Making GTD work for you using Hiveminder, Google Calendar, iCal, iSync and your mobile

I'm a fairly new member of Hiveminder. I remember, I saw it first from a Lifehacker article discussing about the best GTD tool. I wanted something unobstrusive and could be used in a variety of ways.

I found Hiveminder and I gave it a spin. I immediately liked its simple layout which is quite refreshing and neat. I don't have to think much about how to use it. I immediately began using the "braindump" for all the tasks I had to work on. Though I'm a fan of handy notebooks, I would very much love to have technology remind me of things I need to work on too. Sometimes, I get too lazy to read my notebook or scribble down my thoughts for most of the time, I think faster than I could write!

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At first, I just put everything in the braindump. Later on, I got to study the integration of the tools available to Hiveminder. Its really wonderful that several services could be made available through the use of already institutionalized basic services such as IMs and Emails. Right now, Twitter is becoming another one of those basic services, along with Facebook, of course.

Although they haven't integrated their IM service to Yahoo yet, its already available to those using AIM and Gmail/jabber IM accounts. They have a very comprehensive list of commands available for IM use and a short but sweet guide to using the IM service. The email tool seems very helpful too! I figured if you can't do IM in your office but would really love to be able to collate your tasks in Hiveminder, you're gonna love this. Well, whilst the other may be using their IMs or Emails for this, Twitter buffs won't be ostracized too! They have an account at Twitter which they hooked up for us when if we want to jot down tasks via Twitter. Its a direct message, so nobody will see it at all.

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Over the couple of months that I've been using Hiveminder, what I find lacking in it is a good security setup (though they reserve it for their Pro users--I'm only using the basic free one). And another, would be a good roundtrip syncing of items with their available tools.

Apart from jotting down your tasks, of course you'd want to be reminded of them. I use GeekTool to display my Hiveminder items on my desktop via an export of my tasks in text format. Another more useful tool for me is the export to iCal. And this marks where I make a more holistic approach to my GTD life.

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Google Calendar, the center of the agenda

I don't know how it is that others get to do their GTDs via a sole tool or process alone, but I do use several tools at different times. I'm a sort of a Google buff/Google whore (or whatever you might want to call a person who spends most of their time within Google services). I use mostly Google powered tools to power my lifestyle. I email, I read, I surf, I check my sites, etc. using Google related services. Its not surprising, I'd find Google calendar better than any other online calendars out there.

Our office shares calendars via Google calendar and also in Apptix (which I hate by the way). I like the fact that I could subscribe/unsubscribe from several calendars using only one account. With this, I keep the personal events from the public events in separate entities, while I'm able to access/view them using only one account. Routinely, I would backup my calendar via an export to iCal format.

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Exporting to iCal format seems to work best for me whenever I'm offline (which I so often hate to be). I can quickly breeze through my appointments and reminders via iCal. Note that, even if Google Calendar has an option for sync already, I haven't been able to get it to sync with my W960, that's why I'm opting to do it this way.

iCal, one step closer to me offline

iCal is very flexible tool that I have not yet maximized. You can jot notes on your events, create alarms, sync with other calendars, etc. Although I have not yet used it to its full potential, I'm already happy with making use of it with what I have and for my needs. It makes my life easier when I'm in offline mode.

Right now, I have my Google calendar imported into iCal (which I manually do from time to time). As part of the whole integration, I also export my Hiveminder tasks to iCal. I also have another calendar for TastyPlanner which I have included in my iCal setup.

I just set my Hiveminder and TastyPlanner subscription to auto refresh every now and then to receive updates. I do the manual import of my Google Calendar since I want the items there to be grouped into one subscription.

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iSync, the bridge to mobility

Finally, there's the missing link. None of these tools could have been any more useful than they are alone without syncing them all to my mobile. Of course, when internet and laptop are both missing, I still have to survive. Good thing iSync is there to give my life a fuller shape.

For a long while back, I wasn't able to find a plugin that could help me link iSync with my W960i phone. I have searched long and hard to find it since it wasn't automatically detected by iSync's native setup alone.

I have found this and gave it a try. It worked for me! Now, my calendars and todos can be synced to my mobile and I don't have to miss anything!

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Maximizing this setup

Now, there are tricky items in this setup. Hiveminder doesn't really show up in your iCal after the export/import has been put in place. The key factor is to always put due dates in your tasks if you want them to be visible in your synced calendar.

Another thing would be if you keep on missing your appointments/reminders just because you failed to look at your calendar. But this can be fixed! What I do for this, is to setup Google to send me SMS reminders from Google Calendar. You can do this too by going to your Google Calendar >> Settings >> Mobile Setup.

So there, if this doesn't work for you, you can still explore other ways of making your life's tasks easier and faster to accomplish. Maybe sometime soon, I can come up with something better for me too. Who knows? :)

Maricris Nonato

I turn tech ideas into websites using Ruby. I'm a budding Buddhist practitioner, passionate about health & fitness, and a cat fanatic!