LifeTopix 7.0 and My.Agenda 2.0 Guided Tour

Team LightArrow is very excited about our new updates of LifeTopix and My.Agenda. Our new updates include several new features to maximize your productivity at home, at work, and while you’re on the go. Keep reading to learn how you can take advantage of the latest features.

Shopping Improvements

We’re super excited about the Shopping topic’s complete redesign. I encourage you to explore this topic and experience the new features for yourself, and I’ll touch on the highlights here.

The Shopping topic is now so feature rich, it’s available as a stand-alone app for those who only wish to manage shopping and coupons. You can find the stand-alone app at the Apple App Store (My.Shopping).

You’ll first notice the new view of the Shopping topic. It’s redesigned to make it easier to add and view shopping items, shopping lists, things to sell, gifts for others, gifts received, coupons, products, and sellers. You’ll see the shopping items, lists, etc. that are due or coming due in the What Matters Now “ribbon” and items you haven’t purchased yet in the Open Shopping Items “ribbon.” The plus sign makes it easy to add shopping items on the fly from this view. The following image shows the redesigned Shopping view.

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LightArrow apps support multiple shopping lists for those who prefer to manage their shopping into separate lists. For example, you might want to create back-to-school lists, grocery lists, business list items, home improvement items, etc. A great feature included with the Shopping list view is the ability to view items by seller or category. The categories you create are completely configurable by you; therefore, you might create categories by grocery aisle, type of grocery item, price level, etc — whatever makes you more productive. You can also view your lists by open or bought items to ensure you’re not returning to the grocery store, office supply store, or mall to pick up the items that you forgot to purchase.

Another great Shopping List feature is the ability to share lists via email with a friend, spouse, housemate or partner. They can open a list directly in their LifeTopix or My.Agenda app from their email. Also, if you’ve set up device-to-device sync and both users are sharing the same Dropbox folder for data, you can share and collaborate using the same shopping list. The following image shows the redesigned Shopping List view.

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Another great addition is how coupons are managed. The coupon management is intended to save you time and money by helping you keep track of coupons and their expiration dates.

For stores that allow electronic versions of coupons, you can take photos of the coupons and access them directly from your app. You can take note of your coupons and add an expiration date. When you’ve added a date tag for coupons, you’ll know immediately when they are going to expire because they will appear in the “What Matters Now” section of the Shopping view as well as the Agenda view. The following image shows the redesigned Coupon view.

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Notes + Files Improvements

We’re equally excited about the Notes + Files topic’s complete redesign. I encourage you to explore this topic and experience the new features for yourself, and I’ll touch on the highlights here.

Notes + Files is now so feature rich, it’s available as a stand-alone app for those who only wish to manage notes, checklists/to-do lists, and online files and notes. You can find the stand-alone apps at the Apple App store (Pro.Notes and My.Notes).

You’ll first notice the new view of the Notes + Files topic. It’s redesigned to make it easier to add and view notes, files, checklists, and drawings. You’ll see the notes and lists that are due or coming due in the What Matters Now “ribbon” and items you recently added or updated in the Recent Items “ribbon.” The plus sign makes it easy to add note items on the fly from this view. The following image shows the redesigned Notes + Files view.

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The drawing capabilities in LifeTopix and My.Agenda have spectacular improvements. The drawing tools have been combined into one control, and a landscape view is now available. Drawing tools include 24 beautiful colors with alpha options; linewidth choices; eraser; clear; undo; print; and email capabilities for drawings. Printing is also available for notes and drawings. Users can now share their drawings via Facebook and Twitter directly from the drawing view.

The following image shows the redesigned drawing view.

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People + Services Improvements

If you’re thrilled about the changes to the Shopping topic and the Notes + Files topic, then you’ll also be excited to see the changes to the People + Services topic. People + Services can now be your central portal for finding information about and contacting your friends, family, colleagues, clients, and service providers.

You’ll notice that we’ve also updated the view with a “ribbon” showing Recent Items and Groups. The following image shows the redesigned People + Services view.

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Imagine the possibilities for keeping in touch with family, clients, friends, and other colleagues. From a central location, you can see their phone number, email address, birthday, anniversary, notes, association with LifeTopix items, and last Twitter and Facebook message for each of your contacts that you’ve set up in LifeTopix or My.Agenda. Instantly, you can send a text message, email, Tweet, or send a Facebook message. You can keep categories — allowing you to easily find your family members, clients, or friends by group. And, as always, the contacts work with your iOS calendar.

The following image shows the redesigned Person view.

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Dynamic Schedules

When scheduling tasks, you can now select the option of Dynamic. If you choose this option, each task is only created after the previous task is cancelled or completed. The Pre-Create option creates all the tasks at once. The new option, Dynamic, is very useful for tasks that need to be completed in a pre-defined or designated order.

Dynamic Schedules

Custom Month Schedules

Custom repeat schedules are now available for tasks and appointments (events). After selecting the month option, you can select specified dates or days on which the appointment or task occurs. This is very useful for events or tasks that are repeated, but occur on varying days.

Custom Month Schedule

Repeat Schedule Preview

We added a preview for scheduling events, as shown in the image below. This ensures that you’ve properly set up a recurring appointment, class or meeting.

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Copy a Project

Due to popular demand, you’re now able to copy a project. The category, description, and starting and end dates are copied to the new project. The following image shows how to copy a project:

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Search

Searching has been improved, our apps now search the content of notes, allowing you to find important information that you’ve added to notes. Also, checklist item titles have been added to search.

Unified Login Management

LifeTopix and My.Agenda include integrations for Twitter™, Facebook™, Dropbox™, SkyDrive™, Evernote®, Toodledo®, and Asana™. To make it easier to enter your credentials for these apps and services, we’ve included a new view for managing your login name and password. To find the new view, go to Settings and tap Logins for Integrations. The following image shows an example of the new view.

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Near Me / Maps Improvements

The Near Me feature includes significant improvements. You can now set locations for service providers, which allows you to better plan your errands to save time and gas. For example, you might add locations for your favorite dry cleaners, grocery stores, markets, or other providers — and refer to them in the Near Me view so you can make sure to locate the providers that are close to your current area while running errands. You will also notice when you’re specifying locations for providers and other items, that the search has been improved.

Refer to the following image to see an example of search when I enter the term “grocery.”

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Photos, Audio, And Video Clips in My Calendar

You now have the option of viewing photos, audio, and video clips in My Calendar. To add or remove the view of these items in your calendar, tap the filter icon in the upper right of the calendar to view the screen shown in the following image. Check the boxes for the items that you wish to view.

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Bonus Theme Colors

If you create an App Store rating from your LightArrow app, the app will provide you with bonus theme colors. The colors are a surprise; however, the following image shows where to start.

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Paid Amount in Bills

When creating a bill payment, you can now enter the paid amount. This is useful to track when the paid amount is different than the amount due. The payment list screen displays the due amount along with the paid amount and the payment template displays the balance.

Full Screen View of Notes Text

We understand that many of you would prefer to see a larger screen version of your notes; therefore, we’ve allowed you to do just that. The following image shows the expanded screen, and how to collapse the screen back to the previous view:

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Smart Conversion

We’ve added the ability for you to convert your device reminders to tasks and shopping items. For example, you might ask Siri to create a reminder for picking up milk to create a device reminder, but this item is better suited as a shopping item. To convert it, tap the icon with the three green dots (or) tap and hold the item to proceed with the conversion. The following image shows an example of converting the item from the Agenda view.

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Additional Alerts

There are now more options in Settings for reminders (alerts) on device calendar events. The following options were added:

  • Remind 15 minutes before
  • Remind 30 minutes before
  • Remind 1 hour before
  • Remind 2 hours before
  • Remind 4 hours before
  • Remind 12 hours before

The following image shows an example of the new settings.

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User-defined Startup View

Now you can define the view that is launched at the time of starting your app. You will find this setting in the My Settings view.

Keep in mind that this setting only takes effect when the app is first started; therefore, you will need to close LifeTopix or My.Agenda and start it again.

Your options include:

  • Home
  • Hot List
  • My Topics
  • My Calendar
  • Recent
  • My Inboxes
  • My Contexts
  • Near Me
  • My Apps
  • Engage
  • Settings
  • Help Center

The following image shows how to specify the default view:

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Reorder Apps in My Apps

The My Apps view allows you to launch other apps from your LifeTopix or My.Agenda app making it easier to launch your favorite apps from one location. You’re now able to reorder these apps as you please by tapping the reorder icon in the upper left, and then dragging and dropping the app into your preferred order. The following image shows an example.

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Miscellaneous Improvements

Defect fixes and speed improvements have also been applied to this release, as well as the additions below:

  • Comment field added to shopping items.
  • When viewing the calendar by week, the app autoscrolls to the first item.
  • Checklists now include due dates.

We hope this helps you understand how to leverage the new features in LifeTopix 7.0 and My.Agenda 2.0. Enjoy!

Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Master Organizing

LifeTopix and My.Agenda are personal organization apps for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Both apps are especially useful for those who utilize David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD) method. The GTD method is an excellent method for organizing your life and getting things done. And it’s not just for your work life. I recently stumbled upon this post from April Perry that mentions how GTD enabled this mom to really enjoy her family.

GTD Lady Post It

We’re constantly incorporating features that are useful for GTD, and we enjoy sharing our best practices for using these features. In this post, I’ll show you how you can use LifeTopix’s features for the Organizing phase of GTD. Keep in mind that our starter App, My.Agenda, can include many of these features discussed by purchasing the Get Things Done Pack as an in-app purchase.

Note: The screenshots in this post were created using an unreleased version of LifeTopix, which will be coming soon to the App Store.

What is GTD?

If you’re not familiar with GTD, it’s “the groundbreaking work-life management system by David Allen that provides concrete solutions for transforming overwhelm and uncertainty into an integrated system of stress-free productivity,” according to David Allen’s website. Allen lays out five key phases of the GTD process, which include 1) Capture/Collect, 2) Process, 3) Organize, 4) Review, and 5) Do. This post focuses on the Organize phase of this workflow.

What is the Organize Phase of GTD?

When you consider organizing, think about how you would divide your home life and work into various areas. Consider how you would sort your life before you get started. In an earlier post, we discussed using LifeTopix to define each collected item as actionable or non-actionable. Once you’ve completed processing items, you can begin organizing them (or this may be done simultaneously for some items). During the Organize phase, you divide your items into various areas.

Major sections include the following areas:

  • Projects – Actions that require more than one step to complete.
  • Calendar Items – Actions that must be completed at a designated day and/or time.
  • Next Actions – Items that only require one step, such as “call mom.”
  • Waiting For – Items that others need to complete that affect you or your work.

Allen suggests that you also organize your reference material, which are items that do not have any actions associated with them.

Reference material might include:

  • Checklists
  • Items without actions, but need to be retrieved at some time
  • Notes from meetings, classes, etc.

Projects in LifeTopix

During the Capture and Collect phase, you collect items that are subsequently processed during the Processing phase. You might have placed them in a holding area via the LifeTopix Quick Inbox and then converted the items to the proper type of object — such as a Project.

Allen suggests that you create projects for actions that require more than one step. For example, if you’re starting a landscaping project, you will have several tasks such as 1) choose three landscape design firms to obtain bids, 2) set up appointments with landscape design firms, 3) choose designs, and so on.

When using LifeTopix, your first step for organizing your projects is to define project categories (under Manage Categories in Settings) that are relevant for your life. Built-in categories include Education, Health + Activity, Indoor, Media, and Outdoor, as shown in the screenshot below.

Project-Categories-LifeTopix

You can add more categories or delete the default categories — LifeTopix is very flexible allowing you to define what works for you. You can further organize by creating subcategories under your categories. Once you’ve created your categories, you can create a project and break it down into tasks, as shown in the following screenshot.

tasks-projects-lifetopix-gtd

As a side note, you can view your tasks by Open, Undated, and Overdue. And you can assign a status such as In Progress, On Hold, Completed, Canceled, or on Hold, if desired.

Calendar Items and Next Actions

Actions that must be completed at a certain date and time, such as classes, meetings, doctor’s appointments, kids’ activities, etc. are handled easily by LifeTopix. Specifically, LifeTopix allows you to define these items by Appointments, Bill Payments, Events, Dated Notes, Occasions, Medications, and Activity/Wellness. By simply accessing LifeTopix’s Calendar View, tapping the plus sign, choosing Quick Add, and selecting one of the options, you can choose to create dated items such as Trips, Visits, Attending Events, Hosting Events, and Occasions.

LifeTopix gives you a variety of options for Next Actions. You can choose to use reminders, tasks not associated with projects, or to-do lists to organize items that only require one step.

Waiting for Items

At times, completion of your tasks might depend upon the completion of a different task by a family member, friend, or colleague. Or, perhaps, you’ve delegated your tasks to someone else. This is when Waiting For items come into play. LifeTopix handles these items by allowing you to add owner(s) to a task as shown in the following screenshot.

TaskOwner-LifeTopix

You can view all tasks for each person through the People + Services topic. It’s a good idea to create a LifeTopix Group for contacts to which you frequently assign tasks for easy access.

Context Tags

When using the GTD method, it’s necessary to consider the context of your captured items. The context defines how and where the item will be completed. How defines the tools, such as @laptop and where defines the location, such as @home.

In LifeTopix, contexts are completely configurable to meet your needs and items can include zero or more contexts. You can configure tags in the My Contexts view, which is shown in the screenshot below. You can also access all the items defined with these contexts directly from this view.

GTD Contexts LifeTopix

Reference Materials

Reference materials are items that aren’t actionable that include data and files, which may or may not support your projects. LifeTopix allows you to associate several types of objects with projects — allowing quick and easy retrieval.

With LifeTopix, you can associate Checklists, Bookmarks, Local and Online Documents, Audio, Photos, Video, Notes, Expenses, Services, and Shopping items with Projects, as shown in the following screenshot. This eliminates the need to file these items into physical paper folders and files using large filing cabinets.

Reference_Materials_LifeTopix

And with LifeTopix, you can back up your data to Dropbox™ or other services, allowing you to feel secure about your data. In addition, LifeTopix supports Google Drive, Dropbox™, SkyDrive™, and Evernote™ — allowing you to access files or notes from these services in context with your projects.

Review and Do Phases

A future post will discuss the Review and Do Phases in depth, but keep in mind that when you choose actionable items to complete when you review your action lists daily, you can simply set the Due Date to the current day — with or without a specific time. If you choose not to include a time, keep in mind that your calendar will consider a task without a date as an all-day event, which results in a blocked out day to others viewing your shared calendar.

When you’ve added a due date, the Agenda view will show all the tasks in a list view that are due on the current day. The following screenshot shows the resulting Agenda view after tasks have been given due dates.

Agenda-LifeTopix

Take note that the items that you view on the Agenda view are completely configurable by you. you can choose to show or hide Device Reminders, Appointments, Bill Payments, Events, Expenses, Notes with Date Tags, Occasion Reminders, Projects, Quick Inbox Items, Checklists, Reminders, Shopping Items, Shopping Lists, Tasks, Trips, Visits, Health Stats, Medication, Nutrition, Activity, and Wellness.

More Information

GTD is a great system for managing your busy home and work life. If you’d like to know more about best practices using LifeTopix for GTD, refer to the following posts:

Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Prioritizing Tasks in LifeTopix
Best Practices for Getting Things Done with LifeTopix Categories and Contexts
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Capture and Collect
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Processing
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Doing Phase
Best Practices for Getting Things Done — Weekly Review

Your Turn

We enjoy hearing from you. Please share your best practices for using LifeTopix.

GTD® and Getting Things Done® are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. LightArrow Apps are not affiliated with or endorsed by the David Allen Company.

Your Family Calendar, All in One Place

Organizing your calendar and schedule is a big challenge when you have a lot going on — and most of us do. And if you’re a mom who’s organizing the whole family, it’s even more challenging. Learn how LifeTopix and our starter app, My.Agenda, come to the rescue.

Transcript

Organizing your calendar and schedule is a big challenge when you have a lot going on — and most of us do.

And if you’re a mom who’s organizing the whole family, it’s even more challenging.

Between Zumba, baseball games, meetings, carpools, and clubs, you feel like your drowning and it’s practically impossible to keep it all straight.

This is when LifeTopix and our starter app, My.Agenda, come to the rescue.

LifeTopix is a central hub for your tasks, projects, shopping, events, travel, and more. My.Agenda is a starter, more economical version of LifeTopix that enables you to start small and expand as your organizational needs grow.

As the central hub of your life, LifeTopix works with all your calendars, including Outlook, Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, your device Calendar, and others. You just need to configure these items in your device’s Mail, Contacts, and Calendars Settings.

So Why LifeTopix?

You might be wondering why you would use LifeTopix instead of your standard device calendar or a free online calendar.

There’s lots of ways to justify it – with 12 big reasons. The 12 Life Topics, which are intelligently designed topics that manage more than just calendar events.

These topics are connected and in one place, which eliminates the app hopping that you do when you install a flock of apps to do many different, disconnected things.

For example, when your contacts and service providers are linked to your calendar events and other items, you can easily contact them if you’re running late in just a few simple taps. You never have to open your device’s contacts or search for an email address again.

And don’t worry about getting lost with LifeTopix’s location services, you can always view your destination on the map.

LifeTopix keeps the whole family on the same page because it uses cloud services such as Dropbox, SkyDrive, and Google Drive for device-to-device sync. Because of this, LifeTopix or My.Agenda becomes the perfect place to share your kids’ doctors appointments, playdates, sports, and other events with the whole family.

And LifeTopix gives you other options for sharing. You can share items via email, text, or social media with friends or family members.

Before you get started with Cloud Sync, all you need to do is go to www.dropbox.com and set up a free account for the family to share.

Once you’ve set it up, everyone in the family can point LifeTopix to the Dropbox folder using LifeTopix Settings.

Next, Voila, everyone can start using Dropbox sync.

You’ll find another video on our website or youTube channel that describes these steps in detail.

Now everyone can be on the same page about what’s going on from appointments, to checklists, to bill payments and more — we’ve got you covered.

Now that everyone’s sharing the same calendar, you can easily add all types of items to your family’s agenda without a lot of nagging.

And your weekly review is a piece of cake with this handy agenda view.

We know you have a lot going on, keep track of it and keep everyone in the loop while on the go with LifeTopix.

If you want to learn more go to www.lightarrow.com or find LifeTopix or MyAgenda at the Apple App Store in the Productivity section. Thanks for Watching.

More info at the Apple App Store:

LifeTopix

My.Agenda

Earth Day – Eight Things You Can Do Today to Save the Planet

Earth Day 2013

Each year, Earth Day is celebrated to educate Americans about ecology and what they can do to reduce their environmental impact. Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day in 1970 and it’s still celebrated today to honor our planet. In this post, we’d like to do our part to educate you about a few simple things that you can do today that will protect and honor planet earth without drastically changing your lifestyle.

1. Set Auto Shutdown on Your Laptops

According to Casey Roe, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator, Duke Sustainability Office [source], it takes 60 to 300 trees to absorb the annual impact of a computer that’s left on 24 hours a day, and only 60 percent of US adults turn their computer off during the night. A simple change that you can make today is shutting down your laptops and devices at night.

To make it super simple, in many cases you can set up your computers to shut down or use other energy-saving options (such as sleep or hibernate) automatically. Macs have options that enable you to automatically shut them down during times that you’re not using them.

Earth Day 2013

You can use the Energy Saver preferences in the System Preferences application. Just click the Schedule button, and you can set up the schedule that works for you.

2. Eliminate Junk Mail

According to 41Pounds.org, “more than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail. 42% of timber harvested nationwide becomes pulpwood for paper.” Furthermore, they state, “The world’s temperate forests absorb 2 billion tons of carbon annually. Creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars.”

So what can you do about it? There are services that allow you to stop the influx of junk mail that you receive at your home. And if you’re a marketer, consider more green (digital) options. I recently started using Catalog Choice. Catalog Choice unlists you from marketing lists for catalogs and allows you to search for and choose the catalogs that you no longer wish to receive. What’s neat about the site is you can also view the environmental benefits of your contribution and the contribution of others as a whole.

3. Buy Used or Borrow Things That You Only Use Once in a While

Many of us rush out to buy something new any time we need it. In fact, according to the The Daily Green, “studies have shown that the average power tool is used for only about half an hour it its lifetime.” If statistics are correct, you probably have some lonely and dusty power tools in your garage. Instead of rushing out to the nearest home improvement store, consider purchasing used items and borrowing tools and other items. 

Nowadays, there are many choices for borrowing items such as tools, and when you no longer need an item you can consider donating it. In the United States, a “Tool Library” movement has begun and continues to gain momentum, which allows you to borrow several type of home and garden tools. Just perform a local Google Search and you’ll find many options for lending and borrowing.

4. Use Cloud Services

Using Cloud Services is a popular trend, but it also can help you to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. According to Go Green, “large companies adopting the cloud can reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by 30 percent. The better news is, small businesses even save more energy than the larger counterparts – up to 90 percent.”

We often talk about cloud services and how you can use them to store your documents, photos, and other media to help you achieve your paperless goals (as opposed to printing these items and placing them in file folders). We also commonly talk about how our app, LifeTopix, allows you to access these documents in context with all the things you’re doing and planning in your life. Examples of cloud services that are popular and can be used for free include Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive, Evernote, and Google Drive.

You can refer to their websites to sign up and learn more about these services.

5. Reduce Travel

Whether you’re traveling across town or traveling across the earth, consider video conferencing as an option to reduce your carbon footprint. An article published by Yale University by Elisabeth Rosenthal [source] states that, “According to various estimates, emissions from aviation currently represent 2 to 3 percent of CO2 emissions and are likely to double or triple by 2050.”

To reduce the number of trips that you take, consider video conferencing options. Lower cost and free options that are available include Skype, Google Hangouts, iChat on Apple Computers, or Adobe Connect Pro among many others. Refer to their websites for more information.

6. Cancel Paper Newspaper Subscriptions

Are you still receiving the daily newspaper? Have you ever wondered about the environment impact of that daily newspaper? According to the Daily Green, “The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries, and contributes 9% of the manufacturing sector’s carbon emissions” and “Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste (and one third of municipal landfill waste).”

Understanding this, I investigated a local newspaper and found that there are several options for online, iPad, and various tablet subscriptions. I also found that the tablet choice was more economical than choosing the paper option with full online access. Consequently, there’s no need to give up the subscription altogether.

7. Use Reminders, Notes, Lists, and Calendar Applications

iOS reminders, calendar apps, shopping/to-do list and note apps, and personal organization apps such as LifeTopix are excellent for helping you incorporate green habits into your life, such as reducing the amount of paper that you use. For example, you can use a variety of apps or use LifeTopix to:

  • Set a reminder to carry your reusable shopping bags to the grocery store or farmer’s market.
  • Schedule times that local farmers sell at the markets.
  • Schedule recycling day.
  • Create digital shopping lists and ditch the paper lists.
  • Stop using paper notes and create digital to-do lists and notes.
  • Set reminders to turn off the lights in your house.

8. Better Plan Your Errands and Carpool

Near_MeOne great way to reduce emissions is to cut back on the amount of time you spend in your car commuting and running errands. According to the EPA, “Leaving your car at home just two days a week can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by an average of two tons per year.”

Your built-in map app on your iOS device or Google maps can help you plan the most efficient route when running errands. And, if you use an app such as LifeTopix, you can use the handy Near Me feature to view shopping and other items on your map to ensure you’re taking advantage of the best route.

There are several websites and apps that can help you find ways to carpool. Social media is also a great way to arrange rides with friends.

Please comment and let us know your tips for reducing your carbon footprint. We love to hear from our readers. 

What is Microsoft SkyDrive and How Can You Take Advantage of it?

As you know, today’s user is flooded with information that’s important to them and many use different cloud services to store their data. Of course, when they’ve stored several documents in the cloud it’s often difficult to remember how to find a document when they need it. This is where LifeTopix comes in — allowing users to locate their documents in context of their projects, parties and other events, trips, and more — bringing everything together into one pocket-sized organization miracle.

cloud

We often talk about the popular cloud services that our customers use to manage their documents, photos, and other media. And our users clearly recognize the value of storing and managing their documents in the cloud. Because there are so many excellent cloud services, we’ve chosen to integrate with the best of the best — Google Drive/Docs, Evernote, and Dropbox. We continue to support more and more of these services for device-to-device sync, file access, and backup and restore. And now, we’re very excited to announce our latest addition — Microsoft SkyDrive.

This post is intended to give you a brief introduction of SkyDrive, and how we support it in LifeTopix.

What is SkyDrive?

Similar to Google Drive/Docs and Dropbox, SkyDrive enables users to store their files in the cloud and access them from their mobile devices or personal computers. And like Google Drive/Docs, users can share word processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations for the purposes of concurrent collaboration. Editing and collaborating is available through the free online version of Microsoft Office products — including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. SkyDrive also includes the ability to create and share OneNote notebooks and Excel surveys, as well as to modify files created with the desktop version of MS Office.

SkyDrive is a free download with 7GB of free storage for starters and upgrade options are available. The mobile app for file access is free and available for Windows Phone, Android, iPhone, and iPad. To get started with SkyDrive, go to http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/skydrive/download and follow the directions.

How Does LifeTopix and SkyDrive Work Together?

In the following sections, detailed information is included that introduces you to the SkyDrive integration. The integration allows:

  • Managing your SkyDrive files in context with your life
  • Syncing LifeTopix data across your multiple devices
  • Backing up and restoring LifeTopix data

Managing Your SkyDrive Files in Context With Your Life

SkyDrive makes it easy to store and share Microsoft Office files created from the desktop app or from the web interface. We have chosen not to replicate this functionality, but rather to allow our users to attach, view, download, and upload files from SkyDrive to LifeTopix. For example, you might choose to attach spreadsheets, OneNote notes, and other documents to a “Paperless Office” project within LifeTopix. The following screenshot shows how LifeTopix can be used to attach files to a project.

SkyDrive File Attachment

After adding your SkyDrive folder to LifeTopix via Notes + Files, the files become available for viewing in context of the project.

Syncing LifeTopix Data Across Your Multiple Devices

We’re very excited that we’ve added device-to-device sync via SkyDrive to our list of cloud services that we support. Still, the most reliable choice for device-to-device sync for LifeTopix is through Dropbox. If it’s imperative that your multiple devices are in sync at all times, we suggest that you use Dropbox. However, we’re continuing to refine the implementation of our device-to-device sync through iCloud, Google Drive, and SkyDrive and expect all services to be equally reliable.

If you would like to set up device-to-device sync through SkyDrive, the process is the same as Dropbox and you can watch the following video to learn how to set it up.

Make sure that you choose Microsoft SkyDrive as the service that you wish to use for syncing, and one caveat I suggest is that you set up a folder in SkyDrive for your sync files prior to configuring your device-to-device sync. In the following example, I’ve set up a folder in SkyDrive and named it LifeTopix, then I referred to it in the My Settings view of the LifeTopix app.

LifeTopix SkyDrive

Backing Up and Restoring LifeTopix Data

We recommend that you back up your LifeTopix data on a regular basis to ensure your data is not lost in case of a technical issue or if a device problem occurs. With the addition of SkyDrive integration, it is now possible to back up your data to SkyDrive. Simply set up your Online Folder as shown in the screenshot above. LifeTopix uses the same folder you designate for device-to-device sync for backups and restoring your data.

We hope that you’re as excited as us to have more choices for device-to-device sync, file access, and online backup and restore. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments. We welcome your feedback.

LifeTopix 6.0 Guided Tour

Team LightArrow is very excited about our new 6.0 update of LifeTopix, which includes several new features, usability improvements, and defect fixes. LifeTopix 6.0 is available from the Apple App Store as a free update for anyone with previous LifeTopix versions. If you’re new to LifeTopix, it’s available for a limited time at a special price of 99 cents. As a universal app, a single purchase entitles you to use it on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

New Sync Options

We’re happy to introduce Dropbox sync to keep your data in sync across your multiple iOS devices. We’ve also introduced a technology preview of Google Drive sync/backup and restore. You’re welcome to preview it, but we recommend that you utilize Dropbox sync at this time. We’ve made several improvements to iCloud Sync, and we’re working with Apple to resolve issues that affect reliability. However, we’re continuing to consider iCloud Sync a “Technology Preview.” When you update to LifeTopix 6.0, iCloud sync will be disabled. We highly recommend that you switch to Dropbox sync after updating your devices.

To access sync options, tap Settings and then tap Cloud Sync to access the new view shown in the following screenshot. Tap Manage to get started with your device sync setup.

LifeTopix cloud sync

Freehand Drawing & Note Taking

In the 6.0 update, we’ve given freehand drawing and written note taking a complete makeover. Writing and drawing is now easier and provides a richer experience. We’ve added pinch zoom and expand; undo and redo; and the ability to email your drawings directly from the drawing view. Drawing/writing includes an eraser; 40 color choices; alpha capabilities; six shapes including circles and squares; and line width adjustment.

You can create freehand drawing and take notes by choosing Notes + Files from the My Topics view. The screenshot below shows an example of the drawing view with the variety of shapes that you can create.

LifeTopix Freehand Drawing

New Colors in My Topics View

When you open the the My Topics view, you’ll see that we’ve given it a new look. The changes were made to give you easier identification of the 12 topics through varying colors, as shown in the following screenshot.

LifeTopix My Topics View

Configurable Dashboard Navigation

You can now reorder the navigational items in the Dashboard on the left side. Simply tap the i icon, which is identified in the following screenshot, and then drag the items to the position you prefer.

LifeTopix Configure Dashboard

New Themes

You now have the ability to change the main and accent colors that LifeTopix displays throughout the app. Choices include Azure, Beige, Black, Charcoal, Classic Blue, Classic Green, Dark Blue, Dark Red, Deep Ocean, Forest Green, Gold, Hot Orange, Lime Green, Magenta, Mocha, Plum, Scarlet, Slate, and Violet. Themes are not synced across devices, which allows you to create a unique theme for each of your devices.

You can change colors in the My Settings view as shown in the screenshot below.

LifeTopix Themes

New Engage View

As collaboration and support are among our highest priorities, we’ve made it easier for you to locate information about LifeTopix, contact us, and share LifeTopix with your friends, family, and colleagues through the Engage view. We welcome your questions and comments via social media, our website, or directly through email.

By tapping the Smile in the navigation panel of LifeTopix, you can view the central location for sharing via social media, contacting LightArrow, and finding information, as shown in the following screenshot.

Engage View

Support of All Day or Date and Time in Appointments

You now have the ability to view all-day appointments, tasks, projects, trips, and visits at the top of each day, above the list of times. This allows you to easily view other appointments that might be scheduled during the day. The following screenshot shows how all-day items display.

All Day

Person Detail Tap Through To Associated Items

In your Person view, you will now be able to see associated items with a person, and tap the associated items to view the details. For example, in the screenshot below, you’ll see that you can tap [Personal Trainer]: Johnny to view this service provider’s details and any associated appointments, tasks, checklists, reminders, bookmarks, files, audio, photos, video, notes, or services.

Person Tap

Repeat Schedule Improvements

We’ve improved recurring appointments, bills, and tasks. Previously, the maximum number of these items was 72. This number is increased to 150, and performance is improved when this large number of items is created. However, if you’re using an older device, a large number of items may take a few seconds. The following screenshot shows the options for the maximum number of appointments in the My Settings view.

LifeTopix

Photo, Video, and Drawing Thumbnails

In list views, such as the Recently Updated view, thumbnails for photos, videos, and drawings are displayed in place of an icon, as shown in the following screenshot.

LifeTopix Thumbnail

Improved Agenda View

The Agenda view now includes a streamlined Alerts section with overdue and undated items. In addition, you’re now able to open these items directly from this view.

LifeTopix Agenda Alerts

People + Services Usability Enhancement

Groups are now available directly from the People + Services view, which provides easier access to Groups, as shown in the following example.

LifeTopix Groups

Autoscrolling to First Item in Day in Month Views

In My Calendar, when viewing the Day and Month views, LifeTopix will automatically scroll to the first item, which makes it easier for you to view your schedule. For example, when viewing the Day view, if you have a 9:00 am appointment and a 10:00 pm appointment, LifeTopix will automatically scroll so the 9:00 am appointment will be the first item that you see.

Calendar View Performance Enhancements

In this update, you will notice general speed improvements in the My Calendar and Agenda views.

We hope this helps you under­stand how to lever­age the new fea­tures in 6.0. Enjoy!

13 Ways LifeTopix Can Improve Your Life in 2013

What are your goals for 2013? Everyone wants to live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life — but how do you get there? We’ve compiled a list of 13 ways that the LifeTopix calendar, productivity, and organization app can help you do more. The result? Get more done, reduce stress, and spend more time doing the things you really want to do.

1. Improve your nutrition

After the holidays, many of us are mortified when we step on the scale. Perhaps you can relate and you’re wanting to make better food choices and to maintain a healthy weight in 2013. LifeTopix can help you track your food consumption. For example, you can record and view the calories, protein, solid fats, alcohol, desserts, or almost any other item that you’re consuming each day in a graphical format. As an example, in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic, you can use the LifeTopix Nutrition Log Forms to view the maximum number of calories that you’ve set to make sure you’re not exceeding this number. Or, if your goal is to eat more vegetables or protein, you can set this too!

2. Get your health under control

Ignoring health issues can have serious consequences. LifeTopix includes many features for tracking your health stats. Are you dealing with hypertension and your doctor has asked you to log your blood pressure? Are you anemic and you need to track your blood count? Do you have sleep problems and you want to track your sleep quality? LifeTopix can handle these items and many more via the LifeTopix Medication Log and Wellness Log in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic.

3. Take vitamins and medications consistently

Do you have good intentions about taking your vitamins and prescription medications, but frequently forget to take them or cannot remember if you’ve taken them? With some medications, it’s imperative that you’re taking them each day, and sometimes even at the same time each day. With the LifeTopix Medication Log form in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic, you can record your intake of vitamins and medications each day — and the log automatically includes the current date and time when you add a medication entry.

4. Reach your fitness goals

Are you wanting to start a fitness routine, maintain your current fitness level, or bump your fitness up to a new level in 2013? Perhaps you’re training for a triathlon or planning your first marathon. Or, maybe you want to make sure you take a 30 minute walk with your dog each morning. Whatever your fitness level, LifeTopix provides the flexibility for planning and tracking your fitness. You can use the LifeTopix Activity Log Forms in the LifeTopix Health + Activity topic to set and view any type of exercise you wish — and just like nutrition, you can see if you’re reaching those goals via a graphical format.

5. Make shopping trips more efficient

Do you spend hours planning your family meals and shopping at the grocery store? Do you want to spend less time shopping and more time with your family or friends, catching a game, or spending time on your hobbies? If this is one of your goals for 2013, LifeTopix can help. Many of us are creatures of habit so LifeTopix helps you organize the stores you go to frequently and the items you buy most often. You can add the items that you purchase — along with the seller, unit price, unit, quantity, and total price to your master list of products. Then, simply select these items, add them to your lists, and check them off as you buy them. It’s as simple as that.

6. Save money and stick to your budget

After the holidays, you might want to put a little jingle back in your pocket. And with the downturn in the economy, sticking to a budget in 2013 might also be one of your highest priorities. The LifeTopix Finances topic was created for just this reason. Not only can you track all your financial accounts, credit card and debit cards, and investment accounts  — it lets you record the recur­ring bill pay­ments for all the ser­vices you use and the one-time pay­ments you make. You can view all of these pay­ments on your Expenses Calendar. And you can track the things that you sell, such as through a garage sale or ebay. And, as an added bonus, you can track your online coupons in the Shopping topic to help you save a little extra money.

7. Get smart

Whether you’re a student or a professional who’s focusing on their personal growth or professional skills, LifeTopix can help you organize and track the things that you need to further your education. If you’re a student, the Education topic enables you to take notes about education, set up projects and assignments, and add the subjects that you take. As a student, you can create a class schedule and associate a location with each of your classes. Or perhaps you’re a professional who’s obtaining a HIPAA certification, taking graphic design classes to improve your design skills, or becoming a fitness instructor — with LifeTopix, you can utilize personal growth categories to help you track your certifications and training in the LifeTopix Education topic.

8. Be creative

Are you planning to start a new business, write a novel or screenplay, or compose music in 2013? Have you ever had a creative thought related to your job or hobbies, but didn’t catch that idea immediately and then forgot it later? We just can’t predict when a great idea is going to pop into our heads so being prepared through journaling is wise. Mobile devices are amazing for capturing those ideas because we carry them almost everywhere we go. The LifeTopix Notes + Files topic is perfect for this use. You can take notes everywhere you go and if you prefer to use Evernote for note taking, LifeTopix conveniently works with it too.

9. Build relationships

In 2013, one of your goals might be to build business or personal relationships. To build relationships, it’s helpful to record your interactions with friends, family, or colleagues. For example, perhaps you’ve included all your friends’ and family members’ birthdays and you want to ensure you wish them a happy birthday and send them gifts. Through LifeTopix, you can set a reminder, plan the gift you wish to purchase, and automatically add it to a shopping list. Any time you associate a person with an item in LifeTopix, those people are filed under the People + Services topic. The possibilities are endless. You will be the star of your next family reunion. And, LifeTopix works with your iOS contacts so double entry is not necessary.

10. Make more time for yourself

For your well being, it’s a great idea to schedule time for yourself. If you’re the type of person who takes on too much responsibility and needs to share more of it, then LifeTopix is for you. Through the LifeTopix “Discuss” features, you can share your projects, checklists, events, shopping lists, trips, visits, notes, and more. For example, you can create a shopping list and then share it with your spouse. Or you can create a “honey-do” list with chores for your husband. Your spouse can view it via email and then add it to LifeTopix in just one tap.

11. Go paperless and reduce clutter

Is your home office a cluttered mess? Do you want to reduce your consumption and accumulation of paper to reduce your impact on the environment? Do you want to lighten your load when meeting clients or going to the office? If so, LifeTopix is for you. LifeTopix works with popular cloud-based file storage systems such as Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive so you can store all your items digitally — and then associate those documents in the context of your life items within LifeTopix.

12. Get things done

Do you have DIY projects that you want to complete such as organizing your closet, remodeling your kitchen, or landscaping the backyard? Or perhaps you’re planning to build a new website? With LifeTopix, you can plan your projects and tasks with ease. The LifeTopix Tasks + Projects topic gives you the abil­ity to enter, orga­nize, pri­or­i­tize, track, and check off your projects’ tasks.

13. Take a vacation

Now that you’ve saved money, got more done, built up your client base, got your health under control, finished your projects, and lost a few pounds — it’s time to take a vacation. Luckily, with the Life­Topix Travel + Places topic, you can plan your vacation from end-to-end. You can track the dates, set reminders, make packing checklists, set bookmarks to travel websites, and make note of places you want to visit such as restaurants, golf courses, or tourist attractions.

We hope this gives you some ideas of how you can use LifeTopix to improve your life in 2013. Please share and comment! Happy New Year!

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Guide to Going Paperless for Educators

Teachers and other educators are constantly required to work with an enormous amount of paper, files, notes, and digital media. They’re also tasked with managing an abundance of data for their students. Organizing this information can become more and more challenging and unwieldy. A solution for this problem is going paperless. This solution reduces the cost of paper production, reduces the negative impact of paper use to the environment, and it also increases the efficiency of educators.

When talking to teachers, it’s interesting to understand how they organize their data. It ranges from paper filing systems to full-blown digital solutions. But nearly all educators agree that they’re looking for the best solution to help them get organized and stay that way. This post is intended to give teachers, tutors, homeschool parents, and other educators tips and tricks for getting their information organized and easily accessible.

Cloud_ComputingTeachers and other educators typically look for solutions to manage the following types of items:

  • Assignments, textbooks (ebooks), and lesson plans
  • Student profiles or portfolios
  • Progress reports and notes
  • Meeting notes from conferences and staff meetings
  • Attendance
  • State-required documents, particularly for homeschooling

Tools that educators can use to get this information in a digital format and organized into a central location include Dropbox, Google Drive/Docs, Evernote, and LifeTopix. Keep reading to learn how to leverage the power of these tools.

Storing Assignments, Textbooks, Lesson Plans, and Other Files

Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Drive/Docs are all great tools for storing and accessing documents in many types of formats. All of these tools can store documents, photos, and other files “in the cloud” and allow access from a personal computer or mobile device. When data is stored in the cloud, it means that it’s managed and backed up remotely and made available over the Internet, instead of locally on a computer. The advantage of storing files in the cloud is there’s no worries about hard drive crashes, computer theft, or migrating data to new computers. However, these tools are not exactly the same, and this post will help you understand what makes each one appropriate for different types of uses.

Dropbox

Dropbox is really handy software for storing and retrieving large files such as textbooks. Files can be private or shared with invited users. Dropbox is free up to a designated amount of storage, and provides software for personal computers and mobile devices. The file structure works seamlessly with OS X and Windows operating systems as shown in the following screenshot.

Dropbox

The Dropbox app is available on the iPhone or iPad, which allows complete mobility, such as moving around the classroom while accessing students’ files. There’s also the capability to connect an iPad to a television or projector to share any files with a class or student.

Take note that Dropbox allows file sharing; however, it does not allow simultaneous file editing with others (Google Docs/Drive offers this functionality). With Dropbox, the servers first sync the file to their web servers, and then they’re synced to all computers that are connected via shared folders.

Evernote

Evernote is considered best-in-class for note taking, but it provides more than just creation of online notes, which makes it suitable for a variety of scenarios. Think of Evernote as a digital filing system. Educators and students are always creating content — whether it’s tests, report cards, typed notes, audio files, images, or projects. Educators need a way to organize this information and to easily share it. Evernote allows note creation, and it also supports almost any type of file imaginable. It also includes advanced searching and tagging so it’s easy to quickly find files and notes.

Evernote provides great information about how it can be used for schools at Evernote for Schools. It works with a variety of computers and mobile devices — there’s a free web application, desktop client, and mobile app so educators can use it anywhere. The basic service is free, and there’s options to upgrade to the Evernote Premium For Schools version.

One typical scenario for the classroom would be to create an Evernote login for each student so each student would have access to their homework and projects. All their projects and homework would be included within these folders. An Evernote-compliant scanner for the classroom allows the students to store everything digitally. Imagine how this scenario would simplify parent/teacher conferences. For example, all the students’ work could be included within the student’s profile — and shared in real time with the students and their parents via computers or mobile devices.

Google Docs/Drive

Like Dropbox and Evernote, Google Drive includes free storage in the cloud. What’s different about Google Drive is it becomes the central place for managing Google Docs. Google Docs is free web-based software for creating and updating spreadsheets, documents, presentations, and more. And with Google Docs, more than one student can edit files simultaneously, which makes collaborating on projects easy. The basic service is free, and there’s an upgrade to Google Apps for Education.

Google Docs/Drive is an excellent tool for both educators and students. Educators can keep track of attendance via spreadsheets; create seating charts via presentation or drawing tools; build presentations for students, parents, and faculty; or create homework assignments that can be accessed at home or in class —  the possibilities are endless. Students can collaborate easily on projects and always have access to their assignment lists and homework — which increases visibility for parents. And as iPads and other mobile devices become mainstream in the classroom, it’s important to note that Google Drive is available through the Apple App Store for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

Bringing It All Together with LifeTopix

An increasing number of schools have started pilot programs using the iPad, and they’re seeing great potential. As iPads and other tablets become more popular in schools, apps that bring all this information together will be of utmost importance.  There’s no need to wait — educators have options now for organizing all this information into one place via their mobile devices. Imagine showing up for school without a backpack, laptop bag, heavy books, and piles of papers. With the right tools, educators and students can lighten their load significantly.

From what we’ve seen over the last few years, educators are using a variety of tools for per­sonal and col­lab­o­ra­tive notes, doc­u­ments, and files. We’ve embraced the con­cept of get­ting more value from notes, files, and doc­u­ments by allow­ing these items to be used in context within LifeTopix. Hence, LifeTopix was developed to be compatible with Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Drive/Docs. It’s an extremely flexible app via its 12 connected topics, which allows educators to manage all parts of their lives — their own way.

I’ll show you a few scenarios of how educators would use LifeTopix to organize their education-related data for the classroom. The following screenshots show how to create a LifeTopix project (which organizes the classroom data), and then create student profiles associated with each class through LifeTopix.

In the LifeTopix Tasks + Projects topic, projects contain all of the data associated with a class as shown in the following screenshot. There’s the ability to include a description of the class, start and end dates, tasks, checklists, appointments, reminders, bookmarks, files, audio, photos, videos, notes, expenses, services, and shopping items.

Education Project

In the LifeTopix Notes + Files topic, there’s the capability to create an entry for each student as shown below. These notes are associated with the Project above.

Students in LifeTopix

Once an entry for each student is created, the associated tasks, checklists, appointments, reminders, bookmarks, and files (both local and online from Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive/Docs) can be added. This data can be kept private or shared within one tap via email with parents and students. The following screenshot shows an example of a student profile.

LifeTopix Student Profile

Imagine the types of items that can be associated with the students’ profile. It’s possible to set up conferences and view them on a calendar; attach a photo of the student; access online homework folders; update attendance spreadsheets in Google Docs; set reminders specific to students; and anything else that’s important for students.

And for students, it’s important to note that the LifeTopix Education topic allows students to track assign­ments and related doc­u­ments and resources for school, work, or per­sonal growth sub­ject areas. And it’s inte­grated with other top­ics from LifeTopix so students can, for exam­ple, directly access local and online learn­ing resources that are defined in Life­Topix Info + Docs right from within the Life­Topix Edu­ca­tion topic. To learn more about LifeTopix for students, refer to 7 Tips to Get Organized for Back to School.

We hope this helps you learn how hardware and software can help you make the move to a paperless classroom. Please comment with any questions or ideas of how you’ve gone paperless.

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A Super App that Shines on the Dock

When we set out to build LifeTopix, we were not trying to build yet another task app. Or list app. Or notes app. Or shopping app. There are lots of those. Some of them are very, very good. A huge number of people find those apps sufficient for their needs, and many are in fact delighted with them.

But at LightArrow, we look at organization and productivity differently. Most users store their personal information through a heterogeneous set of software tools. For example, they might use: Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive and Docs, etc. to manage their life information. They collaborate in multiple ways — Email, Facebook, Twitter, Messaging, etc. They track things they need to do in different ways. For example, they use Google Calendar, Toodledo, Google Tasks, other online calendars, and other tools. Moreover, they have a lot of data, files, media, apps, etc. on their iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.

Working directly with our users to understand how they get things done, we’ve built LifeTopix to be the “superapp” — or “one app to rule them all.” This allows our users to use the software they love — and we went miles further by putting everything in context for them. This gives them an organizational paradigm that goes across several relevant topics in their lives — beyond anything any other app even attempts to do.

LifeTopix Shines on the Dock

We believe our “super app” shines on the dock of the device. In fact, most of our users see it as a gateway to organization, on the device and in the cloud. An app that removes the need to be constantly hopping between other apps does rightfully belong on the dock — used multiple times every day, just like the email app or the phone app itself.

Users want to accomplish much more with the apps they invest their time into. We have raised the bar, and our users agree. See our Testimonials to learn more.