Tasks Events and Android home screens

Not that long ago I used to use Filofax planner to keep tabs on calendar and tasks, now my android phone has replaced both. Although I still use paper notebook for capturing notes, ideas and general writing, I find that smartphone is much better for staying on top of my appointments and task list.
For any information to be useful it must be easily accessible and visible. If there are too many steps, clicks it will not be used. There will be too much friction. Some interesting thought about friction can be found on Michael’s blog.

As result this got me thinking on how to setup my phone, so that I can easily see what’s upcoming and what I need to do today.

A great feature of android phones is that they provide ability to create multiple homescreens which in turn can display widgets. In essence rather than refer to actual app on a phone or wait for it to remind you about something, I can quickly scan the latest information on my screen.

I created an addiotional homescreen completely dedicated to my calendar and task information.

For that purpose I decided to use Agenda Widget for Android to show my calendar information. It’s fairly chunky download but it provides very nice graphical representation of my calendars and appointments. It also has a tons of customisation so it should easily fit everyones needs.

As for the tasks, I’m using Remember the Milk which provides a number of wigdets to choose form. RTM has been my task manager of for a number of year so I really enjoy making the most of it. At the moment I’m using a widget to show me all tasks due today but I can swap it for any type of list.

On daily basis I refer to this screen to review what’s coming up next. I also at least try look at it every evening too so I can prepare for next day and see where I’m.

What do you use to stay on top of your daily agenda? Do you have any way of keeping your appointments and tasks visible?

Staying productive with Android

Over the last 18 months I’ve been using an android phone to the greater extent than before. Thanks to all the available applications it became a great partner and assistant in managing my productivity and staying organised.There is a certain amount of applications that I find invaluable.  Let me run down through some of the critical applications.

Remember the Milk – Remember the Milk web app forms a core of my task management, it’s a primary place for storing my next actions, project list, waiting fors etc. The Android app provides a great interface to quickly access, today’s task or specific lists or a tag. The input panel supports RTM’s syntax which make inputting tasks a breeze. Also supported are various widgets and shortcuts which make it easier to quickly glance what due. I use it to see how many tasks are there in the inbox and how many are for today.
A very nice feature is offline support which makes the app fully functional even if you’re are not accessing the network (good for traveling abroad).

Evernote – an app that titles itself as your external brain. Truly remarkable tool for capturing any ideas, notes, links, images etc. I use the application almost daily recording anything and everything that captures my attention either on the phone like tweets or links to interesting designs, patterns, notes etc. I later review those items on my deskop application and categorise them in some way.

Dropbox – cross platform and device syncing nirvana. This is where I store my current drafts and support material for open projects. It’s simple, works unattended and always provides me with the latest version of the document I work on. Recommend that you investigate putting additional encryption software before stotring very sensitive passwords or other info into Dropbox.

Pomodroido – a very versatile timer application that lets me get into zone and focus on an task at hand. There are plenty of different options for setting up duration of pomodoros from 15 to 45min. A nice aspect is climbing the levels which makes you use the application even more.

Dolphin Browser Mini – is my default browser. It’s solid alternative to the default Andorid browser. I’m using the mini version only because I have limited amount of space available so need to keep my apps as slim as possible.

Everpaper – is a solid Instapaper reader app that nicely fits into my reading workflow. It provides support for all basic functions of the service as well as an offline storage to save articles for later. I used to use Read It Later on Androind and Firefox but since Instapaper provides excellent conduit to Kindle I decided to switch.

Gmail – stock Android Gmail client for checking my email accounts. Nothing too fancy but works great and lets me deal with email quickly while on the go.

These are the core productivity applications. There is obviously a bunch more that I’m gradually incorporating into my workflow. Here are some of the other applications that I find very useful:

Google Docs – I’m not a big user of Google Docs but I found it to be a great tool for managing my Editorial calendar. I wouldn’t say it best working.

Keep track – is a progress tracker that I use to monitor couple important statistics. The app is very well designed and easy to use. Best feature are the stats screen and a corresponding graph plotting how I performed.

Keepass – is an Android equivalent of open source password manager with the same name. Best thing you can share you password library with your phone and computer over the Dropbox folder. Excellent for having access to passwords on the go.

Ted – is a small text editor, very handy for creating text files and saving them in Dropbox for further use.

Textspansion – totally new app, which I installed just yesterday. It aims to be the TextExpander for Androind. Although the Android security setting prevent applications from “listening” your key strokes this one provides a handy shortcut through use of search key and then selecting desired phrase. Not most elegant solution but works none the less. Definitely something to look at if you’re into automation.

Hope you find this rundown of apps a useful reference point for your own pursuits. Above list is result of months of trial and error and searching for a better app the serve the need.
Despite the heavy reliance on the smartphone I still use paper as a thinking aid. My favorite combination is using a smartphone with a Moleskine notebook, former allows me to see where I’m at and latter lets me think things through via writing, doodling, sketching.

Please share you’re favorite in the comments I’m always interested in news apps. Do you have any favorite apps?