Give a Damn

I think if you were to boil most things down when trying to figure how to be successful, most of it at some point would come down to a common denominator…. giving a damn. Really. Your work. Your marriage. Your parenting. Your friendships. Your finances. Your generosity. Etc.

Freaking give a damn!

I know. I know. That’s oversimplifying a lot of potentially deep stuff. But at the end of the day, I want my wife to know that I seriously give a damn about her and about our marriage. I want my kids to know that I give a damn about them and their emotional, physical, educational, spiritual, and relational development. I want to love my wife and kids like I give more of a damn about them than anything else. I want my boss to know that I seriously give a damn about the work I am doing. I’m not just milking a clock or monotonously shelling out mediocre work; I actually care about honoring my employer and company with the quality of work that I offer. I want my friends to know that I give a damn about them. That I listen to them; that I care about them; that I pray for them. I want my wallet to reflect that I give a damn about the less fortunate in this world. That I am conscious with my spending and the types of products that I am buying.

So yes, I’m oversimplifying, but I guarantee that if you start your day out by asking yourself what exactly you give a damn about, it will impact the way to go about the various areas of your daily routine. What do the different areas of your day reflect? Do they show the world that you absolutely, without a doubt, give a damn, or would it seem that you are just getting through the time. Getting from A to B. Getting from rising out of bed to laying back in it. Offering nothing more than mediocrity.

Wherever you are in life. Whatever it is that you do for a living. Give a damn about it. No matter how mundane or seemingly insignificant it may be, give a damn.

And here’s the hard part: giving a damn requires giving yourself. With your marriage, family, work, friends, etc. it is impossible to truly give a damn about any of it without giving of yourself; laying aside your wants for the needs of others. I think the ironic thing about true lasting success is that it is so dependent upon you seeking the external success of all the surrounding elements of your life and not yourself.

Pick this idea apart and see what you get. Maybe I’m crazy. I even made a cute poem out of it…

Wherever I am…
Let me give a damn!

 

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GoodTask: A New and Better Face for Apple’s Reminders

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I’ve been testing out GoodTask (formerly known as This Week) for iOS for about a month now. Simply put, GoodTask is a mask for Apple Reminders; it’s what Reminders should have been. This is great for those who work heavily with Apple products, since Reminders is already built in to many areas of iOS.

The beautiful thing about GoodTask is that it also pulls in your calendars to show your tasks right on top of your schedule. You can filter task view between list, day, week, or month, which also filters what calendar items you see. I love being able to go back and forth from seeing my day’s tasks and schedule to the upcoming week’s tasks and schedule.

What I love about this app is that there are no workarounds for syncing Reminders to it, as with some other apps. This allows you to take full advantage of all the ways Reminders are built into the iOS experience, such as using Siri to create new tasks, or adding a reminder from an incoming phone call that you can’t take at the moment, and more. All of the same features of Reminders are there too, like location-based reminders, priority levels, various task lists, shared lists, recurring tasks, etc.

I’ve always wanted to take advantage of Apple’s Reminders, but always felt that the viewing functionalities were so limited and task input was very clunky. GoodTask changes all of that. If you’ve been wanting a much better experience for using Reminders, this is it.

The developers are currently working on a Mac app as well. I’ve been testing it with them for the past week and so far it is working great.

This app would work well for those who like Omnifocus in the way it puts tasks and schedules on top of each other, but don’t quite need something that robust or don’t want to pay the price tag for it. It would also be a great option for those who like more streamlined apps like Any.do, but want a little more functionality when it comes to viewing and task input. One feature that sets this apart is ability to share Reminders lists with others. This turns GoodTask into a great task collaboration tool.

GoodTask is currently $4.99 in the App Store

3 Apps to Help You Read More and Share More

If you are looking to spend more time this year reading about things that you love or discovering new interests and sharing more with your social networks, here are three great apps to help you do so. Each of these apps have become part of my daily routine of sifting through articles, finding ones of interest or educational value, and then sharing many of those with my followers.

Feedly

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When Google announced that it was pulling the plug on Google Reader, a certain level of panic ensued. I was using Reeder for iOS and Mac at the time, and was quickly looking for another option, even though Reeder had plans to ride out the transition (they now integrate with Feedly).

Feedly quickly jumped in to the rescue, providing a replacement for Google Reader. The apps were already pretty slick and only got better and better with new updates. Now I can’t remember how I ever operated without Feedly before all of this. From form to function, they have really put together one stellar experience for efficiently plowing through hundreds of blogs or thousands of headlines.

Feedly integrates with Buffer and enables you to easily add new links and updates to your Buffer. This comes in handy when browsing through a ton of interesting articles and allows you to space out sharing those articles on Twitter or elsewhere, instead of bombarding your followers with a flood of links in a short period of time.

Feedly is FREE on all available platforms. Click here to sign up, or if you already use Feedly, click here to add this blog to your reading list.

Pocket

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Previously known as Read It Later, Pocket serves as a place for you to save and tag any interesting website, article, video and more for you to revisit at a later time.

I use Pocket closely with Feedly. I subscribe to hundreds of blogs and in no way have time to read every article posted. Instead, I simply scan through article titles and if I come across one that looks like something I want to read but not right that second, I use the “Add to Pocket” feature. The article is then saved and I continue scrolling.

At some point later, I go to Pocket and browse through my articles. Pocket provides a great reading experience as it strips away all of the website’s clutter and provides you with just the content. If there is something I want to share, I just add it to my Buffer, an option that is built in to each of Pocket’s apps.

Pocket is FREE on all available platforms. Click here to sign up.

Buffer

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I have loved using Buffer for some time now. Buffer started as a simple way to load up tweets or updates and it would take care of spacing those out throughout the day. You simply set a particular posting schedule for each social network or use the default schedule and just start adding posts. Buffer has since added the option for users to schedule particular posts for a specific date and time, instead of just adding them to your regular schedule.

I use Buffer most when reading articles in either Feedly or Pocket. When I find one I want to share, I add it to Buffer and select which networks I want it to send to. Buffer can currently sync to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, App.net, and Google+ Pages. I’m really looking forward to the day when I can use it to post to my personal Google+ page.

So if you are wanting to start sharing more to your social networks and need an easy way to schedule them out throughout the day, Buffer is the best option.

Buffer is FREE for personal use on all available platforms, and they also feature upgraded plans that allow for more Buffer space, more networks, and collaboration with other social media managers. Click here to sign up.


Do you currently use Feedly, Pocket, or Buffer? If so, how do you use them? What do you love about them?

Omnifocus 2 – Beautifully Functional

One of my biggest obstacles to really being able to use Omnifocus regularly was the app’s design and interface. Omnifocus has always been a pretty robust GTD app, and until now the complexity of the app never felt totally fluid and intuitive for me to fit into my workflow. It also felt very dated aesthetically.

Omnifocus 2 changes all of that. It’s beautifully designed and still has the full feature set that it did before, but the user experience has been crafted in such a way as to make the app feel clean, simple, and somewhat minimalistic.

I can’t wait to see what the Mac app will look like next year.

One of the things I love most about iOS7 is the app redesigns. I’m also looking forward to what Cultured Code does with Things.

Add Tasks to Your Wunderlist Inbox via Siri and SMS

I have been a long-time fan of Wunderlist. It has become my go-to app for task management, and I’ve tested just about every task management / gtd app out there. I’m also very picky about what sort of functionality I want out of an app. For me, Wunderlist has come to implement just about everything I want; sharing, recurring tasks, cloud sync, webapp, native reminders for each device, email tasks to Wunderlist inbox, and the ability to view tasks by Today, Week, All, or by task list. Oh and it’s beautifully designed and is FREE!

However, with all of this, there has been one feature that I have been wanting to see for some time: integration with Apple’s Reminders app and therefore the ability to add tasks to my Wunderlist inbox via Siri. This was one feature that I loved so much when I used Things and Omnifocus. Any task / reminder added to my Reminders app would sync to my inbox in Things. Omnifocus would even sync the date and time of the reminder. This was a great workaround for using Siri to add new tasks.

Now, thanks to the new IFTTT (If This Then That) app for iPhone, this is now possible. IFTTT does exactly what its name says. You connect it with one of many various applications and create recipes, which consist of triggers that take an action of one app and do something in another app. For example, I use Box.net for all of my personal and family photo storage. I have a recipe that automatically pulls any photo I post to Instagram and saves it in a folder on Box.net. Pretty cool, but not what this article is about…

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If you would like the convenience of being able to use Siri to add tasks to your Wunderlist inbox, you can add this recipe here. If you want to build the recipe manually, here is all you have to do. (*note: you will need a Gmail address associated with your Wunderlist account.)

  1. Open the IFTTT iPhone app or log in on the web.
  2. Go to the create a new recipe page. For the first trigger (This), find the SMS channel. If you have never activated this channel, IFTTT will guide you through the steps of setting up your phone number with this channel. Follow the steps, enter your pin, and click activate.
  3. Next, find the Gmail channel for the second trigger (That). The Gmail account that you use for this channel should be the same as the one associated with your Wunderlist account. The email address that you will be sending to is me@wunderlist.com.
  4. Once the recipe is created, find it in your recipe list, open it and click “Edit recipe.” Click in the Subject box and add {{}} around the word “Message” if it is not already set up this way. It should read {{Message}}. You don’t need anything in the Body box. Click Update.

Now, go to your contacts and create a Wunderlist contact if you don’t already have one. Add the phone number that IFTTT gave you for your SMS channel. You can also add me@wunderlist.com to the email address section. Now, just fire up Siri and tell her to “Text Wunderlist.” The message should be the task that you are adding. Siri will then text the IFTTT number, which will then send an email to Wunderlist with the message as the subject, which will then create a task in your Wunderlist inbox with that message as the task title. Voila!

A cool added benefit of using this method is that you can share the Wunderlist contact card from your phone with family, friends, or coworkers, who can then send tasks to your Wunderlist inbox just by texting a task to that contact. They don’t even need to be Wunderlist users themselves, and they don’t ever have to touch an IFTTT recipe to do so. So I can now essentially create a way for anyone to send me tasks.

Add Tasks to Your Wunderlist Inbox via Siri and Apple Reminders

I have been a long-time fan of Wunderlist. It has become my go-to app for task management, and I’ve tested just about every task management / gtd app out there. I’m also very picky about what sort of functionality I want out of an app. For me, Wunderlist has come to implement just about everything I want; sharing, recurring tasks, cloud sync, webapp, native reminders for each device, email tasks to Wunderlist inbox, and the ability to view tasks by Today, Week, All, or by task list. Oh and it’s beautifully designed and is FREE!

However, with all of this, there has been one feature that I have been wanting to see for some time: integration with Apple’s Reminders app and therefore the ability to add tasks to my Wunderlist inbox via Siri. This was one feature that I loved so much when I used Things. Any task / reminder added to my Reminders app would sync to my inbox in Things. This was a workaround for using Siri to add new tasks. Now, thanks to the new IFTTT (If This Then That) app for iPhone, this is now possible.

IFTTT does exactly what its name says. You connect it with one of many various applications and create recipes, which consist of triggers that take an action of one app and do something in another app. For example, I use Box.net for all of my personal and family photo storage. I have a recipe that automatically pulls any photo I post to Instagram and saves it in a folder on Box.net. Pretty cool, but not what this article is about…

If you would like the convenience of being able to use Siri to add tasks to you Wunderlist inbox, here is all you have to do. You just need a Gmail account that is associated with your Wunderlist account and the IFTTT iPhone app. This recipe utilizes the “Mail to Wunderlist” feature, which you can read more about here, if need be.

Let’s get started…

1. Open the IFTTT app and click the Recipe icon in the upper right corner.
Photo Jul 14, 2 54 03 PM2. Click the + in the upper right corner to add new recipe.
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3. Click the Blue + to create first trigger in the recipe; your “If” action.
Photo Jul 14, 2 46 43 PM4. Slide the apps over until you find the iOS Reminders app.
Photo Jul 14, 2 46 19 PM5. Click the Blue + next to “Any new reminder.” Unless you want to use a specific list within your Reminders app. If so, just enter the name of the list on the next screen. You can still use Siri to add tasks to a specific list in Reminders. When she asks you “Shall I create it?”, just tell her to “Add it to my ‘______’ list.” I just set this option to “Any new reminder.”
Photo Jul 14, 2 46 52 PM6. Next, click the Red + for your “That” action. Find the Gmail app. If you haven’t connected your account with IFTTT yet, you will be directed through the steps to do so at this point. You must use the Gmail address that is associated with your Wunderlist account for this recipe to work.
Photo Jul 14, 2 47 07 PM7. Click the Red + next to “Send an email.” On the next screen, you will be asked to enter an email address. Enter me@wunderlist.com and click “Continue.”

8. Now, review your recipe. It should say. “If any new reminder, then send an email from ________@gmail.com.” If so, click “Finish.” We’re almost there!

9. Once, you click finish, you will be taken to your lists of recipes. Click the one you just made (It should be the one at the top).
Photo Jul 14, 2 54 09 PM10. Next, click “Edit Recipe“.
Photo Jul 14, 2 54 18 PM11. Go to the “Subject” section and remove everything except {{Title}} (delete the quotation marks as well). This will ensure that the Subject line, which is what the name of your task will be, remains nice and clean. You can then choose what you want to keep or remove from the “Body” section. Everything there will be added as a Note in the task.
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12. Once you are finished, click “Update.”

13. Now, launch Siri and add a task. I find it easier if you use particular language with Siri. I want to add a task to my Wunderlist inbox, but I don’t want Siri to be the one reminding me about the task. Once I move the task from my inbox to a particular list, I will then add any applicable reminders within Wunderlist. So instead of telling Siri to “Remind me” to do something. I tell it, “Add __________ to my reminders list.” By doing this, Siri will skip the step where she asks you when you want to be reminded. She simply adds it to the list.
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14. Tell Siri to create it or click confirm and you’re done! You can now go to your Wunderlist inbox and refresh it. Remember, this method uses a series a triggers. You create a Reminder, which triggers IFTTT to send an email to Wunderlist, which then syncs the contents of that email with your Wunderlist app. So you might not see the new task in your inbox the second you add the reminder, but it also doesn’t take several minutes.
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And that’s it! Now, when you have those quick tasks that you need to throw into your Wunderlist inbox, you can just feed them to Siri and deal with them later. Easy peasy!

A cool added benefit of using this method is that you can create shared lists within Reminders with friends, family, or coworkers who can then send tasks to your Wunderlist inbox. They don’t even need to be Wunderlist users themselves, and they don’t ever have to touch an IFTTT recipe to do so. They just add a reminder or task to that shared list. For example, I have created a “Mike” list in Reminders that I have shared with my wife. She can then use Siri on her phone to add tasks to that shared list, and because I have the recipe setup to pull any new reminders, those tasks will then show up in my Wunderlist inbox. So I can now essentially create a way for anyone to send me tasks.

Making Inbox Zero a Sustainable Goal

mailboxWithout the right plan or system in place, rushing to #inboxzero can be similar to cleaning a room by throwing everything in the closet. Yeah the room is clean, but now you’ve got a bunch of disorganized crap in the closet that you’ll have to deal with at some point. With your inbox, it may be empty now, but where did all those emails go? Were they simply dumped into a secondary inbox? What’s your plan to filter through those? Or have you ever had one of those places in your home where physical mail ends up? It goes from your mailbox to some sort of box, or mail holder, or some other place where it just kind of piles up over time. How much of that mail ever ends up being opened and acted upon?

Achieving inbox zero can work well, but only if you establish the right places for those messages to go and a plan for how you act upon them. One book that really changed the way I interact with email was “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky.

This book lays out the Action Method. The idea behind this system is that everything can be placed into one of three categories: Action, Reference, or Backburner. Action is anything that requires you to respond or act upon it. Reference is anything that either does not require action, or something of which you have already acted upon and need to keep for reference. Backburner is something that may call for action, but not anytime in the near future. Backburners are something you have the convenience of coming back to at a later point in time, after you have cleared up your actionable items.

So with email, I have structured a folder system around the Action Method. I have a primary folder labeled “Action.” This is where any email that requires a response or action goes. Secondly, I have a series of Reference folders. These folders are labeled according to current projects that I have going on. Any email that goes into these has already been acted upon. They are simply there for reference. Once the project is complete and I no longer need the messages, they go into the trash.

If an email requires action but does not need to be referenced at a later point, it gets deleted after acting upon it. If the message contains a reference item such as a file or link, I move the file to Google Drive or the link gets bookmarked. Evernote works great for saving links along with a quick note about why you are saving that link.

If the email contains an idea that would be good for later or an action that is a very, very low priority, it goes into the “Backburner” folder.

So every email has a destination point that ultimately leads to action and structured archiving. I do not strive to get my inbox to zero. My goal is actually to keep my inbox to 10 messages or less. There are messages that I just want to let float in my inbox so they remain in front of me.

Use whatever app helps you best, but use it with direction and purpose for sustainable productivity when it comes to seeking inbox zero.