Tag Archives: Getting Things Done

The Things We Say

Were,that we would lead lives with things said & done.

I was walking hurriedly to catch up to two lady friends. Well. More like friendly acquaintances,but one of them, I have always said to myself,is my close friend.

They were up ahead and headed to the club. Funny thing is, one does not drink,but I say to myself that the reason she goes out is she loves having company.

The other,my friend, was deep in a juicy personal story about her escapades and both were giggling like teenagers by the time I caught up.

The fact was,that even though I say to myself we are friends,there are things she would never say, say, said juicy story, and I was delighted at having a glimpse of this side I had always been interested in, but always told myself we could never talk about.

Isn’t that a Pandora’s Box situation right there?do I really want to say things about myself as well?

In any case the giggles cascaded and the story subtly muted as I came astride.

I walked quietly and said to myself that from my glances,they would notice my belated interest in the said story; And much too late I chuckled enthusiastically and said…”what was that about…” when we were drawing up to the club,but alas, the conversation had turned to lighter subjects.

This is an exclusive place, I said to myself.

We ran up the stairs past the garcon,straight to the security draw bridge.

I went up to the lady and asked for admission. My ladies walked by and said…Hey,just come. As they giggled and walked on confidently.
Maybe its free for ladies? I said to myself.

My uncertainities had tied me in by then,and my company was inside. Two beautiful ladies,these places always let the pretty ones in for free,eye candy,I said to myself.

The lady said…” Imejaaa”. And looked on laconically. There isn’t more to be said, I said to myself.
Said I, “Hatuwezi jaribu tu, my friends are in there. At least let me tell them.”
“No. Si uko na simu,wapigie!”,Said she.

The delight of happenstance.

The manager of the club happened to be walking out. Do not ask me how I knew he was the manager, I knew. So I got his attention and sought entry.

As happens in such places,there was a pile up of waiting humans behind me,who couldn’t understand what the issue was.

All Mr.Manager did was pick up his phone and muttered in the general direction of me,the watchwoman and the queue …” Kuna wazungu ndani” as he walked away.

Those mutters may have been “kuna watu wengi ndani” I said to myself. He couldn’t possibly in this day and age of furore over The Chinese Restaurant,Caramel and Art Cafe still have just added his spot to the list of racist establishments?

Well whatever he did say,because he couldn’t possibly have said what I heard him say,I said to myself,my fate is sealed.

I texted the girls that I was gonna headout, and I would see them in the morrow.

This story is filled with the following barriers to living full lives:
1.Things we say to ourselves inside
2.Things we think others are saying to us
3. Things we don’t say.

So many turns in this story are determined by things unsaid,words unspoken,meanings misunderstood,presumptions made.

Were,that we would lead lives with things said & done.



Depth in categorization has been a gargantuan challenge to most productivity applications. The typical approach, a stance taken by Evernote, Producteev, and RTM, has been to follow the user everywhere you are, and allow you to submit tasks, attach notes, links, references, pictures from various sources both offline and online.This is the where the differentiation battles have been; in the depths of interactions with other apps, gadgets and platforms as they arrive.

So you get to centralize your work from anywhere. But our categories and documentation styles are different. This increase in complexity of software integration and interface is the challenge to app makers as it of course stretches their r&d budget.

Workflowy takes a different stance. Workflowy is lists on steroids.

Their differentiators are clear.

1.  Centralization.

No online offline business, no multiple apps for this and for that. Just their site, http://www.workflowy.com

The steps to take, in their own words:

      1. Go to workflowy.com.
      2. Create top-level items called ‘Personal’ and ‘Work’.
      3. Click the bullet point next to ‘Personal’ to zoom in.
        • Create a ‘Chores’ item. List under it everything you need to do in the next week.
        • Create a ‘Goals’ item. List under it everything you want to get done in the next month and year.

Zoom out and start on the ‘Work’ section.

This should be enough to get you started.

2.  Free-Form.

WorkFlowy is free-form and you can use it however you like.

This free-form format is their separator from the other applications and it drills down to categories and subcategories as deep as you are willing to go.

Given a list of similar applications,It would be the simplest to use. Being the closest thing to your regular notepad, it is fun to use too.

It allows you to write your lists or notes the way you want to write them, the way it works for you. If you favor the GTD method, use it, if your form of categorization is no categorization, go ahead, if you prefer my method of Future, Now and Past, go on.

3. UI

It has been largely a race towards deeper complexity in getting things done, so much so one  requires to study books to utilize methodologies to accomplish ones own goals. This is no jibe at all, a book like Sally McGhee and John Wittry’s  “Take Back Your Life!Using Microsoft Outlook to Get Organized and Stay Organized” has been my personal productivity bible for a while, and I just heard about Darren Crawford’s Getting Things Done Using Evernote.

But what happened to just having a notebook and writing it all down? Finding the drive to achieve what you want to achieve from negative experiences, positive experiences and measurable goals?   Writers too, are encouraged to write on a paper scrap book for ideas to flow and come to fruition.

Well Workflowy have done just that. It’s the closest thing you can get to a magical notepad that shrinks to a few headers, or digs deep into other specific content.


Working with teams. It seems at present to be geared specifically for the individual user, I am unsure how the team aspect that has been well incorporated in Producteev and Evernote would be executed here.

Content Types. Can you draw? Sketch? Yes you can add links, but I think, at first glance, that that’s it. So its limited in scope, It is very specific in what its intents are, the outline of a project or a GTD plan.

Beels & Whistles. I talked of Asana, which, while being challenged in the depth of categorization sector, takes a deeper step in alerts on milestones attained and unattained to email and other media.

Workflowy is a turbo-charged list. That’s it.

Asana- Productivity at its simplest

There are always artists who are in the periphery of the mainstream music circles,with unbelievable music, but unknown worldwide, because of insufficient marketing muscle,on principle,an unfortunate twist of fate, or some other obscure reason.

Often it is a friend who shares this strangely beautiful music with one, or some chance flick to a strange channel,or soundtrack to a movie…

It always feels like discovering a theretofore unbeknownst jewel…

 my precious

This is how I discovered Asana.

I was discussing Service Management,Project Management and CRM software with industry colleagues and of course all the billboard artists, the blockbuster chart toppers came up.

Microsoft Projects, IBM Tivoli Service Management, Salesforce, Sugar CRM…

The lightweight online versions like chatter and Free CRM also came up.

A friend mentioned Asana. “Never heard of it”, was the general consensus.

But she stated that we should all give it a try.

I got the invite in my mail, and promptly sent it to junk.

Later that week I got a client request for a cheap and lightweight online project management software. I did not want to respond with a system of GTD solutions like Evernote, RTM and Producteev, as they require a systemic change in how things are done, change which is sometimes too daunting for some to do on their own.Actually, come to think of it, Producteev would also have suited them just fine. Neither did he require the overkill of IBM’s Lotus Live or MS Projects.

In any case, as I had forgotten the name of the service my friend had recommended, I dug back into junk and retrieved the mail, clicked the link and got onto Asana.


Asana is a simple online task management software. It makes the whole concept easy by using the Asana portal as the sole task and activities management area.


Its structure is simple, structured as most email services are structured, quite like Evernote, the Task pane on the extreme left, the task and item particulars in the middle and a third pane on the extreme right with project details.

This familiarity in user experience makes the site very easy to adapt to whether you knew of it or not.

An administrator gives the standard admin rights, manager rights, or view only rights to anyone by email.


Having just read the Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda, ( A must read by the way,)I admire Asana for staying true to the task of simplicity in getting things done. Its made to simply get whatever needs doing to get done. Its simple.

Cool factor two, it integrates with Gmail. If you use gmail and have extended its notifications to mobile, then this, for you, automatically means the project management of Asana extends to your mobile phone.For Free. COOOL.

A third cool factor, notifications of all tasks go to an active email, whether internal or external this expands the users who can access and easily attend to the tasks whether they know about Asana or not.


Depth of classification: From my assessment, Asana has two levels of project depth, the project itself, then line tasks within the project. However I think allowing for deeper stratification would make it seem more complex, as it is its target is people who want to manage simple projects. I think its whole concept is simplicity.

Creation of Tasks and Assignment: Some may see it a a detriment that one cannot assign and create  tasks from multiple external methods like SMS, twitter, Facebook,and the plethora of online links and media.

Again,I think that its purpose is productivity on specific projects. Simplicity is one of the key principles of any productive GTD methodology. In reality our e-mails are the main area which we work from, where we receive and delegate projects and tasks and evaluate results.


Despite it not being a mainstream artist, Asana is extremely effective.

If you need to Get Things Done, Asana is for you. Simplicity through a single collection point and management point on evaluation gives clarity on what is and is not performing well, and Asana does it. Very well.