Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Giving GTD a try

I have tried many productivity schemes from time to time but was never able to stick to one to see proper results or life changing habits. I seem to be getting back to my normal self after sometime and the latest seems to just die away. Adding to the list of many things that I have TRIED!

The latest obsession is GTD. I had read about GTD about a year back and then read a few articles about it, mainly from 43Folders.com and other GTD related sites. On the outset it seemed like quite a bit of work, just to maintain and keep practicing it. The work flow seemed like a it required a lot of work in itself. Apart from that, those days I was not so busy. I had a pretty laid back work load and had the freedom to pursue my other interests like coding (read moBlog) as well.

But with the change of careers, I was getting more and more work on my plate. Responsibilities of my role grew pretty much to the point that it became almost unmanageable. And I felt the need for the productivity system pretty badly. I was working across time zones, so my working hours morphed into my family or personal time as well. And I was being pushed to my limits.

Then again I started to think about GTD. Call it synchronicity or whatever you like, I ran into David Allen's book at a department store a couple of weeks back. I read through a few pages, it didn't come across as an interesting read, but I bought the book anyway. And I started reading it leisurely. Now, with my workload I get to spend a very little time reading. I am trying to balance my free time between family time and reading time, so my reading of the book is proceeding very slowly.

So far I have reached the last part of chapter two. While I am sure that the process is proven and works, I am still a bit skeptical about it achieving the desired life that we all want to create for our selves. David Allen is pretty frank about it and he states that he is taking a bottom up approach to getting stuff done. His work flow is more focused towards getting the stuff on your plate done, but does not pay much attention towards qualifying them.

I mean it helps you go faster, but does not give much thought about the direction you are taking. To use Stephen Covey's words it helps you climb the ladder faster, but it does not tell you much about figuring out whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall. Not much on goal setting either. The logic behind GTD is if you get more stuff done and clear your plate, then you will have a clear mind to think more about the lofty goals. So any goals can be put into a someday list!

Anyway, something is better than nothing and I will give a try to GTD. At least if I can get the things on my plate done, without allowing anything to fall from the cracks that will be a good start!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Live Mesh from Microsoft

I have been looking around for a online storage for my frequent and important files which will also allow me to sync the files between my different computers. I use two laptops, a work laptop and a personal laptop. And I end up carrying my work laptop home because I sometimes have to work from home during a night, or just in case of an emergency.

I was thinking if there was a way where I could just work in my office laptop, save the files, come home and resume where I left off, on my home computer, wouldn't that be great? Also, it will provide a backup for all my files, in my home computer as well as some where secure on the Internet, so I don't have to worry about computer crashes and virus infections wiping out my data?

Sounds like wishful thinking? But isn't that what we all want?

I think I stumbled upon something that comes pretty close. Of course there are a few shortcomings, but those can be circumvented.

I just created an account at mesh.com (rather signed up with my LiveID) and also installed the client software on my Vista laptop. All the folders I created appear as folders on my desktop and all i have to do is to setup the synchronization settings on the folders and copy the files I needed to be synced to those folders. And the client software automatically syncs them with the Live Desktop (i.e. the online folder). And it will sync the files automatically if I install the software on another computer. That's what I am going to try next.

UPDATE: I found a better way of adding files to the mesh. After installing Live Mesh (beta) on your computer, you can right click on any folder and select 'Add Folder to Live Mesh' and set the sync settings. This uploads the folder to the Live Desktop! Great! This is just what I wanted.

Is this perfect or what? Well the answer is Almost! The only thing is it currently offer 5GB of storage space. But there is no mention of how you can get additional storage space, even at a price.

There are a few competing (or are they complementing) product offerings from MS it self. They have the Live Sky Drive, which is kind of a GDrive (well GDrive is still a mystery, SkyDrive is here). I think this is mainly targeted for online file sharing. Live Mesh can also do online file sharing. And then there is Live Sync, which can sync files between two computers. A little bit confusing if you ask me. I think what MS can do is actually integrate all of them under one service, Live Mesh seems like the natural way, and maybe offer more storage space to the users! Now that MS's service is out of the door before Google, maybe they should consolidate on this space and lock users in! More storage is definitely the way to go!