Archive for the ‘Things Tutorials’ Category

Using Existing Tools

July 1, 2011

More than a year ago, I bought a really nice tool called Things because it ran on my iPod Touch. There was also a version for the Mac, so I got that as well. The tool was built to support the philosophy of David Allen, which he told us all about in Getting Things Done. I read part of the book years ago but never finished it. Since the custom tool i am building is quite a handful on my iPhone and a little clunky on my iPad, I thought I would go back and look at Things, to see if I missed something.

Boy, do I feel silly. About half of what I have built my tool to do was already there in Things, and it works just fine on all three devices if I just take time to set it up to be used. And though I don’t have my laptop with me, I have figured out that the iPad version will be a good reinforcement tool for the remainder of the trip.

The nice thing about it is that I can get a sense of what Things won’t do that I feel I need my custom tool to do. Some of what my tool does are what Things does with “tags”. It even has something like the filters I built. But what is best of all, at least for this trip, is that it works pretty consistently across the two devices I have with me.

So for the next ten days, I’m going to get very familiar with what Things can do for me on the devices I have with me, so I can drop my need for further development of those features in my custom tool. Unless there is a compelling reason to duplicate what Things does, I’ll just keep using it as my tool of choice.

What does this mean for my business startup? Haven’t I just killed off one of the reasons people would want to buy what I hope to be selling by the end of the year?

Well, I think it might actually improve the functionality and features of my tool, because I can provide a solution to the problems people start to run into when they’ve gotten into the GTD mindset using a tool like Things.

I want to go beyond Getting Things Done and Things. Some conversations I’ve had with people on this trip convince me there is a need for what I could offer, even if the marketplace doesn’t recognize what I do as a segment. That gives me a little more time to figure out how it will all work, and gives me a way to get people oriented before I invite them to be partners.

How would I do that, you ask? I get them to start using Things themselves. If they need a little help, I can offer a booklet or some blog posts that will get them started. If they aren’t willing to do that work first, then there is no point in me spending time holding their hands.

If that sounds like a counterproductive business practice, I guess I will have to figure out how to soften it, without giving in to those who aren’t ready to work harder than they’ve ever worked before. I expect to raise the bar higher than most people will be able to see, but I know that won’t win me any friends. There may be five or six brochures people need to go through to be ready to even talk to me. If they haven’t done their homework, I don’t know that they are ready to going farther. I’m willing to reach back to the person behind me and offer them a rope to pull themselves up closer to where I am, but they have to pull themselves up on their own.

And if they think they are going to find someone who has mastered everything I want to do, they better come back and read this post. I am doing the same things they are doing. The gremlins I’m trying to conquer are just as tough as the ones they have to deal with. They might think some of my gremlins are trivial, or not even see them as problems. But the things that are holding me back are still there, and I need to figure out how to move past them.

We all want to make progress and move on to the next stage of our lives. I just happen to be one of those people who wants to move farther and faster. I’m happy to help others who want to join me, but I’m going to expect them to work as hard as I am working. If they’ve mastered things I haven’t, they can coach me. If I’ve mastered things they don’t know they need to learn, I can coach them. But they’ll have to do the work.

Nothing ever comes cheap in this world. There are no shortcuts that don’t turn out to be detours later. The reason people get what they really want is that they work harder at it than anyone around them. Luck plays very little role in it. If it looks like luck, it is usually because you never saw what they were doing for five or six or seventeen years before their success.

I’ve been working on this dream for at least 10 years, maybe 15. I saw pieces of what I know how to build when I was in a zone back in 1979. I feel a little like I’m close to that zone again. I was working with four or five other people on a large system conversion, something I managed to understand and actually build 80% of by myself. The other people built the rest. My part was the complex part, and it worked for our customer for the better part of 25 years. Some of those ideas, about interchangeable components, are part of what I hope to build. But that won’t be what makes it possible to change the world.

The world will change because a few of us will see how really disciplined people can pool their differences to solve problems other people think are impossible. We might feel the same way about those problems when we start off, but in a very short time we will discover impossible is just a nice place to find interesting problems that can be solved with hard work.

And finding people who are willing to put in three months working with a tool like Things to get their own personal discipline established will mean we can put together teams that don’t typically exist in business. What’s more, those teams might not be in the same physical location.

It’s late and I’m tired, so I think I better stop leave the details for another time. I have plenty of issues to work out myself, but I think I have some ideas about what I want to ask of others.

Come back later if you want to find out more. I’ll probably add a new thread to this blog and put the “brochures” over there. It will help if you are a Mac person, but an iPhone or iPad would also be enough. All you will need is your own copy of Things.

If you are willing to invest a few dollars in your future, I’m willing to share some hints about what I think we could do together. If anyone is actually out there reading this, post a comment and we can talk. It could be really fun and eventually quite profitable for us, even if all we do is get better at what we currently know is possible.

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