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02 April 2013

Three Productivity Tools that anyone require....

There are three common factors that link a working professional, a home maker or a business person.

There are things to do....

There are schedules to adhere to...

There are things to follow up...

You can improve your productivity by identifying and documenting the things to do, carefully scheduling them and following up with the people who have to do some of the tasks that are important for you.

Things To Do (TTD): The main characteristic of things to do is that these are tasks which YOU have to do. You cannot delegate these tasks to others. These are random list of items that you have to complete at some point in time. This may be as simple as taking the medicine or writing a new post in your blog or writing that email. The funny thing about this list is that the points will come to your mind at any time and if you do not jot down the thing to do as soon as you remember them, the chances are that you will forget them. 

Another characteristic of things to do is the priority. Some tasks are more important than the other. You should be able to prioritize these tasks. If you do not prioritize the tasks, all the tasks will become urgent at some point in time and you will have time only for urgent tasks and your important tasks are relegated to the background.

Yet another characteristic of things to do is the location. Each task has a location. You can improve your productivity by arranging the tasks by location and when you are planning to go to a particular place, you can complete all your tasks of that location. 

When to do, Schedule: Associated with things to do (TTD), is the Schedule. You must decide when you are going to do the same. Some of the tasks are urgent and will be scheduled. However, the key aspect of scheduling is to find time for the important tasks of your life. You have to schedule two hours a day for studying on that certification, find time for your annual health check up. While you are scheduling, ensure that you only schedule the tasks that are in your Things To Do (TTD) list. In other words, ensure to have a linkage between the TTD list and your schedule. The best approach will be to schedule the tasks as soon as you add them to your TTD list. However, for best results, prepare TTD through the week and prepare a Schedule on a particular day, may be on Sunday. This will help you review your priorities and schedule the top priority tasks first before you focus on your lower priority tasks.

Tasks To Be Followed Up (TTBFU): The key characteristic of these tasks are that, while you are responsible for these tasks, 'SOMEONE ELSE' has to actually do these tasks. This list has two parts, one, there is a list of tasks and two, there is a person (other than you) who complete these tasks. While it is difficult to schedule these tasks, they may have linkages to some of the tasks in your TTD list. These may be very important for you, but you have no control on TTBFU.

To improve your productivity, you have ensure that you have a comprehensive list of TTD and TTBFU and have a detailed schedule to do these tasks.

Being a working professional, who still use my Laptop to handle most of my work, I am always on the lookout for various Windows based applications to track my tasks and schedule my activities. 

What do I want?

One, I want an application that will help me list down my TTD list. There should be ways in which I will be able to identify the top priority items and also I should be able to group these tasks by location.

Two, I want an application that will help me prepare a weekly schedule my tasks

Three, I want an application that will help me track the items that I have to follow up.

I did some Google search to find out some applications that will help me handle these requirements. As I understood, it is very difficult to find an application that can do all the three. While you can still find a task and calendar application, there are no application that will handle TTBFU. I downloaded the following Things To Do (TTD) applications.

1. Wunderlist
2. GeeTeeDee
3. Google Desk Top

While the first two are comprehensive apps with the facility to create tasks with additional details like responsibility and schedule, Google Desktop is just a task list application. All the three can be installed on you Windows Laptop.

When it comes to Calendar, I found that Outlook Calendar is by far the best Calendar Application. The only problem is that this application is available only on a license basis. Another Calendar Application is Google Calendar. The main advantage of this application is that it is from Google and is integrated with your Gmail.

The disadvantage of Google Calendar is that it is not a desktop application, though I understand that recently Google has released a Desktop widget for Google Calendar.

So I was on the web, looking out for a good task cum calendar application, which is free, and I came across 'Rainlendar'. This is a very good application with integrated Task and Calendar feature and which can be easily installed and is intuitive.

It comes in two versions, the basic version is free, while the Pro version is chargeable.

I am still on the lookout for an application that can handle Tasks Follow up. I am yet to find one.

I think I am stuck with Excel for task follow up.

Do you know of any apps that can help me follow up on the tasks? That will complete my portfolio.

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