Productivity with OmniFocus and DEVONthink Pro 2 October 4, 2009Posted by judismith in Automator, DEVONthink, Email, Interoperability, Macintosh OS X, OmniFocus, Productivity Tools.
I’ve just spent the weekend tweaking my workflow to deal with the over abundance of information that my job generates. OmniFocus is my key app since that’s where I keep all my tasks.
To complete the picture, I started comparing all of my information managers – Yojimbo, Evernote, DevonThink Pro and even the good old OS X Finder. Then I ran across a brilliant workflow by Rob Trew on the Devon Technologies Forums. As Rob puts it, verbs are maintained in OmniFocus and nouns are kept in DEVONthink Pro. He’s written some very nice AppleScripts to facilitate the workflow between these two apps. One script will create a matching project in DEVONthink for the project in OmniFocus. Another creates an OmniOutliner file in the DEVONthink project as a notes document. There’s another script to archive the project out of OmniFocus and into DEVONthink when its done. I encourage you to read Rob’s post and visit his website.
In working through that process, I discovered that in addition to Rob’s scripts I needed a few other things. My workflow involves scanning documents into DEVONthink since it does optical character recognition, making the resulting PDF searchable. After I scan the document, I need to create a task in OmniFocus to ensure that I don’t forget what I was supposed to do with that document. So I wrote this script that will create an OmniFocus task in the Inbox from a document record.
One other thing I needed to adjust is that I get a lot of information via email. If it is a task, no problem. I can use the OmniFocus clipping service and a new task is created with an attachments and the email text. The problem is when I have a document that I need to store as part of a project in DEVONthink. So I created this Automater Service (works on Snow Leopard, not sure about anything earlier) to grab the attachments from an email and create new records in the DEVONthink Inbox. It will also snag the email text and include that as a comment on the document record in DEVONthink. The Automator Service uses a Run AppleScript Action for the bulk of the work. So you should be able to edit it to your needs.
That pretty much settled it for me – at least for this month. I’m still holding out for the super automated task manager. Check back. I’ll let you know when I find it. Until then, OmniFocus and DEVONthink Pro with AppleScript come pretty close.
UPDATE: I’ve updated the Automator Service to add the URL for the Mail message to the DEVONthink Pro record so you can get back to the email message that had the attachment. The updated service is found here.
Information Organizers for the Mac November 20, 2007Posted by judismith in Macintosh OS X, Productivity Tools.
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In my job I have to do a lot of research and I usually have multiple simultaneous projects. What this means is that when I come across information that I need, I have to store it in a way that I can reliably find it later. Storing is not the hard part, finding it later is.
If you are like me and tend to gather gigabytes worth of information on almost a daily basis, you know the struggle of keeping it all organized. There are numerous information organizers that take different approaches to keeping your bits of information organized. I have tried a number of them: DEVONthink Pro, Circus Ponies’ Notebook, Bare Bones Software’s Yojimbo, Chronos’ SOHO Notes, and Journler.
For me the key feature of an organizer is that I need it to be present without being intrusive. Syncing ranks fairly high on the needed features since I work across multiple Macs. Finally, it must be easy to gather, categorize, search and retrieve information. I don’t ask for much.
DEVONthink Pro, for me is the least intuitive for collecting information. It does have great integration with the OS and has scripts everywhere you look. There are lots of really nice features like updating the content in your database from the file system or the web. It also has quite a number of ways to view your information, search, index and so on. If you are a professional researcher, this is the tool to get. However, there is no sync and it is the most expensive of the lot.
Notebook, by Circus Ponies, takes a page approach to storing information, just like a spiral bound notebook. This is a great little app and one that I used for about two years. I really liked the way it handles media of all sorts. One of my requirements is to know the page where I clipped a particular bit of information. Notebook captures those URLs. In the end, I found the page metaphor too limiting.
Yojimbo is a sleek, pretty, and very functional application. I love the little Drop Dock panel that sits at the side of your monitor. There is good OS integration with scripting support and a Quicksilver plugin – yes for me Quicksilver is a necessary part of the Mac OS. Best of all Yojimbo uses .Mac syncing. The bad news is that in Yojimbo you cannot have nested folders. They say that this is due to their strategy of using tags. That would be find, except the ability to add tags at the point of information capture, such as dragging to the drop dock or capturing information with the Quicksilver plugin, is missing.
SOHO Notes has all of the great features of Yojimbo, but in fact too many great features. SOHO notes just adds way too many things that I don’t think I would ever use. This makes the application cluttered. On the good side, information capture is easy at every point. There is the ability to have nested folders, to sync with .Mac and they also have a drop dock implementation. They go one better than Yojimbo in that their drop dock works even when SOHO Notes is not running.
Finally there is Journler. Journler takes aunique approach. It is more of a writing application that also allows me to store reference material. Journler makes it easy to acquire and interact with my reference material. In fact it assumes I am going to write something about items I enter so it creates a blank journal entry that the reference item is attached to. You can have multiple reference items per entry. It couldhave much better OS integration. While it does have good scripting support, at the moment there are a dearth of scripts. I like the iLife integration – as someone quipped, “Journler is like iLife for your writing”. Journler also has a great price and licensing strategy – if you are making money with it pay for it, otherwise its free to use. The biggest drawback for Journler is that it does not sync.
Overall, Journler tends to fit the way I need to research and write at the moment. If I have to get more serious about this researching and writing thing, I’ll probably look at DEVONthink Pro and just do all of my research work on my laptop.
“Sync” Journler across Macs with Automator November 20, 2007Posted by judismith in Automator, Productivity Tools.
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A possible way to perform something similar to a sync using iDisk or some other storage is to create two Automator actions.
1) Quit Journler Automator Application This workflow has three actions
a) Quit Application – Journler
b) Get Selected Finder Items – select your Journler folder
c) Copy Finder Items – in the to box, select the place on your iDisk or USB stick where you would like to store your Journler folder. Make sure you select “Replace existing files”
Save this as an application. Drop it in the ~/Library/Scripts/Journler folder.
2) Launch Journler Automator Application This workflow has three actions
a) Get Selected Finder Items – Select the Journler folder on your iDisk or USB stick.
b) Copy Finder Items – in the to box, select the containing folder of your original Journler folder (you are overwriting the whole Journler folder).
c) Launch Application – Journler, Save this as an application and put it in your Dock in place of the original Journler Icon.
How this works: When you are quitting Journler and you want to send your files to the sync location (iDisk or USB Stick) instead of Cmd-Q or Journler -> Quit, you select the Scripts menu and then the Quit Journler application that you just created. This application copies the whole Journler file to your sync location.
Then when you Launch Journler, you use the newly created application that first copies the the updated Journler folder from your sync location to your default location. Then it launches Journler and you have all of your updated files.
For me its a little easier than having to remember to drag over the folder. I also dress up my Launch Journler action with the Journler icon so it looks nice in the Dock.
Get the most from Jott using Jawbone October 5, 2007Posted by judismith in Jott, Productivity Tools, Remember the Milk.
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In my previous post I wrote about being productive from your car by using your cell phone and Jott. One thing that will make using Jott in your car much easier is the Jawbone Bluetooth headset.
I have conversations on my cell phone while driving my TT Roadster with the top down. Previously I could hardly hear the other party let alone have a conversation. Now I can Jott and have conversations driving with the top down. This headset really does work as advertised.
Phone in Your Tasks to Remember The Milk with Jott October 4, 2007Posted by judismith in Jott, Productivity Tools, Remember the Milk.
Tags: Jott, Productivity, Remember the Milk, RTM, tasks
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Remember the Milk is the very popular online to do application. With Remember the Milk you can manage your tasks online and from anywhere with your internet enabled mobile phone. I’ve previously written about how to use Twitter and Quicksilver to add tasks to your RTM inbox.
Today I was introduced to an amazing and free service called Jott. With Jott, you call a toll free number and you navigate a very simple menu by voice to leave a message to one of the contacts that you have added to Jott. Jott then transcribes the message to text and emails it.
So you can see where this is going. If you are a RTM customer, you have an email address where you can send tasks to your inbox. To find this email address if you don’t already have it handy, log in to RTM and at the top menu click on Settings, then click on the Info tab. There you will see your unique email addresses, iCalendar feeds and Atom feed addresses.
Take your Remember the Milk inbox email address and add Remember the Milk as a contact in your Jott account. Call the Jott toll free number, select your Remember the Milk contact, speak your task reminder, and voila! you have a new task created in RTM without typing a single stroke.
You can use Jott to send emails via phone call to any number of contacts and even groups. Drive time is getting more productive all the time. Take a look at how it works:
The Best Mac Tools September 15, 2006Posted by judismith in Macintosh OS X, Productivity Tools.
Recently I’ve been in this mode of acquiring all of these great, little Mac productivity tools. It all started when I started watching the MacBreak video podcast. Those shows started introducing me to some really great tools. The best thing is that these tools are either free or really cheap – if you think about what you are getting for the money.
Today I’m going to give you my list of favorite tools (so far), tell you a little bit about them and tell you where to find them. In future posts I will go through some of them in more detail.
AddressX – syncs Address Book with your Exchange Global Address Book
Adium – Instant messaging client with a very Mac-like feel
GroupCal – Syncs your iCal calendars & tasks with your Exchange account
iSquint – great little video conversion tool to get videos into iTunes or your iPod
kGTD – an organizational system for Getting Things Done that integrates with Omni Outliner Pro. An amazing and FREE tool.
Little Snitch – monitors what programs on your Mac are trying to access the network. Very handy to make sure that you don’t have any spyware, keyloggers or trojans sending out your personal information.
MailActOn – indispensable tool for creating very complex rules in Mail 2.0
MailTags 2.0 – allows you to add tags to your email messages, search on those tags in Mail, associate emails with projects, create iCal tasks from messages and more.
Merlin – the premiere project management tool on the Mac
Notebook – if you do research, this is the tool to have. Clip items from the web, add Word, PDF and many other types of documents, collect media and just about anything else in one place organized the way you want it.
Parallels – the best virtual machine out there. If you have to use Windows for work fairly regularly this is the tool. No reboots necessary.
QuickSilver – I don’t know how I navigated my Mac before I got this. Just hold dow the control key and press the space bar. Then begin typing the name of the thing you are looking for. Press enter to launch. Its like Spotlight on steroids.
RemoteBuddy – I wondered why my Mac came with a remote if all I could do was control Front Row and iTunes. Enter RemoteBuddy. Now you can control most anything on your Mac with the supplied remote.
Renamer4Mac – Sometimes you have to rename a bunch of files. For example to move a bunch of files to a Windows machine, you may want to add the .xxx extension so Windows can recognize them. Renamer4Mac comes to the rescue here. It’s better than Automater for this task and I will tell you why.
Wallet – Being an IT professional, I have a lot of passwords. I also have a lot of serial numbers, credit card numbers and other data that I would like to keep secure. Wallet is the answer for securely storing all of those things and freeing your mind for more important information. In addition, Wallet will help you pick secure passwords. It will even automate the entry of the passwords into web pages so you don’t have to cut and paste. It also comes with a dashboard widget.
While I am an IT professional and I work in a Windows world, I use a Mac because it allows me to be so much more productive. The availability of these tools allows me to go to the next level. Check them out if you get a chance. I’ll be writing more on most them in the coming days.