Tag Archives: Productivity

Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools



Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools Keeping track of your own to-dos is hard, but keeping track of shared to-dos and tasks with dependencies can be even more difficult. Earlier in the week, we asked you to nominate the tools you use to manage shared to-do lists. You responded, and now we’re back to highlight the five most popular ones.

The nominations this week were all over the map. A number of you use a wide variety of utilities and tools to manage group to-dos, whether the tool was built for that purpose or you’ve re-purposed a tool for the job. Here are the most popular. Photo by Jay and Melissa Malouin.

Basecamp

Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools Basecamp has grown to be one of the web’s most prominent tools for online collaboration. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can get shared to-do lists with assignable items, a shared calendar of events complete with milestones and major deadlines on the calendar, private chat, document sharing, and more. Many of the world’s biggest companies use Basecamp for group projects and collaboration. Basecamp can be pricey though, with plans that range from $49/month to $99/month and topping off at $149/month, it might be too much if you just want to organize a family reunion, but perfect for a startup company’s new software rollout.

Remember the Milk

Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools Remember the Milk is one of our favorite to-do managers for personal use, but a number of you use it to keep groups on the same page as well. It really needs no introduction, but Remember the Milk offers mobile apps, the ability to tag to-dos with location, and organize sequential tasks with dependancies. The app also allows you to share your to-dos with others who have work assigned to them. Accounts are free, but mobile apps, email support, Outlook Sync, and the latest features will set you back $25/year.

Cozi

Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools Cozi is specifically designed for small groups to manage shared to-dos. The dev lead stopped by the nominations thread to share the app, pointed out that Cozi offers multiple users in the same space, multiple to-do lists with individual owners, shared due-dates, and mobile apps to keep track of work. Cozi even offers shared calendars for tracking milestones or deadlines, and even shopping lists and journals for families or households using the service. Plus, it’s completely free.

Producteev

Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools Another service we’ve mentioned before, Producteev allows you to add to-dos easily, manage them via the Web or iOS app, assign items to team members, share documents, workspaces, and whiteboards, get email alerts to new tasks and deadlines, and the whole thing syncs with Google Calendar. The suite’s features scale whether you’re a small team, a family looking to organize a trip, or a business. Producteev has a free basic account, but $5/month gives you SSL encryption, more storage, and a customizable workspace for 2 users. For groups of 3 or more, you’ll want the $20/month group plan, or the $30/month “platinum” plan that gives you phone support, more storage, and reporting.

Spreadsheets

Five Best Group To-Do Management Tools Whether they’re spreadsheets in Google Docs, Microsoft Excel, or Zoho Docs, many of you said you just enter to-dos into spreadsheets and send them around to others if you need to get updates from multiple people or assign them work. As someone who used to do project management, I’ve seen enough spreadsheets disguised as project plans and task lists to agree that sometimes the best tool is the one you already have.

Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to vote for an all-out winner.

What’s the Best Group To-Do Management Tool?
Basecamp
Remember the Milk
Cozi
Producteev
Spreadsheets

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What’s the Best Group To-Do Management Tool?<span style=”font-size:9px;”>online survey</span><br>

There were a lot of nominations this week, so it’s no surprise some of your favorites weren’t included. Share them in the comments below and let us know why you use the app you like the most!

You can reach Alan Henry, the author of this post, at alan@lifehacker.com, or better yet, follow him on Twitter.

How to Write a Great To-Do List (And Why You Need To) – by Dumb Little Man


Do you have so much to do that you just don’t know where to begin?

We all feel like that sometimes – maybe most of the time. When there’s a whole bunch of different commitments and responsibilities pressing on is, it’s easy to freeze up and do nothing at all.

That’s why you need a to-do list and more importantly perhaps, you have to execute on it. Listing things simply to clear your mind isn’t good enough. It is however a start so let’s begin there.

It helps you:

  • Beat overwhelm – it’s easier to get a grip when you can see what you really need to do, in black and white

  • Remember everything – you can get all those little things off your mind and onto paper, so that you don’t forget anything crucial
  • Stay on track – so that you don’t end up wasting time doing the wrong things
  • Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably had plenty of experience with to-do lists during your life. Maybe you’ve written out a list every January of things you really want to accomplish that year – only to find that you’ve accomplished precisely none of them by December. Or perhaps every Monday morning, you write a list for the week – only to find it falling apart by lunchtime.

    So, here’s how to create a to-do list that will actually work for you.

    1. Write Down Everything That’s On Your Mind
      You’ve probably got a whole bunch of stuff in your head right now: tasks to do, projects to complete, things you need to buy, phone calls to make, and so on.

      Grab a piece of paper or fire up an app, and write it all down. This might take 10-15 minutes and you may end up with a horribly long list. Don’t worry – we’re not going to tackle it all!

  • Find the Important Tasks
    Look through your list and highlight anything that’s important. That might be mission-critical tasks at work, promises that you’ve made at home, or anything that’s going to cause you a lot of inconvenience if it doesn’t get done (like paying your bills).

    It’s up to you to decide what counts as “important” – it’s not just about work tasks. If you’d really love to start a blog, take a pottery class or go skydiving, those can go on your important list too.

  • Find the Urgent Tasks
    Go through your list again, ideally with a different colored highlighter. This time, pick out anything that’s urgent. These might not be especially important tasks – but they need to be completed within the next few days.

    Urgent tasks might be taking back your library books, making a phone call, sending out an email, or similar. Again, it’s up to you to decide what counts as urgent – you might want to focus on tasks for the next day or for the next week.

  • Pick Two Important Tasks
    Now, look at your important tasks. Choose:
    • One small task to do today (like “finish that report and send it to the boss”)

  • One medium-sized task to do some time this week (like “write the first chapter of my novel”)
  • Depending on your schedule and the size of the tasks, you might want to pick two or three tasks in each category. Make sure that you phrase your to-do list items as actual tasks. “Report” is not a task; “Write the conclusion to the report” is.

  • Add in Urgent Tasks
    Hopefully, you won’t have too many urgent tasks … but even if you feel overwhelmed by them, it’s still a good idea to get your important tasks in place first. (That way, you avoid building up a backlog of tasks that keeps you chasing urgent things rather than important ones.)

    If you can, ditch any urgent-but-unimportant tasks, or get someone else to give you a hand to get through them.

    Again, make sure that you break the items down into specific actions (especially if you’re going to be delegating).

  • Make a To-Do List Every Morning
    Now that you’ve got a big list of tasks, it’s easy to look through each morning and decide what needs to be done. Every day, pick one – three important tasks, and make these a real priority. Jot down any urgent tasks too, so that you don’t forget them.

    Your to-do list is a powerful tool to help you avoid procrastination: if you have a clearly-defined list of tasks, it’s easy to work through them.

  • Do you write out regular to-do lists? What has – or hasn’t – worked for you?

    Written on 7/5/2011 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing. Photo Credit: Florian

    How to Write a Great To-Do List (And Why You Need To) – by Dumb Little Man


    Do you have so much to do that you just don’t know where to begin?

    We all feel like that sometimes – maybe most of the time. When there’s a whole bunch of different commitments and responsibilities pressing on is, it’s easy to freeze up and do nothing at all.

    That’s why you need a to-do list and more importantly perhaps, you have to execute on it. Listing things simply to clear your mind isn’t good enough. It is however a start so let’s begin there.

    It helps you:

    • Beat overwhelm – it’s easier to get a grip when you can see what you really need to do, in black and white

  • Remember everything – you can get all those little things off your mind and onto paper, so that you don’t forget anything crucial
  • Stay on track – so that you don’t end up wasting time doing the wrong things
  • Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably had plenty of experience with to-do lists during your life. Maybe you’ve written out a list every January of things you really want to accomplish that year – only to find that you’ve accomplished precisely none of them by December. Or perhaps every Monday morning, you write a list for the week – only to find it falling apart by lunchtime.

    So, here’s how to create a to-do list that will actually work for you.

    1. Write Down Everything That’s On Your Mind
      You’ve probably got a whole bunch of stuff in your head right now: tasks to do, projects to complete, things you need to buy, phone calls to make, and so on.

      Grab a piece of paper or fire up an app, and write it all down. This might take 10-15 minutes and you may end up with a horribly long list. Don’t worry – we’re not going to tackle it all!

  • Find the Important Tasks
    Look through your list and highlight anything that’s important. That might be mission-critical tasks at work, promises that you’ve made at home, or anything that’s going to cause you a lot of inconvenience if it doesn’t get done (like paying your bills).

    It’s up to you to decide what counts as “important” – it’s not just about work tasks. If you’d really love to start a blog, take a pottery class or go skydiving, those can go on your important list too.

  • Find the Urgent Tasks
    Go through your list again, ideally with a different colored highlighter. This time, pick out anything that’s urgent. These might not be especially important tasks – but they need to be completed within the next few days.

    Urgent tasks might be taking back your library books, making a phone call, sending out an email, or similar. Again, it’s up to you to decide what counts as urgent – you might want to focus on tasks for the next day or for the next week.

  • Pick Two Important Tasks
    Now, look at your important tasks. Choose:
    • One small task to do today (like “finish that report and send it to the boss”)

  • One medium-sized task to do some time this week (like “write the first chapter of my novel”)
  • Depending on your schedule and the size of the tasks, you might want to pick two or three tasks in each category. Make sure that you phrase your to-do list items as actual tasks. “Report” is not a task; “Write the conclusion to the report” is.

  • Add in Urgent Tasks
    Hopefully, you won’t have too many urgent tasks … but even if you feel overwhelmed by them, it’s still a good idea to get your important tasks in place first. (That way, you avoid building up a backlog of tasks that keeps you chasing urgent things rather than important ones.)

    If you can, ditch any urgent-but-unimportant tasks, or get someone else to give you a hand to get through them.

    Again, make sure that you break the items down into specific actions (especially if you’re going to be delegating).

  • Make a To-Do List Every Morning
    Now that you’ve got a big list of tasks, it’s easy to look through each morning and decide what needs to be done. Every day, pick one – three important tasks, and make these a real priority. Jot down any urgent tasks too, so that you don’t forget them.

    Your to-do list is a powerful tool to help you avoid procrastination: if you have a clearly-defined list of tasks, it’s easy to work through them.

  • Do you write out regular to-do lists? What has – or hasn’t – worked for you?

    Written on 7/5/2011 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing. Photo Credit: Florian

    From Ridiculous to Brilliant: Why We Play at Work #in

    From MIT World Distributed Intelligence

    The American workplace might be better off if it borrowed some concepts from a typical kindergarten classroom, including bins with toys, and unstructured time with friends. Two partners from IDEO, a global power in design and branding, discuss the importance of play in their creative process, and offer techniques that other organizations could profit from….

     

    http://18.9.60.136/flash/player/Main.swf?host=cp58255.edgefcs.net&flv=mitw-01441-ed-arcade-pt-7-boyle-ideo-play-29apr2011&preview=http://18.9.60.136//uploads/mitwstill01441edarcadept7boyleideoplay29apr2011.jpg

    Find out more about this lecture here: MIT World

    How attention works (via @SimoleanSense)

    Thanks to @SimoleanSense for the find.

    From Ridiculous to Brilliant: Why We Play at Work #in

    From MIT World Distributed Intelligence

    The American workplace might be better off if it borrowed some concepts from a typical kindergarten classroom, including bins with toys, and unstructured time with friends. Two partners from IDEO, a global power in design and branding, discuss the importance of play in their creative process, and offer techniques that other organizations could profit from….

     

    http://18.9.60.136/flash/player/Main.swf?host=cp58255.edgefcs.net&flv=mitw-01441-ed-arcade-pt-7-boyle-ideo-play-29apr2011&preview=http://18.9.60.136//uploads/mitwstill01441edarcadept7boyleideoplay29apr2011.jpg

    Find out more about this lecture here: MIT World

    How attention works (via @SimoleanSense)

    Thanks to @SimoleanSense for the find.

    Why we have brain farts, and what scientists are doing to stop them


    I was absent-mindedly shoveling cereal into my mouth when the brainfart struck: my hand decided to reroute the incoming spoon’s flight trajectory into my cheek. As I sat there with milk dripping down my chin, my immediate reaction was to blame my hand. But then I realized that my hand had just been following orders. If anyone was to blame here, it was my brain. Turns out that neuroscientists agree with me.

    Brain farts, the momentary lapses in attention that strike when you least expect them, may actually be rooted in abnormal patterns of brain activity. Neuroscientists call them “maladaptive brain states.” We spoke to researchers in an emerging field of neuroscience that examines these brain states to learn about the neurological basis of brain farts, their potential evolutionary origins, and how they might one day be a thing of the past.

    For a long time, the mistakes caused by brain farts during monotonous tasks were chalked up to momentary, unavoidable fluctuations in brain activity. Consequently, much of the research since the early nineties surrounding human error and brain activity has been focused on how our brains react to mistakes in order to facilitate processes like correction and learning. In contrast, very little attention has been paid to what goes on in our brains in the moments leading up to a mistake.

    But a handful of recent studies have demonstrated that what we refer to colloquially as “brain farts” may actually be rooted in a number maladaptive brain states. These unusual neural patterns happen when you’re doing monotonous or repetitive activities — and they can develop as many as thirty seconds before a mistake occurs. It’s this aspect of the maladaptive brain state that has led some scientists to conclude that we may one day be capable of predicting, and preventing, the elusive brain fart.

    Continues here… io9.com

    Why we have brain farts, and what scientists are doing to stop them


    I was absent-mindedly shoveling cereal into my mouth when the brainfart struck: my hand decided to reroute the incoming spoon’s flight trajectory into my cheek. As I sat there with milk dripping down my chin, my immediate reaction was to blame my hand. But then I realized that my hand had just been following orders. If anyone was to blame here, it was my brain. Turns out that neuroscientists agree with me.

    Brain farts, the momentary lapses in attention that strike when you least expect them, may actually be rooted in abnormal patterns of brain activity. Neuroscientists call them “maladaptive brain states.” We spoke to researchers in an emerging field of neuroscience that examines these brain states to learn about the neurological basis of brain farts, their potential evolutionary origins, and how they might one day be a thing of the past.

    For a long time, the mistakes caused by brain farts during monotonous tasks were chalked up to momentary, unavoidable fluctuations in brain activity. Consequently, much of the research since the early nineties surrounding human error and brain activity has been focused on how our brains react to mistakes in order to facilitate processes like correction and learning. In contrast, very little attention has been paid to what goes on in our brains in the moments leading up to a mistake.

    But a handful of recent studies have demonstrated that what we refer to colloquially as “brain farts” may actually be rooted in a number maladaptive brain states. These unusual neural patterns happen when you’re doing monotonous or repetitive activities — and they can develop as many as thirty seconds before a mistake occurs. It’s this aspect of the maladaptive brain state that has led some scientists to conclude that we may one day be capable of predicting, and preventing, the elusive brain fart.

    Continues here… io9.com

    Five Steps To Take a Vacation in a Highly Connected World by Jeremiah Owyang #Wisdom2Conf

    What? Are you serious? Who needs a guide on how to take a vacation? As we become more connected through mobile devices, our always-on jobs, and our expanding online social networks, it’s harder to break away from the physical aspects of work, and even more importantly, the developing mental separation from work and daily life woes to really relax and recharge.

    This was my first time unplugged in a few years, and now that Altimeter Group is continuing to safely grow (and hiring) it was a good time to take two weeks completely away from work, and week completely unplugged in the remote Fiji islands.

    Well, I should point the finger at myself first, as I live and work, a highly connected lifestyle. It was hard for me to take time off, but I was successfully able to disconnect, both the wireless connection –and mental disconnection from work. I want to share five steps on how to have a successful vacation when you’re a highly connected individual.

    Five Steps To Take a Vacation in a Highly Connected World:

    Step 1: Take a Vacation. Really. Take one. Or at least, plan for one right now. In fact, the American workforce is less likely to take vacation than many other industrialized nations. Even if your budgets or schedule is limited, take a staycation. Lower cost alternatives include camping at your local beach and national park, or even staying in a nice hotel in your home city on the other side of town. Secondly

    Step 2: Properly Plan To Leave Woes Behind. make some deals with your colleagues that they will cover for you when you’re gone, and you’ll do the same for them. Then, let your customers, clients, partners, and other important folks, at least 30 days in advance, to set expectations. Lastly, let folks know you’ll be completely disconnected, and they should send you important emails that require action to your colleagues, or after you return: set expectations. Special thanks to Altimeter’s Julie Viola, Christine Tran, Andrew Jones, Charlene Li, and others for covering for me during my downtime.

    Step 3: Unplug, Even Forcibly If Needed.. So the best way for me to be unplug is to go to an area where there’s no electronic devices, and spent time island in the remote Fiji islands where there’s no cars, TVs, radio, internet, for most islands, you don’t have to go to the other side of the planet to do this, just leave your electronics in the hotel safe. If you truly lack self control, you can disconnect, unpower your devices, or even have your carriers cut off access for a short period of time. Taking time off from social networks (even beyond your vacation) is a good ideas. See what happened when I took a few weeks off from Twitter, my world was just fine.

    Step 4: Use Your “Idea Freezer”. Physically being on the beach is much different than mentally being on the beach. One trick to deploy is having a way to shed ideas, so you can resume them after you return –without them interfering into your peaceful brain. The best way is to have a ‘mental freezer’ such as a notepad (I always carry a Moleskine see how I use it to stay organized) by the bed stand to write down any invasive work idea came into your head whatever they are. Quickly slay those ideas, by putting pen to paper, and leaving them in the freezer and expanding your mindshare for other ideas. After a few days, you should settle into your relaxing vacation, worry-free. The great thing about the idea freezer is that they will be there when it’s time to come to reality, all thawed out.

    Step 5: Do a Counter Cycle. It’s so easy to yearn to go back to our daily routine so try new experience to expand your mind. Do something opposite to your daily routine (hence the “counter cycle”): exercise, read leisurely books, or just get some sun I find that mixing with different cultures gives me a unique perspective I can take home and reapply to life and work. For example, spending time with the leisurely Fijians on “Fiji Time” (which is far slower than Hawaiian time) helped me to refocus on what’s really important in life.

    If you’ve followed these steps, of actually planning, unplugging, then mentally refreshing yourself on your holiday, congratulations, you’ve successfully taken a vacation in a highly connected world, and are ready to return to the land of the connected.


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