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GTD Basics – Methods for Reflecting and Weekly Reviews in LifeTopix

LifeTopix is an all-in-one productivity app for iPad and iPhone. We have many customers who follow David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD) method and use LifeTopix to stay organized and productive. Many of these customers ask about the most efficient ways to use LifeTopix for GTD® and our best practices.

GTD, LifeTopix, Reflecting and Weekly Reviews

David Allen rewrote the “Getting Things Done” book for 2015 and beyond, which was originally published in 2001. In addition, LifeTopix has evolved since we first published the popular post, “Best Practices for Getting Things Done – Weekly Review” in 2013. We strive to keep our customers up-to-date and hope you enjoy the new information we’re providing for you today.

We previously published three posts described below. We encourage you to read those posts before diving into this one:

Master Reflecting and Weekly Reviews

In Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done,” he dedicates a chapter to “Reflecting”. In this chapter, he stresses that you must review your system on a regular basis to ensure it is current and functional. He describes what to look at and when, and he communicates the power of the “Weekly Review.” The video below explains, in detail, how you would use LifeTopix to perform the actions he describes in this chapter of “Getting Things Done.”

Watch the Video

More to Come

In the next few weeks, we’ll be posting more videos and tips to assist you with utilizing LifeTopix for GTD. Please subscribe to the Life Blog to stay up-to-date.

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.

GTD Basics – Methods for Capturing Items in LifeTopix

LifeTopix is an all-in-one productivity app for iPad and iPhone. We have many customers who follow David Allen’s Getting Things Done® (GTD) method and use LifeTopix to stay organized and productive. Many of these customers ask about the best ways to use LifeTopix for GTD® and our best practices. Today, we’re sharing tips for using LifeTopix to quickly capture ideas, to dos and other items that are in your head.

David Allen rewrote the Getting Things Done book for 2015 and beyond, which was originally published in 2001. In addition, LifeTopix has evolved since we first published the popular post, Best Practices for Getting Things Done – Capture and Collect in 2013. We strive to keep our customers up-to-date and hope you enjoy the new information we’re providing for you today.

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.

In Allen’s latest book, he lays out five key phases of the GTD process:

  • Capturing
  • Clarifying
  • Organizing
  • Reflecting
  • Engaging

Our post today focuses on the “Capturing” phase of  GTD and describes the many ways that you can capture items in LifeTopix that are on your mind. Essentially, Allen states that it’s important to capture these items “outside your head.”

Watch the Video

Minimize Collection Buckets for Capturing Information

LifeTopix is an excellent app for capturing information simply because it organizes information all into one place. In Allen’s book, he states that you should minimize the number of collection buckets that you use to capture things to do and things on your mind. With LifeTopix, you can manage a variety of different types of information, which makes it ideal for minimizing those buckets.

As you know, information originates from several different channels, which results in many collection buckets. In some cases, these buckets can be multiple mobile apps and web-based applications. You receive messages from friends, family and colleagues. You check social media. You discover things on the web. And you receive information from other places — sometimes, it’s great ideas you’re thinking about.

The LifeTopix app combines email, social media, to do lists, your schedule, projects, tasks and more into one place. The many integrations, which include Evernote®, Toodledo®, Dropbox™, Box™, OneDrive™ (SkyDrive), Asana™, and Online Docs, are also helpful for minimizing the places where you collect information. For example, if you use Evernote® for note collections, you can easily manage those notes from LifeTopix.

More to Come

In the next few weeks, we’ll be posting more videos and tips to assist you with utilizing LifeTopix for GTD. Please subscribe to the Life Blog to stay up-to-date.

Learn about the next phases: 

GTD Basics – Methods for Clarifying Actions and To Dos in LifeTopix

GTD Basics – Methods for Organizing Actions and To Dos in LifeTopix

GTD Basics – Methods for Reflecting and Weekly Reviews in 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.

5 Ways to Transform Your Small Business with LightArrow Mobile Apps

LightArrow Apps for Small BizStaying productive and focused when running a small business or microbusiness is difficult. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, solopreneur, small business owner or freelancer, the challenges are the same. It’s imperative to stay on top of your game and laser focused on your goals to attain the success you set out to achieve.

As you know, these days it’s important to understand new technologies and new media in order to get ahead and stay ahead of the competition. And now, more than ever before, mobile technologies have changed the ways we get things done every day.

This week, we’ve compiled a list of five technologies and systems that you must have in your repertoire in order to achieve success in our modern world of small business. Enjoy!

1. Nurture Small Business Sales Leads and Build Customer Relationships

A CRM application is a great tool for simplifying the management of your small business contacts. It integrates a variety of different information about your leads, prospects and customers all into one place. An ideal CRM also includes project and task management, allowing you to assign sales and marketing tasks that impact your sales revenue. Typically, a cloud-based CRM will cost anywhere from US $12 monthly/person to US $125 monthly/person, not including professional services and ongoing support.

LightArrow apps include many customer relationship management features that web-based CRM systems have, without the monthly subscription fees. Our apps organize a variety of customers’ data that originated from multiple places into one mobile app.

For example, our apps allow you to organize leads, track, and manage leads. You can also interact with contacts through email or social media handles, directly from their contact record in your LightArrow App. In addition, LightArrow apps include powerful project and task management features, which allow you to assign tasks to yourself or others to nurture prospects and move them down the sales funnel.

In the following diagram you see LifeTopix’s spreadsheet-like view for managing contacts. Within this view, you can access and manage all the information about your leads, prospects or clients. Specifically, you can manage all the tasks that are required to advance to a successful sale. Once the lead becomes a customer, you can manage and organize any information for this client through the 12 life topics, included with the LifeTopix app; of course, keeping track of customer details is vital for customer retention.

SmallBizCRM

2. Manage Small Business Assets and Finances Wisely

Accurately managing the assets that your company owns and leases is key for the success of your small business. It’s important to track IT assets, furniture, vehicles and other items.  Asset Management software can come in many shapes and forms. You can choose simple mobile asset management or an expensive enterprise asset management system. It’s also important to manage your financial assets and finances. There are several options for managing finances from simple software to more complex accounting software. Some of the features that financial software solutions offer are expense and payment tracking, receipt scanning, invoicing, etc. Foremost, remember to use the software solutions that fit the needs of your small business.

These days, using a mobile solution for asset management is an important factor because it allows you to manage and update assets easily while on the go. LightArrow mobile solutions are a great choice for the small business, entrepreneur or solopreneur. Imagine your business includes a fleet of automobiles. LifeTopix is an ideal app for managing the details for each automobile asset. You can keep track of purchase dates, cost, current value, manufacturer, model serial numbers, SKUs, vehicle identification numbers (VINs), locations (map included), and categories. In addition, you can associate tasks, appointments, reminders, notes, checklists, online/local files, bookmarks, expenses, services, audio, photos or videos with each vehicle (or other asset). An example of how you might use LightArrow apps for asset management is shown below:

SmallBizAsset

If you’re a business owner who’s often on the go, LightArrow apps also offer solutions for managing finances while mobile. LightArrow mobile apps include tracking of financial information including expenses, payments, accounts, banking information, service payment templates, charitable donations, financial asset management and financial notes. With LightArrow apps, you can associate financial information with other items you manage in your app, such as assets. For example, in the graphic below, you will see that an expense is associated with an asset, which is a vehicle. Another popular feature for small business owners is the ability to set up Payment Templates with recurring payments; an example is also shown below.

SmallBizFinances

3. Make Social Media a Habit in Small Business

In today’s changing world, social media is vital for small business success. In fact, according to a study conducted by LinkedIn, 3 in 5 SMBs have acquired new customers via social media. There are a variety of ways to manage and monitor social media. You can use the free tools from the social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all the way to using a full-fledged social media management tool.

Social media management tools provide features such as keyword monitoring and listening, all-in-one views of social media accounts, scheduling, ways to engage with others, and in some cases, further analysis and recommendations. If you want all of this functionality and more from a hosted social media management system, it will cost you a monthly subscription fee that is typically charged by the number of users.

Social media is a commitment that will reap rewards over time. Before jumping into using an expensive social media management tool, I recommend that small businesses use free and inexpensive apps and web applications to manage their social media profiles and engagement.

At LightArrow, our apps include a social media dashboard and listening via keywords through Feed Accounts. You can set up feed accounts for Facebook and Twitter; and also for Email and Evernote®. You can listen for product or company mentions, and you can stay on top of your industry by creating streams with the keywords in which you’re interested.

SmallBizSocialMedia

Our Pro.Inbox app, shown above, has this keyword listening functionality built in. With My.Agenda, LifeTopix and Pro.Calendar, you can purchase this option via in-app purchase.

What makes our apps unique over the typical Social Media Management tool is you can convert the tweets and posts that you find into actionable items such as tasks, notes, events, appointments and more. For example, you might see an industry article that you believe is important to read in a Twitter feed. You can convert this item to a note and add a date tag to schedule it on your calendar. These items can be pushed to your iOS calendar, which in turn propagates to all the calendars that you’ve associated with your iOS calendar, which takes small business productivity to a new level. It’s important to note that this feature also applies to email and Evernote feeds, which allows you to accomplish “Inbox Zero” easily.

4. Unify Small Business Calendars, Reminders, Tasks and Checklists

Keeping a master schedule is important for your small business. It’s difficult to choose the right calendar app for your business schedule because there are so many choices available. All of these calendars and to-do list apps have their own unique bells and whistles. The apps you choose depend on your personal preference and business needs.

At LightArrow, we focus on productivity. That’s why we combined tasks, reminders, to-dos and eight calendar styles into one app view – with fast switching and beautiful styling. We’ve made our calendar views easy to read and they’re very simple to set up. As soon as you grant access to your iOS calendars that you use on your iPhone or iPad, your LightArrow app shows the events from those calendars. And as a bonus, your LightArrow calendar also includes your iOS reminders.

SmallBizCalendar In the graphic above, you will notice Overdue, Undated and Checklist sections shown in the Agenda view. These sections include everything from overdue tasks, undated tasks; open shopping items; iOS reminders; and checklists/to-do lists. Combining these items prevents you from hopping from app to app. You will also notice the comprehensive Month view, which enables you to see all your calendar items easily.

5. Manage Small Business Projects Like a Pro

Managing your projects without the right tools is like fixing a clogged drain with a Q-tip. The more and more you push; you’re never going to get anywhere. There are a lot of options for managing projects and tasks. Some cloud applications are free for a limited number of users and others require subscription fees.

LightArrow apps are excellent for individual and small team project and task management. The advantage of using LightArrow apps for project and task management is because the projects are integrated with the features discussed in this post, as well as other items, such as appointments, reminders, expenses, services, online notes and files and more. This prevents you from hopping from app to app to find the information that you need. Small business owners appreciate the ease of creating tasks and easily emailing them to a project participant, which allows delegation or task sharing. The recipient can easily open the email message; tap on the message and save the project and tasks in their instance of LifeTopix, as shown in the following example:

In addition, if you use Asana for project management (which is free for up to 15 users), LightArrow Apps include task integration with this popular tool.

Your Turn

Please let us know in the comments how you’re using your LightArrow app in your small business or if you have any questions or comments.

Reducing Stress and Anxiety – 3 Things That Work For Me

Over the years, probably brought on by being a startup junkie and always having poured myself unreservedly into work my entire professional life, I’ve developed several bad habits or things that are harmful to health, and perhaps also to relationships.

On the one hand, there is this insatiable passion and seemingly endless energy to take on challenges, get stuff done, being an engine that is always on. Sadly, on the other hand, there is fatigue, irritability, loss of focus, and low quality sleep. Undeniably, according to both ancient wisdom and modern medical know-how, the latter set of things affect one’s health dangerously. And with equal importance, the closest relationships are exposed to occasional bouts of irritability and other forms of negative energy. Broadly speaking, there is a general feeling of stress and anxiety as a result.

Three things I have either changed or started recently are personally helping me a lot without taking away from my productivity, and seem to be helping cut out the bad set of things.

RelaxPool

1. Turn off all audible alerts and lock-screen notifications on devices. (Except calendar reminders and text messages.)

This was a surprisingly welcome change. Sounds simple, but do you really need to be suddenly interrupted from your flow or zone, with a ding and a lock screen message that “Your Facebook friend so-and-so just joined Pinterest.” – and other irrelevant, unnecessary crap? I started going into my iPhone’s Notifications setup each time anything came up (Mail app alerts, Google alerts, Facebook, Twitter, CNBC alerts, and perhaps 10 others), and turning them off. I left Calendar and text message alerts on as I control the reminders I put on my calendar items, and also I am not a defocussed incessant texter – especially when I work, so most texts I get are important. On the same note, during work hours, I only make myself visible to the group of people I am working with on messaging apps. I still check my email and look at my agenda frequently, but on my own schedule, when I am in-between focussed tasks – kind of like waking up in sync with natural sleep cycles. Which leads me to my second thing – sleep.

2. Sleep well. Instead of an alarm clock, use an app like Sleep Cycle.

I started using this about a couple of months ago instead of using a regular alarm. It is ingeniously simple. You turn it on, put it next to your pillow facing down. It tracks your sleep cycles, duration and quality by tracking motion (whatever it detects from your tossing and turning, etc.), and perhaps from movement noise since it asks for access to the microphone. You can configure a window of time to wake up in, and it detects a stage when you are either awake or your sleep is in the waking part of the cycle during that time window, and wakes you up. Also, it measures your sleep quality and gives you a score and a graph of sleep level over time – that way you can correlate various pre-sleep activities with quality of sleep – for example, does sipping some tart cherry juice an hour before going to bed actually help with sleep, does deep breathing right before sleep give you some golden deep sleep cycles, etc. As my friend Chip had said 20 years ago: you should measure things that you care about. Inducing positive energy and a calm disengagement via pre-sleep deep breathing, and cutting out sources of negative energy seem to help in my case – which takes me to the third point.

3. Add positive energy (many choices). Cut out negative energy (namely TV news channels, and social media complainers).

Points 1 and 2 take zero time investment and give heavy positive returns. So that’s golden for the ROI (return-on-investment) fanatics. Point three is also a net positive – consuming about 30-60 minutes of time every day for adding positive energy (meditation / deep-breathing / quiet-time / simple yoga / reading / praying / reflecting / being grateful – look up Positive Psychology when you have a minute), but freeing up much more than that by subtracting sources of negative energy that steal time both directly and indirectly, and negatively affect every aspect of life. I am talking primarily about TV “news” folk, political talking-heads and other assorted villains – kings and queens of ignorance on TV and the internet constantly furthering their narrow agendas by stepping on your gentle minds. They come from the right and the left – ignore them, and instead look straight at what you value – there’s much better stuff there. The negative energy sources are plentiful in our social circles, in person, and more so on social media since it’s a much larger set. Cut. Them. Out. Hide them from your feeds, unfollow them, walk-away, change the topic, do whatever it takes to cleanly disengage. There are always tons of important things that require immense energy, constructive debate, championing ideas, defending values, and much effort without all the shallow and shrill things stealing our precious time. Any issue that is important to you can be engaged with constructively without subscribing to a buffet-line of fast-food class negative sentiments. That frees up more time to embrace positive things. Things you admire. Things you learn from. Things that leave you positive. Spend time with people that enrich you, and take a vacation every now and then!

What are some of your favorite positive energy sources? What kinds of negative energy sources have you successfully cut out? Please share.

5 Tips To Getting Organized And Staying That Way

When it comes to all of the information in your life, what is the best way to get organized? And once you achieve your new year’s resolution to get organized, what is the best way to stay that way? Everyone is different, of course, and one size does not fit all. But here are some tips that most folks should find helpful in achieving those goals.

According to a paper by the Alliance Academy, 83% of Americans want to be more organized. When we were younger, being organized wasn’t as important, or nearly as difficult. Maybe it wasn’t as important because it wasn’t cool, not as much depended on it, or  we were just more carefree. It probably wasn’t as difficult because we had a much smaller circle of acquaintances, there was much less going on in our life, or everything just moved more slowly before things like the internet and wireless handheld devices came along.

Whatever the reasons, it seems increasingly harder to do now. Here are five things you can do to deal with the information overload in your life:

  1. Determine what kind of information you have the most trouble keeping up withMaybe you find it almost impossible to remember when you have a dentist appointment. Or perhaps you keep forgetting that your father-in-law’s first name is Bob. Or maybe all of these are true and you think it may just be hopeless. Knowing the scope of the issue and the type of information involved is the first step in being able to identify the best way to organize it.
  2. Decide what type of organizational tool fits you bestOnce you know what kind of information you need to organize, you have a better chance of choosing the right tool that will work for you. If you are a techie and you always have a gadget with you, then a mobile phone, tablet computer, or PDA may suit you best. If you’re a luddite, then you’ll probably want to stick with something like a Moleskin notebook or other paper-based solution.
  3. Put your information into your organizational toolMost people have a tendency to want to keep track of “everything”. But you’re probably better off culling out the stuff you’re never going to use so you can get down to something more manageable and less overwhelming. Once you have identified what’s really important, think about the best way to organize all of it, and then put it into your tool in a way that makes sense to you.
  4. Get into the habit of using your organizational tool by establishing a routineThe more you use your organizational tool of choice, the more useful information it will contain. The more useful information it contains, the more you will want to use it. See how nicely that works?  The best way to ensure that you are capturing useful information is to establish a routine for putting information into it. When you meet someone new, put their contact information into your organizational tool right away. When you are scheduling an appointment, consult your tool to see when you’re available and immediately record your appointment.
  5. Periodically refine your processEvery once in a while, it pays to evaluate how well this whole model is working for you. You might start out using a paper-based system but, after having gotten an iPhone for your birthday, become much more comfortable with technology and more productive using it. Or, you may have changed jobs from one that involved working with lots of different people and required maintaining a bunch of contacts to one that is less people-oriented and requires keeping track of tasks and projects.

Those tips may not help get your junk drawer sorted out, but hopefully they will help you get your information in order.

Cloud in Your Pocket

The iPhone turned things upside down.

Overnight, we found ourselves in a world where we could go for longer periods of time without needing a real computer. Just like the Blackberry had redefined email on the go, the iPhone redefined what’s possible on a phone. Quickly, other phones followed Apple’s lead in this ambitious effort. A full database, a real OS, and an SDK for apps that rival those on desktops enabled the development of “real” software applications on these devices. But it did more – it achieved a great leap forward, bringing together previously-unrelated capabilities of mobility, location awareness, touch, orientation, and media capture. All of this led to mass user appeal. Now, many more people buy many more apps than they buy software for desktops.

LifeTopix taps into that power — and makes it even more powerful.

Leveraging this new reality, Team LightArrow does three big things in the LifeTopix app in order to deliver incredible value to users.

To start with, we take all that power and deliver it as relevant features to you.

LifeTopix takes advantage of every basic and advanced feature of the phone in a way that seems natural to the user. For example, users now have a powerful, one-touch charting capability for all of their health and activity metric data, and they can easily set locations for many types of items to allow them to utilize the very useful “Near Me” feature. The result is a truly business-class application, in contrast to much simpler apps that just try to do one thing.

None of this would be possible without an industry class information model within the app — a data model that rivals the most complex business apps, but delivers its power simply and easily. It does this through a device that empowers the user by working so intuitively and naturally that it frees the user from the burden of having to think about how to do what they want to do. LifeTopix gives them access to all of the information in their life, tied together as it is naturally, always in the context of what the user is doing or looking for.

Secondly, we deliver Your Information Cloud: In Your Pocket.TM 

The user today is flooded with an endless amount of information important to them — whether it’s something given to them by someone else, something they have created themselves, or something that they come across that they want to remember. LifeTopix connects to services in the cloud to allow them to capture all of this and make it available to them anywhere.

A document you have on Dropbox or Google Docs can now be linked into a project, a trip, a note, an asset, or any other item that is relevant. LifeTopix gives you access to your information spread all over the cloud, neatly in the place where it matters to you. We continue to integrate LifeTopix with additional popular online services across topics, with exciting ones like Evernote and others coming soon.

Thirdly, we turn the model upside down.

With a real database, the authoritative source of information is the device. That is where the app is, and where the database is. A client app on the Mac (LifeTopix AirAccess) allows you to access the date, use it, and manipulate it. The Mac client is a “slave” to the device, instead of the device being a slave to an old-school app on the Mac or PC. This is where we have truly put our trust into what the real power and potential of your device is.

We strongly believe in this model where the user always has their data in their pocket, while being able to use the Mac for easier typing and data entry. Whether it’s being able to push a bookmark quickly and easily from the desktop into the phone, or being able to look up the password of an online account securely while using the desktop – the data is always on their device. We submit this model turns traditional thinking on its head, thanks to the power and connectivity of the device.

This is only the beginning – look for many more fundamental innovations that set LifeTopix apart.