Great personal productivity concepts here!

Just by chance I came across a vision document for the Chandler open source Personal Information Management (PIM) client application which has a very innovative design and ambitious plans for sharing, extensibility and cross-platform support.  Even if you have no interest in Chandler as a product I recommend you have a read because it includes some really useful concepts that might help you assess the capabilities of alternative products.  Take this extract as an example:

Who says that the lines between emails, events and tasks are clear? Users need to manage their information according to project, not according to application. Chandler offers heterogeneous collections, able to contain any kind of Chandler item as well as resources that might otherwise live in random places in the file system. Naturally, searches can also cover all application areas at once or alternately be limited to specific kinds of items.

More subtly, we believe it’s powerful to allow users to not only put their peanut butter and chocolate in the same cupboard, but also to mix their peanut butter and chocolate together in the same item. We call this stamping, as in “I want to stamp this note as a message” or “I want to stamp this message as a task”. The user adds email-ness or task-ness to the pre-existing item without creating a separate item. Consider some of the possible use cases for this:

  • An incoming email leads to an ill-defined task. Rather than have to create a task and try to decide exactly what it is and what to call it, just stamp the email as a task to be sure to come back to it later.
  • A co-worker has to be notified about an upcoming event. Rather than create a mail and give it a subject then copy information from the event to the email, just stamp the event as a message and fill in the “To” field.

Stamping replaces the flagging feature that traditional email clients often support. Flagging is tantalizingly close to being useful for many people but lacks the ability to define due dates or detail to explain why something was flagged. Since stamping an email as a task is just one click, it’s as easy as flagging and doesn’t force a series of decisons. All the user has to know is that there is probably something to do, sometime, and stamp as task. Later the user can remove the task stamp, assign a date, or add more details to the description of what has to be done.

The image in the sidebar shows an event that was stamped as an email, adding “to” and “from” fields but keeping the same subject, body, and all the event attributes.

Some of these ideas seem to have found their way into Notes Hanover and it’s activity explorer.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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