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02/04/2013

Nozbe: Declutter your life

How's your to-do list looking? Are you stuck with a hundred different tasks and unable to get them organized? You can use technology to organize your life, and there are lots of different tools and systems available. I've used most of them, but I hit on one recent that really seems to do the job. It's called Nozbe.

2I'm a big fan of a time management system called Getting Things Done (GTD). It's by a time management guru called David Allen, and it's a good way to get all of your tasks out of your head and onto paper (or, in this case, pixels). There's a whole book on it, which is worth a read, but it follows a simple principle: every task or piece of information that comes in should go into an inbox until you're ready to deal with it, so that it isn't floating around in your head (or on your desk) and stressing you out. 

When you're ready, you attack everything in your inbox at once. If the thing in your inbox is a piece of information for reference and doesn't need an action, then you file it away. If it needs an action, and you can do it in under five minutes, then get it done. If you can't, then either delegate it to someone else, or file it under a 'context'. A context represents something that you do or somewhere that you are (think 'computer', 'phone', or 'errands'.). 

There's lots more to GTD, and the book is worth a read, but the most significant thing about the system is that it helps get everything out of your head and onto paper - or, in the case of tech-heads, software products like Nozbe.

I've tried lots of systems that can be adapted to support GTD (although there still isn't an official GTD app endorsed by Allen). Omnifocus is good, if complex, but its downside was that it was only available for the Mac and iOS platforms. What about those of us that use a mixture of Mac, Android, Windows, and web? 

Nozbe is available on all of those platforms, and synchronizes instantly between them. It includes an inbox for you to drop stuff into, but also a calendar view so that you can organize your tasks by date. It supports GTD's 'next actions' list, where you list all of the tasks that you can do immediately (as opposed to tasks that are waiting for other things to be completed first), and it also features a projects list, so that you can group tasks together under common goals (such as 'sell house', or 'organize conference').

One of my favourite things about Nozbe is its ability to create project templates, so that you can create copies of projects that you find yourself doing again and again. It saves a lot of time.

Another feature is its file sharing system. It integrates with third party services such as Evernote and Dropbox, dropping files stored there directly into the relevant projects in Nozbe so that you can access them easily.

There are other task management systems, of course. Remember The Milk, Producteev, and ToodleDo all have things to offer. But in spite of some glitches, (the Android app could have more functionality, like the desktop version), its layout, templating and close replication of GTD's basic principles make it a valuable tool. Getting everything into your inbox and then filed into the relevant contexts means that you can attack your tasks one at a time, without worrying that you're missing anything. It'll cost you a little bit of money each month ($10, if you don't pay for a year in advance), but for me, it's worth it not to have tasks spinning around in my head any more.

Do you use a computer or mobile phone to organize your time and tasks? What's your favourite tool?

Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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