBCI Import, Transaction Matching
  • Reports, Graphs
  • Scheduled Transactions
  • Financial Calculations
The version available from Portable Apps is a piece of software packaged as a portable app, so you can take your financial data with you. Plus, it leaves no personal information behind on the machine you run it on, so you can take your finances along with you wherever you go.

You can also visit the Project page for GNUCash (gnucash.org), with a good Documentation section and a tour of the program through screenshots / features.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

GanttProject and other project management software

Recently I have been organizing a series of complex projects and I have used a program called GanttProject as a helper. Ganttproject is a free project scheduling program, by means of Gantt charts and resource load charts.

This kind of chart is an invaluable tool when you have to plan complex projects that must be developed in specific time spans and with clear dependences. You can break down your project into a tree of tasks and assign human resources that have to work on each task, identifying which are the dependencies between tasks, and the time frames for each, deciding which tasks can't start until some other taks is finished.

Quoting from a Project management article,
The project schedule is the core of the project plan. It is used by the project manager to commit people to the project and show the organization how the work will be performed. Schedules are used to communicate final deadlines and, in some cases, to determine resource needs. They are also used as a kind of checklist to make sure that every task necessary is performed. If a task is on the schedule, the team is committed to doing it. In other words, the project schedule is the means by which the project manager brings the team and the project under control.
GanttProject renders your project using two charts: Gantt chart for tasks and resource load chart for resources. You may print your charts, generate PDF and HTML reports, exchange data with Microsoft(R) Project(TM) and spreadsheet applications...

This screenshot of the program, lifted from their website, gives an idea of what GanttProject is about —this specific example is a building project:

There is a similar program called Open Workbench, with an impressive feature list. SmartDraw also has a nice feature set for Gantt charts. And you might want to check out other Gantt chart tools for Mac or PC.

If you are a Linux Ubuntu (with KDE desktop, or Kubuntu) you can use KPlato, which is opensource and completely free to use. Its features include: This is a screenshot of this application:
See more details and download the program at the KOffice project page. As you know, there are several ways to install programs in Ubuntu, and it is getting more and more trouble-free every day. Choose what is best for you.

Then there are several online, or web-based, applications for Project Management. Dotproject
is a PHP + MySQL opensource solution, with excellent documentation and online courseware. If you have a Dreamhost hosting account you can install it with their one-click install utility. Super-easy!

More information about Gantt Charts in the Wikipedia article. Also in the Wikipedia, a list of Project management software.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Web-based mind mapping software


My favourite mind-mapping software is the open source Freemind, but I also use some online tools such as Mindomo and Bubbl.us.

Mindomo is a versatile Web-based mind mapping tool, delivering the capabilities of desktop mind mapping software in a Web browser, and it gives you complete freedom to access your maps in your Web browser from home, school or work.

Bubbl.us is probably the simplest way to brainstorm online: it's extremely easy to use and has almost no learning curve. The intuitive user interface lets anyone brainstorm and organize ideas without getting in the way. The mind maps created with Bubbl.us can be shared and edited collaboratively.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Total text container

Total Text Container is a freeware multi-purpose personal information manager that lets you to store all kinds of different content within a single encrypted XML database.
You can type simple or rich text, alone or mixed in any way you want with images. The entries may also include information such as tabular data (spreadsheets), URLs, passwords, contacts, calendar events, catalogs, files... like in this example taken from the developer's page:A good tool for organizing your digital life! What's better, this application is portable (ckeck out the Portable Freeware collection entry.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Some digital alarms

AM-Notebook (pro and lite versions available) is a multi-featured tabbed note-taking program that provides an easy and reliable way to save notes and formula supported spreadsheets in a light weight tray icon tool. Lots of text formatting features allows you to create clear and well designed notes which can be stored at different locations and also be shared in a network. Other nice features are the integrated alarm clock and address book.

Sveglia is a simple alarm clock. With Sveglia is possible to activate an alarm, run a program, shutdown or restart the Pc at certain time. The alarm can pop up a sound file in mp3 and other formats.

Citrus alarm clock also has this nice touch of playing the music you choose. Set as many different alarms as you'd like; MP3, WMA, and any other media types are for which you have the right media player installed; fade in alarm audio for relaxed awakening; mute audio overnight until alarm time; easy to use and free

A great place to find similar utilities is the Productivity section in Portable Freeware, where the applications discussed can be run in portable form, that is, without installation. Just place them in a folder, either in your computer or in a USB stick, and go.

There are dozens of related utilities in Softpedia, searching the term "alarm".

Friday, March 14, 2008

Task Coach

Task Coach is a simple open source todo manager to manage personal tasks and todo lists. Often, tasks and other things todo consist of several activities. Task Coach is designed to deal with composite tasks. The application is also available as a portable application (see the Portable Apps page), so you can run it anywhere from your usb drive.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A survey of the GTD app landscape


A very nice compilation of commented links about GTD - related software, online services and other utilities related to GTD.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Basket Note Pads

I am working more and more in Ubuntu lately, and I am testing different kinds of applications. One very nice discovery I've made is Basket Note Pads, a multi-purpose note-taking application helps you to:
  • easily take all sort of notes
  • Collect research results and share them
  • Centralize your project data and reuse it
  • Quickly organize your thoughts in idea boxes
  • Keep track of your information in a smart way
  • Make intelligent To Do lists
And a lot more features, well explained in the attractively presented project site, with detailed explanations and many screenshots.
The program is very easy to install: just check its selection box in the add/remove applications utility and that's it.

1000 Heads: the book

1000 heads, my illustration book

My artwork at Flickr

Inspiring books for the creative type

My GTD (Getting things done) illustrations

I conceived this blog basically to share my visual side notes of the Getting things done process. My most recent posts about GTD software and related topics have “masked” the original posts.

You can access most GTDrawings in the archive of december 2005 and january 2006.

Here's a miniature with most of my sketches: this is what you will find, commented and in larger sizes, in those previous posts.

See also the article about GTD drawings.

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