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Eisenhower MethodSo whose idea was this method of categorizing tasks?!

The method of categorizing tasks depending on their urgency or importance is attributed to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and as such is commonly known as the Eisenhower Matrix or the Eisenhower Method (Wikipedia Link - http://j.mp/zSN4Jt

President Eisenhower reportedly used this method of thinking to make critical decisions when he was a General during war time by asking himself 2 questions: 

Eisenhower Matrix1. Is this task or question Urgent? - does it have time pressure?

2. Is this task or question Important? - how does this relate to your objectives?

By answering these two questions all tasks can be plotted on a 4 square Eisenhower Matrix.

Eisenhower’s famous quote “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important” perfectly sums up this way of thinking and planning. 

This organizational method is now very popular around the world and is used by huge numbers of people to ensure they are focusing on the right things from their Eisenhower Matrix. 

How does Any To Do fit in?

Any To Do has made it super simple to build the Eisenhower matrix into your day to day life to keep track of your priorities and ensure you focus on the important. 

How does Any To Do help? 

As an iPad and iPhone app, Any To Do is the perfect constant reminder that you need to make sure you always know what you need to work on.

Just click on your Any To Do app and check out those important and urgent tasks (or if you’re planning correctly, your important and not urgent tasks :) ) and bingo! - you’re immediately clear about what you need to start work on! What could be simpler?!

So, thank you President Eisenhower for leaving your legacy of your Eisenhower Matrix which is now known and used throughout the world as one of the most effective time management techniques to help you stay focused on the important. 

If you’d like to check out some further reading, here are a few links that you can take a look at while having a cuppa. 

Understanding the Eisenhower Matrix

http://www.infobarrel.com/Understanding_the_Eisenhower_Matrix

What is the Eisenhower Matrix? 

http://timegt.com/2010/07/14/what-is-the-eisenhower-matrix/

The Eisenhower Methodhttp://thousandinsights.wordpress.com/articles/on-productivity/the-eisenhower-method/

Originator of the urgency/importance matrix - http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=180075

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So..how did you get on?! Were your email withdrawal symptoms tough? I know mine were! I’ve heard from lots of Any To Do users who have had incredibly interesting experiences over the last week by turning off their emails! I’ll post a few of them later in the week.

For those of you who missed our last blog, ‘To email or not to email ‘, I was discussing the potential productivity benefits from turning off the auto respond on my email and instead only checking emails at 12 noon and 4pm. A very different concept to most people’s (including my own!) constant checking of emails. You can read the full article here: (http://anytodo.com/2011/12/05/to-email-or-not-to-email/)

So, what are the learnings from last week’s exercise?

Here’s a summary:

1. Firstly, nothing terrible happened even though to start with I constantly worried that something would, thinking that somehow because I was un-contactable for all of a few hours that I would miss THE most important email of my life and also miss the opportunity to respond to it. This did not happen.

2. As I was unable to do the activity that I would usually do when I got to my desk in the morning ( i.e.: check my emails) I was forced to actually think instead of do. Rather than blindly replying to emails and fire fighting every small issue that had come my way since I last checked my emails I was put in the situation where, staring at a blank screen, I had to ask the question ‘What do I need to do today? What is Urgent and Important?’. I then had to decide what my priorities for today were, and using Any To Do on my iPad (of course!) I was able to make a clear list of what my priorities were for the day. With this list in front of me and with no constant distractions and interruptions I was able to tackle those tasks straight away.

3. The third thing that happened. It actually felt good. To my amazement, by 12pm when I clicked on send and receive for the first time that morning, I had got through a big chunk of my To-Do list, much bigger than I would ever have got through before or that I had expected to get through. I was being incredibly more productive in just a few hours by making one small change. I felt good about it, I felt in control of what I was doing rather than auto responding to any email than pinged into my inbox.

4. When my emails arrived all at once, I had the realisation that many of them were completely irrelevant, for example e-zines (that I should have unsubscribed to a long time ago and which I immediately deleted when I received them), emails from my bank/mobile phone company telling me my bill was now available etc etc. I could delete these all at once instead of one at a time when they arrived in my inbox. This ‘batching’ of tasks is another concept which Tim Ferris discusses in his book ‘The 4 hour Work Week’ where he talks about the concept of batching all your admin tasks, for example, paying all your bills in one go once a month, so that you save time doing these ‘non value-add’ but essential tasks. As I found, this works very well for batch deleting emails! Instead of all these irrelevant emails interrupting my day, I was able to select all and delete them all in one go - fantastic.

So, in summary, this week’s productivity exercise has been incredibly interesting and far more rewarding and productivity-increasing than I had imagined. By taking away the stress of these constant distractions I was able to really focus on the task in hand and get those important and urgent tasks done. I even managed to get to some of my important but not urgent tasks kicked off which had been on my To-Do list for longer than they should have been. Remembering that the important but not urgent tasks are the ones which are really going to get you closer to your goals, this was a real breakthrough.

So, goodbye auto send and receive emails! I’ll most definitely be continuing with this change .. I may even give the ‘once a day’ email checking a go. Go on, be brave, give it a go – it works!

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How many of you wake up in the morning and reach for your iPhone or Blackberry to check email still barely awake? And how about when you first turn on your computer in the morning – is checking email the first thing you do? I have to admit, I’m as guilty as the next person.

But, have you ever considered how unproductive this is?!

Very easily an entire few hours can be consumed with responding to (probably not urgent not important) emails and requests from colleagues and friends rather than focusing on what the most important tasks of the day are.

Recently Atos, the French technology company, announced its plans to soon eradicate internal emails altogether within their company and replace these with collaborative and social media tools including an Atos Wiki, which allows all employees to communicate by contributing or modifying online content, and Office Communicator, the company’s online chat system which allows video conferencing, and file and application sharing. Atos has already reduced the number of internal emails by 20 percent in six months.

Thierry Breton has not sent an email in the three years since he became chairman and CEO of Atos in November 2008.
He says “We are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments and also encroaching into our personal lives,” he said in a statement when first announcing the policy in February. “At [Atos] we are taking action now to reverse this trend, just as organizations took measures to reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution.”

It is an interesting concept and one which Time Ferriss elaborates on in his bestselling book ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’.

Tim recommends reducing the number of times you check email to twice a day initially, at 12 noon and 4pm, thus ensuring that you capture the majority of important mails and respond to those if necessary (noting that often the issue will already be resolved by the time he checks the email). An auto responder informs colleagues at what times he will be checking his emails. Twice a day should then be stretched to once and day. Tim Ferriss apparently only checks his emails once a week and claims that there has never been an issue which was a result of this reduction of email checking. He says problems seem to disappear without you as the bottleneck and often nothing is ever that urgent.

It is quite easy to agree with both Thierry and Tim as the constant interruption of emails on Outlook bing in front of me and that annoying little window appears at the bottom of my screen in its own distracting way. So I’m going to take a leap of faith and give it a go – I’m going to turn my emails OFF and only check them at 12 noon and 4pm. I think the hardest part is going to be my withdrawal symptoms from not being constantly ‘online’ but I am going to give it a go for one week and track how my productivity fairs. I have the feeling I’m going to get a lot more done.. but check back in a week’s time and I’ll let you know how I get on!

Why don’t you give it a go too and let me know how survive?! I’ll post your interesting stories here next week, just drop me an email at hello@anytodo.com.

Good luck!

Source: anytodo.com
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So can an app help you achieve your goals?!

The answer is surprisingly ‘Yes’.

Let me explain how..

Achieving your goals first needs to be preceded with one important step – Deciding what those goals are. I know this might seem ridiculously simple as to not even bother noting, however surprisingly, this first step is often one which is missed out and which is key to the whole ‘Achieving your goals’ process – you need to know what those goals are before you can even begin to plan how to achieve them!

One of my favourite quotes I came across recently is ‘Goals without actions are just Dreams’

I’ll repeat that as I think it’s worthy of repeating ‘Goals without actions are just Dreams’

It’s a simple statement but one that I think hits home. So often people dream about owning a beautiful house or owning their own company or running a marathon. But if you have no actions to get yourself closer to those dreams, that is how they will stay – as Dreams.

On the other hand however, if you start to plan how you might make that dream a reality, even baby steps at a time, ( like start walking to work to going for a run at the weekend….(a few more actions)..to signing up to the New York Marathon … you get the picture!), then those dreams can start to become goals and you can focus your time and energy on taking those actions seriously so that you can own that beautiful house and can start that company.

So how does Any To Do fit in?

Time management is key to focusing your time and energy on those goals. No one has the time to do everything, your time always need to be prioritized, and some things get pushed to the side when everyday crises happen. That’s life. But in order to prevent those actions towards your goals being pushed to one side (they are your goals after all so they are Important!) it’s necessary to prioritise all those To-Dos in your life and make sure that you get those important ones done first so that if push comes to shove you’ve already got the important ones out of the way and the unimportant ones can wait.

And this is how Any To Do fits in. With Any To Do you can prioritize all those To-Dos, the personal ones, the business ones, the ‘any other’ type ones and you know exactly in one quick glance what you need to get on with first. You can start first on those important To-Dos that are the actions which will bring you closer to your goals, so you make sure that instead of taking the DVD back to the store and replying to all those emails you first make a start on that Market research you’ve been putting off which will tell you if that business idea you have might just work…

The effects are truly amazing. Give it a go and see how you get on.

Because remember, ‘Goals without actions are just Dreams’


Source: anytodo.com
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The latest version of Any To Do (version 1.12) has added some great new capabilities to the Evernote sync!

We have now configured Evernote sync to sync unlimited numbers of To-Dos. We had never imagined that users would want to sync hundreds of To-Dos but it is fantastic to see that Any To Do users are utilizing the application for professional and project management purposes! We are going to open a post on the ‘Ideas Section’ of Get Satisfaction where users can add their own posts to tell everyone how they use Any To Do. This will also help us to add great new capabilities to Any To Do.

Another great new feature is that users can now sync their To-Do Notes from Evernote to Any To Do and subsequently sync their To-Do Notes between their iPhone and iPad!

A further capability which users have requested and which has now been added is the syncing of completed To-Dos between the iPhone, iPad and Evernote so completed To-Dos are now ticked as complete on both your iPhone, iPad and Evernote account! (both Basic and Premium)

We hope the improvements will make you even more productive!

p.s. Look out more fantastic improvements very soon!

Source: anytodo.com
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That’s how the idea of Any To Do was born. And it’s been quite a journey to get to where we are now.

From the initial thought of ‘wouldn’t it be a clever idea to be able to do your lists on an iPhone app’ to the launch of Any To Do on the app store on Wednesday 14th September 2011, it’s been a roller coaster ride and a half. There’s been many late nights, many cups of tea, a serious number of skype calls (thank you Skype) and I have no idea how many emails between all the people involved in Any To Do to get it to be the great app that it is.

The simplest of things such as ‘where do you put the New To-Do’ button?’ to ‘What colours should we use?’ (hope you like our chosen colour teal btw, we’d never heard of the colour teal before now either) to the brainwave idea to use a Beaver for our app icon (the most organised and precise animal in the animal kingdom - genius!) - there have been so so many things to think about, it’s crazy. But we kept going, and I’m very glad we did. We’ve had amazing feedback from our users since we launched Any To Do and we’re thrilled that you guys are loving the app as much as we do.

We’ve also had a little help from our friends, especially on the translation of the app - thanks Stefano for your excellent Italian translation and Ruth for your perfect Spanish. One of our users has even started the translation of the app into German - thanks Momo! More languages will be on their way soon…so watch this space.

Suggestions and feedback has come flooding in and we’re making sure all of these get considered for future updates. Take a look at a few of our user’s comments on our press page.

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The Story so far.. Part 3

So, let me fill you in on how my new way of writing lists blossomed into the ultimate revolutionizer of list apps, Any To Do.

So now, I had a way of writing lists that actually worked. I got things done from my to-do list but I got the important things done and stopped ignoring that elephant in the corner which wasn’t going to go away. I was getting the to-dos done which were actually making a difference to my life. I was feeling pretty good about it.

I’d also been telling all my friends about it, which is a sure sign that something has really impressed you enough to spread the word.

At the time, I was using up lots of notebooks writing out my newly designed lists, scribbling out the completed to-dos and having to re-write my lists the next day.

That eureka moment came one day when I didn’t have my notebook with me and I wanted to write up my list for the day. I picked up my iPhone and started typing into the notes section under the headings urgent/important, urgent/not important etc. And I thought, “hey, wouldn’t it be a clever idea to be able to do your lists on an iPhone app!”

And that’s where it all began. The idea of Any To Do was born.

Read more in The Story so far.. Part 4 coming soon…

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The Story so far.. Part 2

First, I’ll give you a quick bit of background about how my new way of writing lists really did revolutionize my life.

I was doing some research for a business idea and came across a way of working called ‘First Things First’. It’s an incredibly simple, easy to implement concept which anyone can do and which produces truly incredible results straight away. I didn’t believe it at first either but stick with me.

The idea in a nutshell was to write my list in a matrix instead of in a very long single line. The only very slightly more time consuming aspect of this way of list writing was that I had to decide the following:

Is the to-do is urgent? i.e.: Does it need to be done now? Could it wait until tomorrow/next week/next year/never?
Is the to-do is important? i.e.: is it really going to make a difference to my life/work/other important aspect of my life? Or if I don’t do it or alternatively got someone else to do it would it be ok?

Generally it didn’t take more than a second to classify each of the list’s to-dos, I did really know what the urgent and/or important to-dos were, it’s just I had never thought about it before.

And so after this quick process my to-dos were perfectly laid out in 4 neat quadrants.

And now, the magic part.

Instead of scanning through my list and picking off the to-dos that I could get done straight away and tick off to make my list look shorter, I had to ignore all the quadrants apart from that one at the top left, the Urgent and Important quadrant. And because I’d just spent the time to make sure all the to-dos in this quadrant are the ones which actually have to be done now and will actually make a difference to my life/work/other important aspect of my life, i’m starting off with the to-dos that actually matter, not the quick and simple ones like ‘Buy granny a birthday card’ and ‘Take back the DVD to the rental store’. No, these ones are the ones like ‘Complete job application’ and ‘Revise for accountancy exam’.

The simple concept is ‘Eat that Frog’, i.e get those hard but probably most impactful to-dos done first and you’ll see the benefits immediately.

Give it a go, believe me, it’s scarily impressive.

Continued in The Story so far.. Part 3

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The Story so far.. Part 1

I have a confession to make. I’m an obsessive compulsive list writer.

I write lists for everything. I write lists for work, for shopping, for present ideas, for films I want to watch, for restaurants I want to go to, for new business ideas… The ‘list’ of lists is endless.

But although I might be an excellent list writer, I’m not a particularly good list ‘do-er’. I’m one of those people who scans through a list as long as my arm, which I have meticulously written and re-read to ensure I’m remembered every possible detail, and picks off the quickest and easiest to-dos first so I can tick these off from my very long list and start to make it shorter. I feel like I’m getting somewhere.

So this is how I’ve been ‘doing lists’ for as long as I have been writing lists. And in truth, it wasn’t getting me very far because the to-dos which would have made the difference to whatever aspect of my life I was focusing on weren’t the quick and easy ones which could be ticked off to make my list shorter. The to-dos would have made the difference were the exact opposite, the ones which would probably take the longest to do. So, in my list method, I never got to these!

It wasn’t until I came across a new way of writing lists, or rather a new way of organizing my life that things started to drastically improve.

This was the point at which Any To Do became a little thought of an idea.

Continued in The Story so far.. Part 2

Source: anytodo.com