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.

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

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!

Download LifeTopix:

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.

Simple Ingredients for Productivity Success – LifeTopix, Evernote, Google Drive, and Dropbox

Getting organized and productive might seem like a complicated endeavor, but with just a few simple ingredients you can achieve your goal of living a clutter-free, organized, and productive life. Just like making bread, you only need the basic ingredients to achieve the harmonious life that you aspire to live.

Start with the Staples

Just like when baking bread, you start with a recipe to obtain the staples or basics — flour, yeast, water, salt, etc. When searching for the ingredients to help you achieve productivity, you might perform a Google search for apps, software, or services to help you get organized. Generally, you’ll find a variety of articles describing the top notes ser­vice (Ever­note), top file stor­age ser­vice (Drop­box), and top col­lab­o­ra­tive doc­u­ment ser­vice (Google Drive). These are the fundamental ingredients to get you started. For example, if you think of productivity as a loaf of bread, you’ll consider these apps as the basic ingredients of your recipe. And just like a loaf of bread, you’ll need something to hold them together or you’ll have a big mound of dough — that just falls apart — a half-baked solution. This is where LifeTopix comes in — the baking pan that holds it all together.

How LifeTopix Pulls it Together

We constantly talk to our users about how they use these top services (Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Drive). This influ­enced us to sup­port these ser­vices from within Life­Topix, and also helped us to under­stand how users track rel­e­vant pieces of infor­ma­tion in their proper con­text regard­less of its source. For example, with LifeTopix you might create a landscaping project to keep track of the items related to this project. You’ll want to store related files within the context of the landscaping project. For example, you might want to track any receipts or invoices for plants, soil, and other landscaping materials — and you’ll want to be able to quickly access these related items. Because LifeTopix is integrated with these services, you can find these items — all from one app (LifeTopix). Never again will you be searching for these files through disconnected software. Take a look at the following diagram to visualize how a project would appear in LifeTopix, and how you can easily add and find related online notes and files.

Evernote, LifeTopix, Dropbox, Google Drive

LifeTopix provides many capabilities for managing a project, such as landscaping — and our integration with top online software enhances your ability to store, locate, and collaborate via this software. The examples below describe how you might use LifeTopix to plan and execute a landscaping project:

  • Create a task (todo) list — plant seeds and foliage, attach wires to support stakes, decorate with stones, etc..
  • Schedule appointments — call the Utility Locator to mark the lawn.
  • Set reminders — watering schedule, inspect work, etc.
  • Create bookmarks — plant care websites, watering schedules, landscaping blogs, etc.
  • Record audio notes and text notes — capture anything through voice or text.
  • Upload photos — take photos of plants, decorations, invoices, receipts, or contracts.
  • Gather expenses — record each expense for goods and services related to the project.
  • Manage service providers — include all providers related to the project for easy access, shopping lists, and expense tracking.
  • Manage shopping items — create shopping lists for products, goods, and services.
  • Access all files and notes stored in Dropbox, Evernote, or Google Drive — collaborative word processing docs or spreadsheets, notes, invoices, etc.
  • Share and collaborate via Facebook, Text, Email, and Twitter — share ideas with friends, family, and colleagues.

We hope this sparks some ideas of how you would use LifeTopix with Evernote, Google Drive, and Dropbox to achieve the harmonious, organized, clutter-free life that you aspire to live. Please share how you use LifeTopix to manage your projects and how our integration has helped you achieve your goals.

EVERNOTE, the Evernote Elephant logo and REMEMBER EVERYTHING are trademarks of Evernote Corporation. All other company and product names and logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners in certain countries.

5 LifeTopix Tips to Help You Manage the Family Calendar

If your household is anything like mine — with my work schedule, spouse’s schedule, kid’s school and events calendar, social events, household chores, and pets — things can get a little crazy. I rely on my digital calendar to make sure I stay on top of everything. For me, a digital calendar is the way to go since we’re rarely at the same place at the same time. Having the ability to access our schedule, any place and at any time, keeps us on track. Because LifeTopix works with iOS calendars, it’s my main point of entry for the family’s shared calendar.

1. Add iOS Calendars Automatically

“Calendar” (formerly called iCal) is the calendar application by Apple that runs on Mac OS X. It offers support for multiple calendars, and includes the ability to publish and subscribe to calendars from Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) servers. In other words, the calendar that’s located on your Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch supports calendars that are published on the Internet. Users can collaborate on those calendars and your calendar can pick up the schedule, as well as the changes by the authors of the chosen Internet calendar. Because LifeTopix supports iOS calendars, you can view the schedules from published iOS calendars. Subscribing to or downloading published calendars on the Internet, such as holiday calendars, sports calendars, or school schedules allows you to view those scheduled items directly in LifeTopix — which saves you precious time by avoiding manual entries.

To subscribe to iOS Calendars

  • On your iPad or iPhone, go to http://icalshare.com/ or other sites that allow you to subscribe or download calendars (.ics files). I’ve chosen the following US Holidays calendar from iCalShare.

iCalShare

  • Locate the calendar you wish to use, and then tap Subscribe to Calendar (in blue above) or the button that allows subscribing.
  • “Calendar” adds the calendar and like magic, you’ll see the schedule in LifeTopix.

2. Share Calendars with Children

If you’re the family caretaker, most likely you manage the master family calendar. A great way to manage a shared family calendar is through Google calendar. By creating a free Google account for each family member, you have access to many tools such as shared calendars, email, file storage, and document creation on any platform, such as a web browser, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. LifeTopix supports Google Calendars via “Calendar.”

If you need help setting up your Google Calendars to work with your iOS devices, Google provides a concise set of instructions at Set up Google Sync with your iOS device. This description shows how to sync the calendars through the native applications on your device. You can also connect them through CalDAV as explained at CalDAV Calendar Sync.

If you’ve set up your Google Calendar(s) to share data with iOS calendars, then you can view that information in your LifeTopix My Calendar through our native integration with iOS calendars. Our native calendar integration even supports multiple calendars. We suggest that the main caretaker’s calendar is the main calendar, and that this calendar is shared with the family members. In a later release, we plan to extend our support for multiple calendars so that when you create a new date-oriented item, you can specify the specific calendar that item should be added to.

3. Make Meal Planning Easy

An important part of the family schedule is meal planning. LifeTopix is very flexible, so there’s many ways to set up meal plans. I’ll show you a quick and easy way to plan a week of meals.

To set up meal plans:

  • Create a Project called “Meal Plan” (Tasks + Projects > All Projects >). Start on the current day and choose an end date that works for you.
  • Create tasks for each day’s meal for the Meal Plan project. Add a task for each day’s meal (Meal Plan Project > Add Item > Task > New Task).
  • Create a shopping list for the Meal Plan (Meal Plan Project > Add Item > Shopping item > Product). You can select and add multiple shopping items all at once. Your meals will appear on your task calendar and (if you wish) on your main calendar (My Calendar).
  • You can also create bookmarks to recipes you’re using (Meal Plan Project > Add Item > Bookmark > Save the URL), which makes it super easy to find your favorite recipes.

4. Create “Honey Do Lists”

Face it, we all have them — those chores that we ask our spouse or partner to finish. If you’re not familiar with “Honey-Do Lists” or need advice on how to effectively use them, see what is a honey do list from wisegeek. If you’re accustomed to creating Honey Do lists (and your significant other is a willing participant), I’ll show you a simple method to create the lists, and to share them with your significant other.

To create Honey Do Lists:

  • Create a Project called “Honey Do Lists” (Tasks + Projects > All Projects >). Start on the current day and choose an end date that works for you. I prefer to keep the end date empty.
  • Create a checklist for the lucky recipient. Add an item for each thing to do (Honey Do List Project > Add Item > Checklist > Add). 

You can easily share the list with your spouse or partner via email or SMS. You can also share via Facebook or Twitter if you want the list to be public, but this method is usually not recommended for chore lists. Simply click the appropriate sharing icon in the right panel to share the list. Email is a great method to use. Your significant other can open the list directly from the email and view it in their LifeTopix app.

5. Managing Family Outings and Trips

Managing family outings; college trips; and out-of-town sports, band, or cheerleading events can be challenging for a busy family. LifeTopix includes native support for handling trips.

To create family trips:

  • Create a Trip and name it appropriately (Travel + Places > Trip Calendar >) and enter the start and ending dates for the trip. In the following example, it’s a college trip to Texas A&M.

After creating the trip, there’s a variety of options that you can provide, such as tasks, checklists, appointments, reminders, bookmarks, files, audio, photos, video, notes, expenses, and shopping items. What’s really handy is adding itineraries as files and bookmarks to websites that you might visit while you’re at the location. You can also take photos and view them later. You can add trip companions, and share this data via social media, text message, or email. Email is a great method to use to share the trip with your family members. They can open the shared trip directly from the email message and view it in LifeTopix.

How does your family stay organized with LifeTopix? Please comment and share your tips & tricks.

You can find LifeTopix at the App Store.