#Listography – Top 5 Websites

An interesting challenge from Kate Takes 5 this week.  My top 5 websites.

Working in IT I spend a huge amount of time on the web trying to solve problems, learning new stuff, writing/coding sites of my own.  If I picked the sites that appeared at the top of my bookmarks list I don’t think you’d be inspired!

  1. http://drupal.org – Home of my content-management-system of choice. An excellent piece of infinitely extendible software but kind of like using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut for some of the uses I’ve put it to!
  2. http://www.php.net – Documentation for my favourite programming language.
  3. http://css3clickchart.com – Reference for all the fun stuff you can do with the new style sheet specification (if you don’t know what that means, you probably don’t need to know.
  4. http://jqueryui.com/ – Making websites look good no matter what browser you’re using.
  5. My test server.  I’ll omit the IP address as it wouldn’t work anyway. It’s where projects go to before being released out into the wild so I can tear them apart with development tools.

Not an inspiring list, not unless you’re doing Drupal development or hand-coding stuff.

So.  The other websites.  The ones I really go to…

  • Google Reader – www.google.com/reader – I’m a fan of Google’s products and the Reader is one of my favourites.  It’s an online newsfeed reader.  You know those little “RSS” icons you see on blogs and websites?  There’s a couple up at the top of this page.  They link to the reader and every time a site is updated you get a new item in your news feed.  The reader also syncs with an excellent mobile app so I get the same feeds at the same points on my phone as I do online.  This is one of the 6 tabs I keep pinned open at all times.
  • Toodledo – www.toodledo.com – Online task manager.  Syncs to a mobile app (Pocket Informant on Android).  Similar to “Remember the Milk” but different.  I’m a fan of these “Getting Things Done” sites and I’ll try a different one every year or so.  Toodledo was my site for 2011 and it’s carried over into 2012.
  • If This, Then That – ifttt.com/ – A new discovery for me, If This, Then That connects things together.  “If I create a new post on my blog, post it to Facebook” is the sort of thing it does – only with hundreds of possible combinations of things.  Excellent discovery, excellent site.  Best thing is, no plugins needed for your blog. It just knows.
    If This, Then That
  • Twitter – twitter.com/#!/dogbombs – I know Kate’s mentioned Twitter herself, but it’s such a superb site that I couldn’t let it pass.  It’s also one of the tabs I have pinned open, in the form of Tweetdeck.
  • Lifehacker.com – Just because.  I have this site as a newsfeed in Google Reader, as a site I visit usually 2 or 3 times a day and as an email digest sent through a couple of times a week.  It’s excellent and I urge you to go there.  If you don’t find anything useful, at the bottom of the page there are the partner sites and I guarantee you’ll find something there.
Now head over to Kate Takes 5, which by rights should’ve been the 5th site on this list as there’s always something new and interesting there, and see where everyone else goes.

Oi! JFD, mate. JFD. Or, the art of getting things done (#GTD)

JFD, boy. JFD. Or, the Art of Getting Things Done (#GTD)

Getting Things Done, a way of organising your thoughts, your tasks, yourself, is quite a beast to get your head around. It sounded very simple when I came across it on Lifehacker. It sounded like just the thing I needed to organise myself. Oooh and there are apps for my phone, programs for my computer and olivine for my browser! This sounds perfect! Because, you see, if a system is complicated enough it becomes another method for not getting things done whils appearing to be extremely organised.

Five labels sit at the heart of the GTD method: Next, Action, Waiting, Someday and (the golden one) Finished. The flow goes something like this:

1. Item enters your world. It gets put into your Inbox.
2. At a suitable time during the day you examine your Inbox and assign a label to each item in there.
3. Anything labelled “Next” you see if you can do straight away. If you can’t, why not? What’s stopping you? Can you resolve that now or do you have to relabel the item “Waiting” and add what you’re waiting for to the Inbox?
4. Repeat for all the “Action” items
5. Have a look and see if anything in the “Waiting” category can be resolved
6. Have a look at your “Someday” list and see if you can do anything with any of them.
7. Anything you complete gets labelled “Finished” and you give yourself a gold star.
By the time you’ve done all that, your Inbox should be empty and ready to receive the next load of things that are invariable coming your way.

In order that you don’t get swamped under a sea of things labelled as “Next” you can apply Contexts to them – are they things you should be doing at home? At work? When you’re driving? (obviously anything involving detailed use of a computer or phone shouldn’t be attempted while driving!). These are “Contexts” and they’re very useful for making that vast task list more manageable.

Then there are project labels. Each project gets a label so you can work out quickly how you’re doing on a given project. There are also “Type” labels – not everything that comes in is going to be a task, sometimes it’ll be a useful Resource, some background Information, a Contact related to the task,a project or context.

So, essentially, everything that you’ve examined from your Inbod should have 4 labels. That way you can filter all this stuff – organise it, some might say – in order to get things done more efficiently. And this is where the apps come in.

As a task manager, when it comes to one you can access from pretty much anywhere (as long as you have it on your person) you can’t beat pen and paper. You can enhance it with the Pocket PDA planner templates at www.gtdplanner.com, giving you task and action lists, project templates… Lots of lovely stuff. And you get a pack of their widgets so you can design your own templates using OpenOffice.

But I’m a geek, so pen and paper didn’t quite cut it for me. I headed for the Internet and found…

Toodledo. Located at www.Toodledo.com this task manager is a rival to www.rememberthemilk.com. Both are excellent tools, both give you all the labels and contexts you could wish for but Toodledo came out ahead because of sub task support and better notes/comments. It doesn’t have a dedicated Android app, unlike RTM but it does connect to the Pocket Informant app. I’ll add screenshots
later. Both Toodledo and RTM are free, so I’d recommend taking hem both for a spin.

Pocket Informant for Android takes the native calendar functions of the phone and dovetails on task management seamlessly. I use it predominantly to add alarms and alerts to tasks, remind me if I’ve got something important to do.

So that’s my gtd setup. Pen and paper to note stuff down, online task manager to track the tasks themselves, phone app to alert me when stuff really needs doing. By and large, it works. But your mileage may vary. And don’t get me started on tracking and dealing with emails! That’s a subject for another day.

This has been done on an iPad, the first time I’ve had a serious go with one. They’re rather good but I hope the new android tablets coming out are going to be better! I’ll add screenshots to the post when I get back to my pc.