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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.

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.

Dropbox, Google Docs, and Evernote – A Balancing Act

A recent question on www.Quora.com, ”What is the best way to balance the use of Dropbox, Google Docs, and Evernote” inspired us to create a post describing how we support these services from within LifeTopix so that our users can easily place and track relevant pieces of information in their proper context regardless of its source. These three services (Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Docs) are the choice within their category for our users, and most users use a combination of all three based on their needs.

We’re constantly talking to our users about how they use top notes services (Evernote), top file storage services (Dropbox), and top collaborative document services (Google Docs). This has influenced us to support these services from within LifeTopix, and also helped us to understand how users want to track relevant pieces of information in their proper context regardless of its source.

This post will explore how you might use these services when planning a trip — to perhaps, Maui.

Evernote: Real note taking happens in Evernote. As a platform for notes, Evernote gives you access to your serious notes that build over time from anywhere. When planning your trip to Maui, you might want to jot down a few tourist attractions and places you want to visit by using Evernote. You can get to your notes from most devices using either the Evernote app or via a browser on your Mac or PC, making it very easy to manage the content of these long-term reusable notes. Within a LifeTopix trip, you have access to an Evernote entry used during trip planning. After syncing your notes in All Online Notes and associating the notes with a topic item, you can view your notes within the context of your trip as we show you below.

Dropbox: By making it very easy to store files from the desktop as well as from apps, Dropbox has become the file storage service of choice for our users. Again, we chose not to replicate this, but rather to allow our users to attach files from Dropbox into items within LifeTopix. For example, if you are planning a trip with a group of friends, you might want to upload travel itineraries, brochures, photos, or other files that are necessary for your trip. After adding your Dropbox file folder to LifeTopix via Notes + Files, the file becomes available for viewing in context of the Maui trip. Notice the notification on the Files icons below. Clicking that icon allows you to view and edit these files.

Google Docs: For online collaboration, personal documents, and spreadsheets, Google Docs has the most traction within our user base. Again, we allow LifeTopix items to easily associate spreadsheets and other documents that are authored, edited, and managed on Google Docs. For example, during your Maui trip, you might want to track shared expenses with your friends. Collaborating in a Google Docs spreadsheet and viewing it within the context of the Maui trip is a great way to keep everyone on track with their trip expenses.

Personal and collaborative notes, documents, and files will continue to be a heterogeneous approach based on what we have seen over the last few years. As a vendor of the most complete life organization and productivity app, we have embraced the concept of getting more value from users’ notes, files, and documents by allowing these items to be used in context.

How I am Getting Things Done with LifeTopix

When I first heard about Gettings Things Done® (a.k.a., GTD® — the organizational method devised by David Allen), I knew it was something in which I would be interested. I have a lot going on in my life so I’m always on the lookout for anything that can help me be more efficient and effective.

Not to detract from the multiple books David Allen has written about GTD, but the key concepts about GTD can really be boiled down to control and perspective — “control” meaning gaining the upper hand over all the really important information in your life, and “perspective” meaning looking at that information in a way that lets you focus on the right set of priorities.

One key part of GTD is that it must be easy to capture, monitor and access all the information about the things that you need to get done. That can be accomplished with just about any kind of tool, including the paper-based implementation of GTD that the folks over at the David Allen Company describe for those luddites who crave organizational enhancement. Making it easy to record, monitor, and view all your information is precisely what LifeTopix is all about, so I was especially interested in how I would be able to use it to implement GTD. Here’s how:

For the “control” part of the methodology, GTD advises that as you come up with ideas, you should quickly capture them, deferring planning and classification to a later time. This allows you to get those ideas out of your head so your mind remains “uncluttered” and you can be more effective at the task at hand. Of course, I have always referred to this as “I need to jot this down before I forget”.  🙂 The LifeTopix Quick Inbox is perfect for this.

This week, I had three things that I thought of that I wanted to do at some point. Rather than get distracted from what I was doing at the time I thought of them, I captured them all in the LifeTopix Quick Inbox.

  • We’re expecting a baby in a couple months, so I created a Quick Inbox item titled “Get nursery ready”. I didn’t set an Act By date to begin with, but I know we need to get that done sooner rather than later, so I set the When to Soon.
  • Doing my taxes is always quite involved. I created a Quick Inbox item titled “2011 taxes” so I could plan a project for that and all the tasks associated with it. I wanted to get started on defining that project well in advance of the April 15th filing deadline, so I set the Act By date to March 15, 2012, and set the When to Someday.
  • We need to get a new TV, but I always like to research electronics purchases before we make them, so I created a Quick Inbox item titled “Research new TVs”. I didn’t set an Act By date to begin with, and that is not an urgent item, so I set the When to Someday.

This is what my Quick Inbox looked like after all that:

My GTD Quick Inbox

Later, I went through my Quick Inbox items and specified more information.

  • I converted the “Get nursery ready” item to a project with a start date of December 15, 2011, and created tasks within that project for painting the room and getting everything set up. Then I added shopping items to that project for the paint supplies, bassinet, and other items we still need. Finally, I set the category to “Baby” to help with the perspective part of the GTD methodology I would be doing.
  • I converted the “2011 taxes” item to a project with a start date of February 1, 2012, and an end date of March 30, 2012. I added tasks to that for gathering my documents, purchasing my tax software, and completing my tax return. I set the category to “Finances”.
  • I converted the “Research new TVs” item to a task with a due date of February 4, 2012 so we would have it by the Super Bowl. I set the category to Media > Equipment Upgrade.

LifeTopix makes it very easy for me to see the items I should be working on now via the What’s Next view. I have mine set to show me items for the next 7 days, so this is what it looks like after I went through my Quick Inbox:

What's Next - GTD

LifeTopix does a great job of letting me implement a GTD methodology. I have control because I am able to capture all my todo items easily so nothing falls through the cracks, and the touchpoints between all the topics is perfect for allowing me to leverage related information without having to re-enter it multiple times. I have multiple perspectives because while I often need to view things from a time view (what I need to do now, what I need to do tomorrow, what I should do if I find myself with some spare time, etc.), I also like to view them from a category view (what baby-related activities I have scheduled, what finance items I have to work on, what items can I work on while I’m at the office, etc.).

LifeTopix and GTD — two great things that go great together!

5 Powerful App Features to Get Things Done Naturally

– An Ultimate Productivity Approach.

GTD devotees know that there are 5 phases to mastering workflow – Collect, Process, Organize, Review, and Do. But how you apply technology to the task of actually putting these 5 phases into practice?

We propose a system that takes an organic view of productivity to more truly reflect how we get things done in life. This system takes into account all the real-life elements of getting things done – things beyond notes and lists of tasks. For example, with something as complex as planning an event (like a birthday party or wedding), going on a family vacation, or embarking on a large household project (major landscaping improvements),  tasks and notes with simple reminders only take you so far. Many more elements are involved, such as services utilized, managing the providers for those services, shopping, bookmarks, sharing with and managing event co-hosts, travel companions, or project team-mates, in addition to a comprehensive calendar view of everything with proper reminders.

LifeTopix does 5 things to make it all come together more naturally.

  1. Quick Inbox
  2. Touchpoints
  3. Dashboards
  4. Device Integration
  5. Social Collaboration

Let’s quickly take a look at each concept.

1. Quick Inbox

It’s not just about quickly entering something to be processed later. It’s about capturing an item that can become anything – a project, a trip, and event, etc. While it resides in the Quick Inbox, it can be marked as something to be done soon, or someday, it can be given a type from the beginning, it can be converted later into a specific type, and it can be managed in the inbox to track the next action date, while simultaneously being managed from whatever topic the item got converted into.

2. Touchpoints

Once it’s converted, the ability to associate all items with it in the app as it naturally does in real life, is key. To be able to manage shopping for a trip from within the trip, manage tasks, reminders, checklists, appointments, bookmarks, media, services, providers, notes, files, and share with participants from within the trip, from the same app, is priceless. Touchpoints are exactly that.

3. Dashboards

Across everything you are doing/planning/thinking, across everything you need to know, configurable dashboards put it all together in helpful panes like What’s Next, Recently Updated, and Quick Access to the most popular items from a a single place. The power of expensive business apps in the palm of your hands for organizing your personal life redefines what a top productiviy app does.

4. Device Integration

Use the contacts in your device directly, while knowing how the people in your life are associated with things you do over time – trip companions, event attendees/hosts, task owners, project mates, service relationships (doctors. plumbers, etc). Take advantage of the device calendar in a way that fully integrates it with all things managed in the app. Utilize location to know errands, shopping and other location relevant items. Whether at home or on the go, get more from your device to manage the information in your life.

5. Social Productivity

Facebook, Twitter, MobileMe, Google Docs, Dropbox – the list keeps growing. By using your favorite social and cloud apps directly from the things you do and need to know, usher in a level of productivity impossible to imagine with simple apps that do one thing only – like manage tasks, or keep lists, or just jot down notes. Go pro. Check out LifeTopix – tell us what more you want from this new kind of app.