Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Getting things out of your head

Most task management methodologies share some way to deal with getting information out of someone's head and into a persistent form as quickly as possible without evaluating it. Some methodologies use some notebook or tool that you carry around everywhere and you just write things down in them, some others simply have you write things on a whole sheet of paper and throw it into it inbox. These actions are intended to relieve you of the mental burden of keeping track of stuff. When you write something down and you know you can find it again later when you need it, it stops filling the space in the back of your brain. A great deal of research has shown that the more thought that has to go into categorizing or figuring out where something has to go at the moment when you need to capture it, the more likely it is that it will be lost (due to interruptions, indecision, etc.)

Unfortunately, most PIM's require you to know exactly what you going to do with the data before you ever capture it. And when you capture it, if you need to change it into something else, it can be a real pain that requires cut-and-paste.

The scenarios below deal with capturing information as well as evaluating and transforming it later.

Scenario: A parent is assuming out the door when their son reminds them that he needs to be at the newly scheduled soccer practice on Saturday. When the parent jumps in the car they open the PIM application on their cell phone and simply speak "Trent has a soccer practice next Saturday at 4 PM". The PIM generates a note and automatically puts it into a list to be triaged.

That evening when the parent opens the PIM on their desktop or tablet it notes that there are several items to be triaged. When the parent looks at the note they use a finger gesture or mouse gesture to transform it to an event. The event is generated with the subject "Trent has a soccer practice", and a date of next Saturday at a time of 4 PM.

Scenario: An entrepreneur is on the road and uses a digital voice recorder to record a bunch of brilliant ideas that they absolutely don't want to forget. When they come to rest they open up their laptop, open the PIM and import the various sound files from the voice recorder. A note gets created for each sound
file with the sound file attached. They automatically go into the triage queue and the entrepreneur can use voice recognition to extract the text or simply use the attached voice file as is.

Scenario: A vice president of a small company wants her engineering team to stay on top of the latest development technologies and subscribes to the newsfeeds of several training and development companies. She has set things up so that whenever something new is available it automatically gets put into her morning to do list as a task that says "Evaluate: New and Cool Course" where "New and Cool Course" was the subject of the newsfeed entry.

The VP evaluates a bunch of new courses and decides that 3 of them look interesting and then uses a mouse gesture or a click to transform all three of those into "Shared Votes" that are visible to the engineering team. The engineering team members each give a thumbs up or thumbs down to the particular course and at the end of the "New and Cool Course" has three thumbs up.

The VP then uses a mouse gesture or a click to turn the "Shared Vote" into an task "Schedule New and Cool Course for the engineering team".

Scenario: A security consultant has been asked to step in and have a conversation with a general consultant's client about their security needs. He enters this into the PIM as a note "Call so-and-so about security for whats-his- name". That night he tells the PIM that this note is now both an event (which is
not yet scheduled) AND a promise. These are not two separate entities. The single item is both an event and a promise. The event does not yet have a hard and fast date so it needs to be scheduled. And when it is complete, and the consultant notes that is complete, and email goes out to the general consultant
to let them know that that's complete.

And the security consultant can even share the event with the general consultant so that the general consultant can see when the event has actually been scheduled.

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