Category: Productivity

Use Asana for planning

As a follow up to the previous post, I wanted to quickly share this video on how to use Asana for planning. This makes use of a neat feature in Asana where you can assign multiple projects to the same task. Incidentally this is also the same trick that allows me to see projects in both List and Kanban views.

There are more productivity tips by the author, so check out the channel for other videos if you are interested in the topic.

Online task management tools

Ever since I started using smartphones (the iPhone Gen. 1 being my first!), I have been on the lookout for a good task management tool, for both work or personal use. During this time, many apps were trialed – this was also when the GTD fad appeared – and gradually I got to know features that suited my needs. Eventually I settled on Trello which has three features I consider essential to this day:

  1. Online, and preferably can be used inside a browser.
  2. Must be able to synchronise across devices: PC, phone, tablet.
  3. Allows collaboration, but has public and private areas.

Trello is especially notable for its visual approach (the Kanban presentation) and allows me to easily switch between devices (add/edit tasks, checking progress on the fly, etc.) As a matter of fact, I have been using Trello on and off since its initial release in 2011. Apart from managing personal to-do lists and work tasks, I used Trello to manage the volunteere project for Red Cross (no defunct), organising meet-ups and events for Google Developers’ Group, Singapore chapter. However increasingly I found the Kanban structure insufficient for my use, especially in the last 3 years or so. My biggest gripe with the kanban format was that while it was good for workflow and projects with a clear chronological/progression-type ordering, it became unwieldy when you were running multiple projects or simply have too many upcoming tasks. For example, you might end up with a super-long list of boards under To Do but only a few under Waiting/Doing or vice versa (inefficient use of screen space).

This leads to my current favourite app Asana. I have only just discovered Asana and I am really loving the tool. The main features that have impressed me so far compared to Trello: read more

How to retract a message in Gmail

I guess at some point in time everyone’s wished that they can retract some emails they’d accidentally sent to the wrong person or perhaps with incorrect spelling or incomplete information? Well, it just happened to me a few minutes ago. Really wish that I’d remember about this setting before sending the email!

Productivity tools

Although I have dabbled with (as a user) a number of productivity/to-do list/GTD/project management tools in the past, it’s not until this year that I have taken them more seriously. In all cases, I almost invariably only try applications when there is an accompanying mobile app because I figured without the mobile support, I probably wouldn’t be using the app so frequently. In hindsight, I think having some sort of discipline is essential – regardless of whether using a mobile app or not, although the mobile aspect adds to the motivation definitely.

  • Basecamp (Android, iOS, sort-of): Enterprise-grade project management. My big peeve is that there is no good mobile app and the email notifications are not sufficiently informative for ease of keeping track of conversations.
  • Dropbox: No explanations needed…
  • Evernote (Android, iOS): Heard of this app since its beginning a few years ago. Didn’t take it seriously until recently when I decided to use it to store online resources; still not really using it to track documents and stuff.
  • Google Docs: This online office suite and repository of documents is extremely powerful, in case you have not discovered the power of it. Can’t live without it! 🙂
  • Google Keep(Android only?): New addition to the Google Drive family. Simple – as in with limitations – app for jotting down short notes. Has the obvious advantage that notes to synced to Google Drive.
  • Todo (iOS): For a couple of years my favourite for its simple interface, until I switched to Android 1.5 years ago.
  • Trello (Android): Discovered it a few months ago, but only now beginning to discover innovative ways of using this deceptively simple app. May replace Wunderlist down the line. Very fast for synchronisation and mobile UI.
  • Wunderlist (Android, iOS): Started using since last year. Liked it for the simple interface and user-experience was somewhat similar ti Todo.

Honorable mentions which I eventually discarded:

  • Google tasks
  • Remember the milk
  • Things
  • Toodledoo

Searching comes to desktop

On a suggestion from one of my colleagues, I decided to give Google Desktop Search another try. I was not particulary impressed the first time I tried it a few months ago – admittedly it was during the Beta phase. This time, however, I have to say that I am very impressed! It managed to track down some emails that I have forgotten which folder I have filed into (since I switched to full-time use of Thunderbird from Eudora at work). Way to go!

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