Guest Lecturer: David Allen on GTD

As I mentioned in this post, David Allen’s work with GTD was a major focus of the content here in the pre-SMUG days.

Through this video, I’ve invited David to be a guest lecturer for the SMUGgles, giving an overview of his GTD methods and how and why they work.

(Well, in reality, Google invited David to to address its employees, and because of the magic of YouTube we all get to listen in.)

I highly commend this to your viewing:

And if you don’t have the book yet, you can order it below:

Back in the GTD Saddle

The last several months have been a whirlwind, culminating (at least to this point) with the Feb. 10 launch of our member community site for the Social Media Health Network, which is associated with our new Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

We’ve also now completed our staffing for the Center, and of course that was a major undertaking, as was selecting the new members for our External Advisory Board.

The hectic pace and the need to try to get back on top of it all led me to refocus on more rigorously applying David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology, which was among the main topics of this blog in the pre-chancellor years. Here’s a post from 2006 that’s a good jumping-off point for GTD exploration.

So on Saturday, January 15 I decided to head over to the office after our radio show production, and spent about three hours getting to this point:

Of course I didn’t capture the “before” state, but let me assure you it wasn’t pretty.

And as I referenced in the video, neither was my email inbox. I did make a strong effort over the ensuing few weeks, but even as of Feb. 13 I had nearly 2,300 emails that were in various stages of processing:

So last week I made a major push, and by Friday at 3:38 p.m. CST I reached my goal:

As GTDers know, that doesn’t mean that I had nothing left to do with my emails, but it did mean I had processed all of them and had decided whether they were

  • Actionable items to Delegate, Do, or Defer
  • Reference materials that could be valuable at some point, or
  • Items to Delete

As of this evening I have kept my office in the clean and clear mode for 27 work days. I’ve had five straight days of getting to the empty email inbox.

With the explosion of communication, your life is not likely to get less busy any time soon, as the number of potential inputs you get will continue to increase. That’s why it’s important to have a means of handling all that “stuff.”

If you haven’t explored GTD, I highly recommend it.

AED4EU and the Power of Twitter

Yesterday I posted a video in which Lucien Engelen (@zorg20) interviewed me about social media in healthcare, which he shot while I was his guest in the Netherlands earlier this month.

I interviewed Lucien that same day, asking him to tell the story about the mobile phone application for iPhone and Android that he had gotten developed and launched. It’s an augmented reality app that shows where the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED) is located, using the phone’s location awareness. In the case of someone experiencing cardiac arrest, the ideal would be for one person to administer CPR while another bystander uses a smart phone to locate an AED that could shock the heart back into normal rhythm.


I could talk more about the application, but Lucien demonstrates it briefly in this video. More importantly, he tells the story of how Twitter enabled him to find a programmer to get the project done, and how much time that saved in development.

Twitter is an amazing tool for finding information, but more importantly making connections with people. Three weeks from first Tweet to completed iPhone application is pretty amazing. In the way of the Web 1.0 world, Lucien’s analysts would have had to identify a list of companies with programming capability, build a list and then send candidate companies a request for proposals. In the Twitterverse, he could just tweet the question, directed to no one in particular, and the answer found him in less than 30 minutes.

That’s serious productivity ROI!

How about you? What’s your best story of how Twitter helped you find information quickly?

Update: Here is the AED4.EU site.

Chancellor’s Choice Award: A Picturesque MacHeist

As I mentioned earlier today, I was alerted to a great deal on a Macintosh software bundle last night via Twitter. With 14 fully functional software programs for $39, it’s hard to see how it could be a bad bargain.

But I still wanted to try a couple of the programs before the clock runs out tonight on the limited-time offer. The Times (retail $30)program, which uses a newspaper metaphor for pulling in RSS feeds, is a nice package. I played with The Hit List (retail $49.95) for a few minutes on the bus, and it’s a promising GTD application that will have a related iPhone version.

And here’s what I was able to do with Picturesque (retail $34.95) to enhance the look of our global map of SMUGgles. Here’s what I did in just about 5 minutes this evening:


Before (click to enlarge)
Before (click to enlarge)


After (click to enlarge)
After (click to enlarge)

I think these three programs alone are worth the $39 price of the MacHeist 3 bundle. But it’s only available until about 10 p.m. CDT today (or 3 more hours.) By the way, 25 percent of the proceeds go to charity, either evenly split among 10 of them or focused on a charity of your choice.


If you’re a Mac user, you should go get this bundle now.

If you’re not a Mac user, please pass this offer along to your friends who are.

Chancellor’s Choice Award: Tweetie

The SMUG Chancellor’s Choice Award is presented occasionally to social media tools that aren’t free but are good values, as judged by the SMUG Chancellor in his sole discretion.

The first category to be presented is Twitter Clients for iPhone, and honorable mention goes to:

Twittelator Pro


I had previously used Twitterific and the free version of Twittelator, but for the $4.99 upgrade the benefits of Twittelator Pro are immense. Among my favorites are support for:

  • Multiple accounts, which means I can engage with both@leeaase and @mayoclinic tweets, and can switch between the two in a few seconds.
  • Subgroups, which lets me pull out “Top Tweeps” to follow more closely from among the more than 1,000 I’m following.
  • Search, which lets me follow relevant tags like #HACon09 or terms like “Mayo Clinic”
  • Landscape mode Tweeting, which gives me a bigger keyboard for my larger-than-average thumbs.
  • Segregation of @replies and direct messages, and ability to toggle among them quickly through the bottom navigation.

This upgrade to Twittelator is an excellent value. Still, in the category of Twitter Clients for iPhone, it comes in second to the winner, which is:



Like Twittelator, Tweetie ($2.99) can handle multiple Twitter accounts. One disadvantage is that when you open Tweetie or switch between accounts you don’t see the little red numbers over the Replies or Messages (as you do in Twittelator) that alert you to Tweets in response to or directed to you. Twittelator is therefore a bit faster for quick monitoring of Twitter accounts. No red numbers in Twittelator means no Tweets that need response. In Tweetie you need to check each tab.

Tweetie also lacks the Subgroups feature that Twittelator has. But I expect I will be using Tweetdeck for my “Top Tweeps” monitoring. My iPhone client’s main function should be to enable me to respond to tweets while I’m on the go. And for this, Tweetie has several advantages:

I really like the Tweetie interface. What got me to try it was a tweet from @shelisrael, who said:


Tweetie is just very elegantly designed. It doesn’t seem to have quite as many features as Twittelator, but the ones it has are stunningly simple.

For example, the name of your currently active account is at the top of the screen in Tweetie. That keeps you from mistakenly tweeting a personal message from a work account.

Another thing I love is that I can view followers on Tweetie and make decisions to follow them. Even better, the most recent followers are on top, so I can probably disable the new follower email messages from Twitter, and just do all of my Follower maintenance from Tweetie when I have free moments. That will make my email handling more efficient.

Either Twittelator or Tweetie will make you more productive than the free Twitter clients for iPhone, but the Chancellor’s Choice goes to Tweetie.