Apple Reminders – GTD App Worth Using

ioS-6-Reminders-600x450As a big fan of the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology I make a lot of lists.  Lists are a simple way to get things out of your head and off your mind so you can focus on what needs to be done now.

In the past I’ve always used the Tasks feature in Outlook and synced it with whatever smart phone I was using at the time.  Now that I’m 99% Apple (I still run windows on the Mac using Parallels for certain Windows only apps I need for work) I’ve switched to using the Reminders application available on iOS and OSX.

Reminders is a simple to-do application that wirelessly syncs across all of my devices using iCloud.  Those of you with an iPhone have probably used the app in one form or another & are saying to yourself “yeah, so what?”…

So… Have you used Location based reminders yet?  This single feature got me to dump Outlook tasks and immediately switch to the Reminders App.

Most people have a few different types of reminders (tasks) they’re keeping track of.  Some with due dates and some without.  Once the due date/time hits you get an alert and you either do it, snooze it or ignore it.  How would you like to get an alert any time you arrive or depart a particular location even if the reminder has a date/time alert or not?

This is the one feature that made the switch worth it.  Here an example.  The trash at my house is picked up every Thursday morning.  I like to have a alert on Wednesday evening to remind me to set the bins out.  In the past I would set a weekly reminder for 7pm every Wednesday night.  That’s great if I’m home but if I’m not I’d probably just dismiss the alert & forget about it by the time I got home.  Or I’d get home, park in the garage, go inside, & then remember.  Having to back the car out to get the bins out…

With location based reminders I get an alert as soon as I pull into my driveway every Wednesday!  It’s not based on a time, it’s based on a day & location (the date is optional).  This works well for a lot of things.  If I need to talk to someone as soon as I get to the office I’ll get a reminder when I pull into the parking lot, no matter what day of the week or time it is.

While this is a great feature there are a few quirks that keep the application from being perfect.  Options for recurring tasks are somewhat limited and it’s not integrated with Outlook (Mac or Windows version).  There’s no snooze option on iOS but there is on OSX…

That being said, it’s a lightweight application that syncs almost instantly between my Mac & iPad.  Entering multiple items is a easy as pressing Enter to separate each reminder.  You can create unlimited contexts (categories) to group your reminders.  Finally, you can share your reminders and lists with other iOS users.  This is great for team tasks or sharing within a household.

All in all this is great app for those of us that like to make GTD lists and need a place to keep them organized and accessible among several devices.

If you’re interested in learning how to use Siri to create reminders check out the video below from TeachMeiOS.com

Review – Our Groceries App

I’m a list maker.  I find lists are the best way for me to get things out of my head and free that thinking energy up for more important things.  To keep all of our family lists in sync we uses the Our Groceries application.

Our Groceries is a free “cloud” based tool that’s accessible via the web, and applications designed for Blackberry, iPhone and Android.  It’s a simple list maker that keeps everyone updated in near real-time.  The free version is ad-supported and has small ads at the top of the screen.  You can purchase an ad free version for Android and Apple.

My family uses Our Groceries for our master grocery list as well as errands, gift ideas, and even dinner ideas. It’s also a great way to make a packing list for vacation.  Creating a list is a one step process and once it’s created you can start populating it right away.  One of the cool features is that Our Groceries remembers your list items even after you check them off.  Enter an item once and it’s always available for quick entry in the future.  This is great for grocery lists where you’re adding the same things every week.

The magic of Our Groceries is in the synchronization.  Once all the users in your family are connected (a very simple process that’s done via email) every time you add an item it’s automatically synchronized to the other users lists.  Cross something off and it crosses that item off on their list.  This all occurs within about 10 seconds.

When our daughter says she needs something from the store, we tell her “add it to the list”.  There have been times where I’ll be at the grocery store and my wife will remember that we need something.  Se adds it to Our Groceries on her phone and it magically shows up on my phone just a few seconds later.  I really can’t stress enough how cool this application is.

Other features of Our Groceries allow you to input your favorite recipes and with one click all the ingredients get added to the shopping list..  Using the web you can drag and drop items so they are in the proper order when you walk through the store.  I always put all of the produce at the top and frozen items at the bottom.  The next time that produce item is added it will automatically end up at the top of the list.  If you want to get really fancy you can assign categories to items so they’re grouped together.

The uses for Our Groceries are nearly endless.  You don’t have to synchronize with other people, you can use the application by itself as well.  Check it out and let us know what you think!

 

GTD Review and a seasonal photograph

I ran across a really good review of Gettng Things Done by David Allen at The Simple Dollar website. Trent does a great job describing the various chapters in the book and gives it a buy recomendation at the end of the review.

Took this picture in July but it’s pretty appropriate now since the leaves are turning and starting to fall in the backyard.

Leaf Covered Path

The Weekly Review

It’s Sunday… It’s 5:00 am… It’s a cool fall morning and I drag myself out of bed for my weekly ritual. It’s called the “Weekly Review” and it’s an essential part of the organizational philosophy called Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen. It will consume the next 2-3 hours of my morning as I review the activities/notes of the past week and get ready for the week to come.

Those of you who know me know that I’m somewhat obsessed with orginization and the GTD method. It comes from years of trial and error with other systems. I’ve found the GTD system just clicks with how I function.

Clearing my head of unwanted distractions allows my creative energies to flow and ultimately it helps me relax. The outcome of this weekly appointment I have with myself is a clearer understanding of everything on my plate. From emails to phone calls, from meetings to projects, everything gets touched and the next action for each activity is clearly identified.

Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to attend David’s 1-day seminar in Chicago as well as loan copies of his book to friends and co-workers. Some have adopted the GTD principals & others really need to give it another shot…

Now that the decks are cleared and all loose ends are tied up, I can go upstairs and relax with another cup of coffee… I’m cooking 3-meals this afternoon to get ready for the upcoming week.  More about my cooking obsession in a future post.