Category Archives: Christian Productivity


Jim commented:

After reading this blog I decided to take a look at the task tools you mentioned. I’m looking a Nozbe now, but TaskToy — what is it? The Tasktoy website is just a signup page, with no information as to what in the heck Tasktoy is, or even what it looks like. No FAQ, no screenshots, and a Google Group that has absolutely no real posts — all spam posts. Apparently no one is managing the group at all.Anytime I see a service-oriented web site that wants me to sign up completely sight unseen, I usually steer clear of it!

Good instincts–but in this case, misleading. For reviews and screenshots take a look at the google searches I did.

I’ve been using Tasktoy as my start page for a couple of years now. It provides a window on the left side of the screen for tasks, todos, or “next actions” in GTD nomenclature. On the right it has two windows, one of projects and the other of whatever links you think are handy.

It is ideal for those with different work and home environments since different computers can save different settings and see different groups of projects according to context (i.e. home, or office). It will email reminders if you want them and also repeat tasks. It allows for extensive notes.

It is free with some relatively muted advertising (unlike, say, this blog).

Show some respect for yourself

Am I the only one who thinks rhetoric about earning a “black belt” in any sort of business practice is sort of juvenile and silly? I want to get better at GTD, but a “3rd degree Black Belt“? How about a GTD red cape or utility belt? What about D&D?–“become a level 5 druid at GTD!”

Actually, in the last year I’ve been reading on various aspects of the business world and it has made me feel better than I ever have about the Evangelical ghetto. I would go to family counseling conferences dealing with serious issues and see the four personalities (set aside whether there are really four and all that) presented by grown adults to grown adults by hand puppets (lion, otter, beaver, and golden retriever, I think). I’ve seen all sorts of ridiculous training advancement labels being offered as the key to growth and assurance control (how many pastorates have I been told I could only qualify for if I attended that Really Important Seminar[TM]?)

And for many years I have always thought this was a distinctively American Christian form of absurdity. It’s not. Browse the business section of any bookstore.

Oh, and probably in both cultures there is plenty of real value that is being offered. It just has to be made to look stupid in order to gain adherents. I think GTD is great and I would have no prejudice in trying out the program.

I just don’t like the packaging.

Some of us are satisfied with those blank books

I have been tending toward using web applications again, but now that my main desktop is acting like a piece of rock rather than a computer, I’m starting to wonder if I should return lowtech in my quest to do better GTD. (I started going that way a couple of months ago just because I was sick of being on the computer.) So I found Flipping Heck’s description of “My ‘Killer’ GTD setup” really interesting. Basically it comes down to a blank book (OK, the post recommends a moleskine, but what’s the difference, right?), a pen, a form for projects, and a phone for the calendar. Looks like something to consider.

On the inspiration side of things, I really appreciated The Daily Saint’s pep talk on his GTD Cafe post on the power of small decisions.

Finally, I still haven’t mastered how to really use a to-do list or tasklist. So this post on the KISS approach to GTD project planning looks helpful.

GTD Application Sevice Provider: Nozbe

For those of you interested (or in need) of GTD (despite the deep weird), The GTD Wannabe blog has posted a review of the online gtd app, Nozbe. I’ve noticed Nozbe before, and think it is the right direction to go. I am more and more inclined to prefer online services to downloading new programs, when possible.

(Part of the reason that preference stems from my utter frustration with the mac dashboard. I got used to widgets and then frustrated as it took longer and longer to open them. So now I have book marks for my timers and calculators and everything else I need. There are a few rare times when I am without broadband, but not nearly often enough to deal with the frustration of using my own resources on a regular basis. In fact, I no longer use any computer email client or calendar app, preferring to stick with 30boxes and Gmail. Whenever I’m going on a trip where I know I might need these, and that I will be out of range of broadband, I simply download my reminders and email into my iCal and Mail apps and then delete it all when I come back home… But I digress)

In any case, even though I like application services through my browser, I am really stingy about paying for them. So I’ve left Nozbe alone and made do with other organizational tools like TaskToy. If I had money to burn I would not only experiment with it and write my own review, but I’d buy the latest toy to use it with.

So I appreciate this review of Nozbe’s GTD services from GTD Wanabe. It is not that positive:

Unfortunately, although it uses all of the right buzz words, I didn’t like it. Now, remember that I’m not evaluating software here for general use, but for my use. Therefore, my tastes weigh heavily in my evaluation.

To his credit, he actually has his “tastes” all charted out, which is more than I have ever done. So you might find that you want to try it out anyway.

You can find Nozbe tutorials at YouTube. Here is the first one:

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Remember the Milk and the solution to to-do lists

The Republic of Geektronica has a short but useful entry on “the trouble with to-do lists.” The trouble with these lists is, in short, that if you have everything on them you get really intimidated and try to avoid looking at them. Geektronica suggests some work-arounds utilizing Remember the Milk. Since I’m in need of some serious GTD recovery, perhaps I will give it a shot.

The only reason I haven’t done so already is I have an aversion to cute cartoon cows.

“Getting things done” has new connotations when I learn Allen’s on his fourth wife

Frankly, this article scares me.

Allen was a 23-year-old grad student at UC Berkeley in 1968 when he met a psychic named Michael who said he owed Allen a karmic debt over a past-life transgression. Michael began teaching him karate and sharing Zen concepts such as “mind like water. ” (It means that just as a pebble tossed into a still pond creates only gentle ripples, small events need not create big waves in our lives.)

Michael’s teachings convinced Allen that the life he was living was phony. He quit everything — school, drugs, his first marriage, his home — and took a job driving a cab. “I was just one wired, raw thing,” Allen says.

Thus began a spiritual quest that eventually led him in 1971 to John-Roger, an L.A.-based mystic who later formed a church called the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness that has courted controversy and attracted such high-profile adherents as Arianna Huffington.

“I knew in the first 30 seconds that he didn’t give a rat’s ass if anybody believed him,” Allen says. “He knew what he was talking about.”

Allen was inspired. He quit his job and moved to Los Angeles. For the next six years, he worked a series of odd jobs — landscaper, vitamin distributor, glass-blowing lathe operator, travel agent, gas station manager, U-Haul dealer, moped salesman, restaurant cook — until John-Roger started a personal-growth training program in 1978 called Insight Seminars.

Insight was based on a popular self-help seminar for young professionals called Lifespring, which employed potent psychological techniques to break down participants’ entrenched thought patterns and replace them with ostensibly more positive states of mind. Although many graduates swore that Lifespring changed their lives for the better, the for-profit company was also slapped with dozens of lawsuits claiming psychological trauma and even wrongful death by suicide.

One of its trainers, Russell Bishop, upset by the harshness of the Lifespring program, approached John-Roger about creating a more benign version of the weeklong seminar.

“Insight started with the heart,” Allen says. “We said, look, what people are really after is to love and be loved, and we just do it in weird and awkward ways. So let’s try to find out how we’re screwing that up and what you need to do to fix that.”

Within a few years, Allen was ready to become an Insight trainer. He turned out to be a natural — a gifted speaker with charisma, humor, and a quick wit. Among his students were many high-powered executives who wanted to use Insight to transform their companies. Around that time, Allen got an idea: Why not become a management guru?

He wasn’t the only one thinking this way. Lifespring and Werner Erhard’s Est were already tweaking their seminars for corporate clients. During a weeklong session that Insight conducted for Scott Paper, one exec excoriated himself for talking too much; another admitted he couldn’t control his temper. Bishop recalls that when then-CEO Phillip Lippincott stopped by, a senior VP broke down and apologized for fighting his boss at every turn.

The two men committed to repairing the relationship. “I have no idea what took place here,” Lippincott told the group, “but this process clearly needs to be nurtured.”

Such cathartic moments happened frequently during Insight training sessions, according to Allen. But he realized it wasn’t enough just to send people out into the world pumped up to change their lives. Somebody needed to show them exactly what to do when they got back to the office. (read the whole thing)

Maybe it’s a failure of character, but while I feel free to borrow and learn from various rationalist atheological types, learning that someone is from the goofy spiritualist “new age” leftifornia world makes me want to run away.

Sometimes I wonder if all this productivity stuff is a way of tricking the inmates into guarding themselves. Why constantly try to make your employees work all the time without stopping when you can get a guy to convince them it is empowering to do so on their own? There was a time when a business man on a business trip could read a book or catch a nap on the train without feeling like he was shirking work.

That being said, while I’m going to try to be more suspicious, I still appreciate what I’ve learned from the GTD book and am still confident I could learn more.

But there is now definitely a creepiness factor involved. I liked it better when I was blissfully unaware.

The Brazen Careerist on GTD

This is an amazing “bobo” column on why this generation of young people is earning less than the previous generation at that age. And she invokes GTD of all things:

Our dreams are tied to time. So it’s no surprise that many of the most popular blogs offer tips for time management and that “getting things done” (GTD in blog-speak) is key to a fulfilling life.

The new American dream is that we will have fulfilling work that leaves plenty of time for the other things we love. In this respect, Generation X is doing better than our parents. We are spending more time with our kids, and we are keeping our marriages together more than twice as effectively as our parents did. And Generation Y is doing better than their parents, too. They refuse to waste their time on meaningless entry level work because they value their time and their ability to grow.

OK, I love GTD (when I can find the time!), but I wonder how many children these people have that this looks like a valuable trade.  It isn’t self-evident to me how to do GTD while working mostly at home with a family of four….

Great tips. My favoirite: “Each night before you go to bed, prepare a 3×5 index card with a short list of 3 to 5 things that you will do the next day. And then, the next day, do those things.” Hat Tip: 43 folders