Friday, March 31, 2006

How RM Has Changed The Way I Work . . . So Far

Prior to ResultsManager, I used to leave key maps open when I shutdown MindManager for the night.


Because when I fired the app up the next morning, those maps served as a "tickler" to remind me that there was something important in those maps that I still needed to complete. When I saw the map open, that was a visual reminder of what needed to be done next.

That, along with the combo of MindManager's Topic Alerts and Outlook Reminders usually kept me from dropping anything important.

Now, after nearly two weeks with ResultsManager, I've quit doing that.

ResultsManager (so far) has given me the peace of mind and has proven itself over and over that it's going to sweep up and catch action items, sub-projects and projects that may have escaped the attention of my distracted mind.

Now, I only leave 2 maps open -- my Map Central, the universe of my life, and the most recent dashboard.

And just recently I even started not opening Map Central every day. Everything I need to focus upon is in that dashboard, so why bother?

P.S. - 3 more uber-maps have bit the dust!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

More Coolness Of The Week

And then ResultsManager cranks it up a notch, into a definitive "but wait, there's more!" moment.

Not only can you send changes back to their original maps (for meore detail see yesteday's post), you can add project, sub-projects and action items directly into the dashboard and send those changes back to their originating maps.

That's cool. This is even cooler: let's say you added a project into the dashboard you're working off of. When you click Send Dashboard Changes -- ResultsManager adds it to the appropriate map.

But what if it's not already attached to a map? No problem. The app politely asks which map to attach it to, or if you want to create new map altogether.

You gotta love British reserve and ingenuity. It's kept us loving the James Bond flicks for over 40 years.

Can you give me 'nother Pretty. Damn. Sweet?

"Hoo-rah, Pretty. Damn. Sweet., sir!"

Ahem ... at ease, soldier.

I've just officially moved from liking ResultsManager to loving it. And it's okay to love ResultsManager as long as you don't love ResultsManager.

Nudge. Wink. Send.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"I'm Ready For My Weekly Review, Mr. Allen!" or . . .

"How I Found The Coolness Of The Week"


I found the heart and soul of ResultsManager. This is the height of automating tedious, repetitious tasks, so I can spend more time taking action and less time moving data bits around.

Now keep in mind, this is just my opinion. Whether it actually is the heart and soul of the app or not, this does not represent Gyronix's position.

Just mine.

And it doesn't mean when I find more really great features about ResultsManager, that I won't be crowing about them being the new heart and soul.

But for now, it's this beauty: any changes you make in a generated dashboard will be sent back to those tasks in their original maps. You can change the dates, change the wording, change the icons -- anything at all.

Pretty. Damn. Sweet.

Now, I already knew that by changing the completion level of the dashboard's task icons, ResultsManager sent those changes back to their originating maps.

And let's face it, it's tedious to uncover a bunch of overdue items after a dashboard sweep-up.

I would click on the overdue item's link, which opened up the original map and then make the changes to the project information there. After I traced all the links back to their original maps, and made the changes, I re-ran the dashboard.

So each time I ran a weekly review dashboard, it was taking me 30 to 45 minutes to process those overdue items.

With me so far?

Like I said at the top, it occurred to me that I might be able to change the Task Info dates in the dashboard and then once I was done, click on the Send Dashboard Changes command and send all the changes back to all the individual maps en mass with a single click of a button.

And if I could do that, then I could probably save myself a lot of time, right?

Because being able to modify the task information **within** the dashboard and sending the changes out to all the originating maps is hugely time-saving. And I'm happy to say it works exactly like that.

I think I'm liking this software a lot! Alas, I can feel my skeptical resolve waning.

Btw, since I brought it up earlier, for those of you who are ResultsManager users, what do you think the heart and soul of the app is?

And the folks at Gyronix, what do you think is the heart and soul of your product?

P.S. - I just discovered something about the above that takes automation to a whole new level. It's too late to blog about it tonight, so I'll make sure and post it tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I'm starting to see how ResultsManager is impacting the way I think. I'm definitely seeing how it's impacting the way I work. So, I'm thinking about adopting this as my new attitude for effective project management:

"If it's not in ResultsManager, it doesn't exist."

What do you think? Too draconian?

While I can appreciate that while the above attitude may appear, on its surface, extreme -- you have to admit that it could certainly solve more problems than it causes.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

What say you?

Project Management: Best Practices With ResultsManager

When you start the ResultsManager wizard (appropriately called "ResultsMerlin"), it asks you to create a Map Central and maps for Personal and Professional areas of your life. You don't have to, but I can tell that after trying out ResultsManager three times -- it really is "best practices" to do it their way.

And today . . . another uber-map bit the dust, thanks to ResultsManager. That's kinda beside the point, but I wanted to crow about it anyway.

No longer is it an orphaned, bloated storage map crammed with forgotten and half-remembered tasks, but filled with the best of intentions.


Now, it's in my ResultsManager system and most importantly, it is *accounted for and in my schedule.

When I used ResultsManager's "Sweep-Up" dashboard, I found this MindManager version of the Island Of Misfit Toys. Only in my case, it's more like the Archipelago Of Misfit Toys.

But I'll assimilate them one gulag at a time, okay? I can hear the Wicked Witch cackling, "I'll get you my pretties! You and your little Solzhenitsyn, too!"

Okay ... I'll quit mixing my metaphors ... for now, anyway.

So I gritted my teeth, girded my loins, put my game face on and set about assimilating all of misfit projects, sub-projects and tasks into existing project maps, or I created new maps and linked up to others, where appropriate.

Then I did a review to get a weekly overview of the upcoming week. And once I made a few adjustments to items I missed ... actually, I can't take credit for finding them. Den Mother ResultsManager found them and put them into a map area "Overdue Items."

Now, this is where the rubber meets the road -- where do I put the Personal projects items that have been hiding out in my Uber-Maps Of Misfit Tasks?

Dump them all into the Personal projects maps? Ugh. Smells too much like another uber-map to me.

Hmm. There must be an ResultsManager-based solution to this.

Anyone else out there faced with this problem?

Sing out! Might be nice if the folks at Gyronix chimed in on this, too.

Monday, March 27, 2006

How To Never Lose Another Project Or Task Again

Actually, the I part doesn't really enter into it. Looks like ResultsManager has now taken control of my project management and is determined to keep all my overdue projects, sub-projects and tasks in my face until I complete them or account for them in some way.

The auacity ... the gall ... the noive! (use the Bugs Bunny voice for the last one)

Using ResultsManager has taught me something about how I manage my workflow. I tend to schedule far too much to do an amount of time I have to do it. So what am I left with if I'm not careful?

A lot of overdue task and deadlines.

A lot of overdue task and deadlines it's not going to let me forget until I do something with them.

Grrrrr . . .

Seriously, I am loving the way ResultsManager catches every single one of those overdue items and creates its own area in the dashboard to account for them. It does this on the Review and Sweep-up dashboards.

Probably does so on other dashboards as well and I just haven't got that far yet.

And just to add cherry on top of the urgency theme, the Overdue topic area that it sweeps them all into has a large red alarm bell image stuck to it.

Thanks guys. Let's not put too fine a point on it, eh?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Rise And Fall Of The Uber-Maps -- The Conclusion

Since getting MindManager back in the X5 days, I've created many "uber-maps." Here's the story of the most recent (and final) one:

Inspired by the swell of the new year . . . new beginnings . . . I set my goals for the year, only this time I used a mindmap. I grandly called this one the "2006 Goal Achievement Map." And this time, I swore it was going to be different.

Now here's something you only learn from experience.

Uber-maps are like gremlins. Like in the movie "Gremlins." As you'll recall, the gremlins were innocent and cuddly . . . 'til you got water on them.

Uber-maps start out innocently and with the best of intentions -- until you start using them.

Then it gets ugly.

Then they bite you in the ass.

But no! This time I was really going to adhere to the discipline of only putting links in the 2006 map that tracked back to their original project, sub-project or action items.

That way, when I opened my "2006 Goal Achievement Map" (you have to say it out loud and grandly to get the full effect), I would only see the things that needed my attention, with links back to the original project maps for fuller detail and context.

Yep. My resolve was firm. I had learned my lesson on the previous maps and this time was going to be different (yeah, yeah quit laughing, smartass).

As you probably guessed, it was different. But only for a little while.

Soon . . . all too soon, it started to collapse under the weight of it's non-functionality. Which is a fancy way of saying it went the way of all uber-maps -- they became storage maps and eventually I created other maps to do the job the uber-map was supposed to do.

And that realization felt too much like the one that yielded the benzene molecule.

Unwittingly, I was continuously creating and re-creating the poor man's ResultsManager.

I was coming to the realization that if I didn't start using ResultsManager (or something like it), I'd be forced to keep coming up with something like it in order to get all my urgent to-do's in front of me and keep them there until the tasks were completed.

Now you're probably wondering just what kind of nitwit keeps doing something that doesn't work? Why didn’t I just buy ResultsManager?

Well, as detailed previously, I wasn't able to vet it to my satisfaction. And that, my friend, weak though it sounds, is the strongest defense I can make for feeble thinking.

Again, it's the devil know vs. unknown conundrum.

Sure, the old way wasn't working. But at least I knew how to cope and I knew where it didn't work and how to patch my way around it.

But new software? Automating my project management? Turning over that kind of control and power over my professional life? Yikes!

Too unproven, too unknown to risk several businesses on.

Or so I thought . . .

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Rise And Fall Of The Uber-Maps

It's been pointed out to me that not everyone knows what an "uber-map" is.

An uber-map is a creation of extreme desperation. Using MindManager as your mapping platform, you decide that you're going to keep all the tasks you must track all in front of you . . . and all in one map.

Looks good in the showroom, runs badly on the street.

Uber-maps are a good idea when the projects and tasks you're managing are very small. And that's when you fool yourself into thinking they're working, while the maps and projects remain small and few.

Before long, you can't even track information on it. The map has become so crammed with , projects, to-do items and appointments and number one priorities, that choosing the next critical task is like trying to spot someone frantically waving at you from a writhing mosh pit.

Can’t be done.

But what most of us have discovered is that in a very short period of time, it becomes unwieldy and out-of-control and you're back to square one with the original problem -- how to keep what you need to monitor in front of you at all times?

Sleekly and elegantly?

And dare I ask -- automatedly?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Third Trip To The Altar ... The Conclusion

So each time after the trial period expired, I resumed my project management using MindManager's filtering system and topic alerts in conjunction with Outlook. But I couldn't stop that nagging feeling in the back of mind that I'd missed the boat in a very critical way.

Meanwhile, I flirted with other project/time management systems: Tony Robbins' RPM system, Franklin-Covey, the Mission Control system, even gave Microsoft Project a whirl. They all blur together in retrospect.

I was desperate for an automated, systematized way of tracking and managing multiple projects using MindManager as the platform.

But all of them failed at this critical point: they weren't software solutions. They weren't automated solutions. They were paper-based. So it was back to the old pastiche -- uber-maps, filtering, topic alerts and Outlook.

But . . . but . . . that ResultsManager thing, the little voice would nag at me.

It was automated.

It was a software solution that was scalable for professional and personal uses.

It was never a bastardized port from paper to software. It was designed to take full advantage of a mind map and turn it from a visual representation of information, to an actual productivity tool.

Why in the hell couldn't I make it work?

So here I am . . . again. Once more succumbing to the voice in my head. Comforting, eh?

Well ResultsManager has 28 days to prove itself. If it works even half as good as advertised, then I'm sold. If not . . . back to another iteration of the uber-map system.

So . . . here we go -- once more into the breech, dear friends. It's downloaded, installed and I've run some tentative tests.

Did it blow up? Did it do what it claims to do? Does the hype match the results? Is it "all that and a box of chocolates?"

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Third Trip To The Altar ... Part 3

So what happened the other two times I trialed ResultsManager?

I'll share the blame with Gyronix. I'm sure they give a time limit of 28 days for very good reasons. After all, I wouldn't think a 90 day trial would be reasonable by any stretch of imagination.

However, for busy professionals, I don't think 28 days is enough time to thoroughly vet the software before tossing whatever your old system was for the promises of their new and unproven ('til you use it) system.

And that's what we're really talking about here -- a sane, transitioning process from the old, inefficient system to the new, unknown, unproven one. Easy enough if you're a student in school or you're using ResultsManager as a life balance tool. If it drops a task and you're unprepared for a test or forget to turn in your homework, no big deal. You can make them up.

But when your companies are dependent on keeping all the plates spinning in this little sideshow -- forgetting about that one in the back can cost you a client and big bucks.

So that's where I hold them partially responsible. I'm also to blame because I wasn't able to devote sufficient time out of my schedule to test out their "Dynamic Planning System" and give it a fair shake.

Days and weeks would go by in between times when I could afford to spike down into it.

Now, in all fairness, in each of the other two times when I contacted them, the folks at Gyronix were quite understanding and allowed me to extend my trial once by an additional 15 days and another by 45 days.

I imagine the 45 day extension (73 days altogether) would have been enough time if it hadn't come at a time when one of my companies just took off and for several months I was working so much that I barely slept and my girlfriend claimed she hardly saw me anymore.

So I was caught betwixt & b'tween.

Not wanting (or willing) to get go of the old uncomfortable ways, but not fully trusting the ResultsManager software. Thousands of dollars were on the line. My livelihood hung in the balance.

What the hell was I thinking?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Third Trip To The Altar ... Part 2

Right now I'm using MindManager as my operational platform for tracking and managing the myriad projects I have going on in my life. I've just added the trial of ResultsManager to avoid yet another uber-map collapse.

See, I've been using MindManager to keep track of all the projects and their action items. I'm a professional copywriter (as opposed to the starving kind), which is just one of my companies. And I've been using the "uber-map" approach in conjunction with Microsoft's OneNote to store content and link to those "sections" in my OneNote "notebook" via my maps.

Prior to running the trial of ResultsManager, I had been using the clumsy task tracking tools MindManager already has and then filtered according to selected criteria.

That's been time-consuming and clumsy and I've hated every moment doing it. And to further ensure I didn’t drop anything important, I was using MindManager's Topic Alerts sync'd with my Outlook calendar to manage my uber-maps. Ugh.

Awkward, frustrating and inefficient as hell. If you're thinking my Tower of Babel was threatening to go the way of London Bridge -- you've got the right picture and I was constantly stressed because of it.

So why am I telling you all this? Because I want to pull back the curtain and show you that however frustrating your current project tracking system is, it's probably just as inefficient as mine. At least we share one thing in common, we're managing our workflows the hard way.

Plus, I wished someone out there had done something like this when I was kicking the tires on ResultsManager. I've got no problem with the price tag. It's the cost in dropped action items and delayed projects I'm worried about.

But remember, this is my third time giving ResultsManager a shot. What happened the other times? Why in the world would Gyronix give me three shots at their product? And why did I keep coming back to ResultsManager? Wasn't there other software out there that could do the job?

The answers will surprise you.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Third Trip To The Altar ...

... with the ResultsManager software. Once again I'm attempting to tame the controlled chaos of my projectmanagement system and learn the "Gyronix Dynamic Planning System" without dropping any projects and hopefully,without costing me any money.

I'm gonna be really PO'd if adopting their "system" costs me a project or client.

It had better be worth it because this is my last flirtation with it. Either it proves itself or I'm gone forgood. And I'm really putting my ass on the line, because in one of those moments of questionable intelligencethat "seemed like a good idea at the time," I had the brilliant idea of doing this on the public stage.

The idea was that if I put my butt on the line, I would be forced to follow-through in a timely manner (28 days,remember?) because otherwise, the public humiliation would be too great.

Whether ResultsManager proved to bebetter marketing than product, or I proved to be dense beyond words -- or a combination of all the above--everyone is going to know about it.

Colleagues. Adversaries. Prospects. Clients.

So as you can see, I literally cannot afford to do this half-assed.

Like I said, seemed like a good idea at the time. I suspect I'm not the first to utter those famous last words.

Next up, I'll tell you a bit about how I was doing project management pre-ResultsManager. One request, though. .. no laughing, okay?

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Pi of The Sopranos, Teri Hatcher & ResultsManager

What do they have in common?

One's a big hit show that everyone's heard of.

One's a hit actress who brings star power to any series she's in (no matter how mediocre it is).

And one's the time management and productivity software that no one's heard of, called ResultsManager. What does it do? It takes the project, sub-project and action items scattered across multiple mind maps and puts them into a single "dashboard" map arranged in whatever context you desire.

Sounds pretty handy. But then everything looks good on paper, doesn't it? Real life practical application often produces different results.

But just like pi, which is always the same number -- The Sopranos, Hatcher and ResultsManager are always stars. Well, the first two are anyway. I suspect that latter aspires to be.

I mean, the first two's star status is pretty indisputable, as far as pop culture is concerned. But the last? Jury's still out. Ultimately, it may not prove to have so much in common with pi after all.

Time will tell. It always does.

So what does ResultsManager have to do with all this? Plenty. From what I've read online, if you're a user you're hooked for life. Those who've braved the initial learning curve of ResultsManager swear by it and would rather part with their first-born than use something else.

That kind of fanaticism is a bit daunting. Maybe it's warranted. Maybe it's not. And talking to some users, it's not true that you have to be a David Allen, Getting Things Done disciple to get the most out of ResultsManager, either.

Either way, I intend to find out for myself and I'm inviting you to come along.

For the next 28 days you'll be shoulder-surfing with me as I put ResultsManager through it's paces. I'm an entrepreneur running 3 companies using MindManager as the platform and a couple of other programs. And that's pretty heavy lifting for any project tracking software.

So if ResultsManager is going to break, then I'm going to break it and then I'm going to tell you how I broke it.

And frankly, I'm so fed up with all the fancy promises the bloatware that masquerades as software productivity tools, that I'm ready to let this app have it square between the eyes.

Conversely, and in all fairness, if it significantly saves me in time, money and productivity gains -- I'm gonna buy it at the end of the trial and sing it's praises from the rooftops.

But . . . it's already starting out behind the eight-ball as far as I'm concerned. This is, after all, my third time to the altar with ResultsManager. But more on that in a later post.

Join me over the next 28 days (the length of the ResultsManager trial period) as I do my damnedest to break it and make it whimper. Will it save me time, make me more money and make me Productivity God?

It had better. Otherwise, "It's as useless as tits on a boar," as my father used to say.