Saturday, April 29, 2006

Your Loop Of Continuous Execution

Kyle McFarlin concludes his series on "Conquering Your World With ResultsManager."

You don't need to read them before reading this, but if you want to, here are his
first, second and third and fourth posts.

Take it away, Kyle:

Perhaps the greatest thing you gain by taking balanced action on Projects you deem important in your far-flung life areas is momentum. Tons of it. This cannot be overemphasized.

I know if you're in the early stages of it, you may even feel less productive than usual. Change is not easy - if it were, wouldn't everybody be doing it?

But if you can shoot your way out of hell, then think about how grand your life will be once you've gotten some momentum and generated some great results in your personal and professional areas.

Week after week, you will become faster, happier, lighter and more productive. Abraham Maslow will be grinning in his grave as you self-actualize.

Friday, April 28, 2006

How To Get Going

Kyle McFarlin continues his series on "Conquering Your World With ResultsManager."

In this post, Kyle continues building on the themes he started in his first, second and third posts.

Here, he gives you a practical tool for how to use RM as a Life Balance Tool. I did the exercise to test it out before posting. And it's . . . informative.

Take it away, Kyle:

Up until now my series of posts have been highly theoretical.

I now have a tangible instruction list for you:

1. First you'll need the demo map I created for you, so click here to get it. Next, right-click on it and select "Save a Copy". Place the copy in a folder of your choosing.

2. Open up the Review Dashboard with Areas Template map. In MindManager, go to Tools and select "Install ResultsManager Template". Once it is successfully installed, close the map.

3. Open up your Map Central. Go to File>Create ResultsManager Dashboard and under the drop down arrow select "Review Dashboard with Areas (Power User)".

Make sure the Dashboard is set to scan through all of your Map Central, and click "OK".

4. Once your Review Dashboard with Areas is Created, open up your Committed and Someday/Maybe Project lists. More than likely, all of your projects are listed under "No Area".

That's okay, it's time for you to assign an Area to each of your Projects.

5. Go ahead and add the Areas to Master Lists by using the ResultsManager Edit dialogue (Tools>ResultsManager Options) to set Areas in the dashboard map.

6. Remember to go to File>Send Dashboard Changes before you close the Review Dashboard with Areas.

7. Go back to Map Central and rerun your Review Dashboard with Areas. This time, your Projects should appear under their respective areas in Committed and Someday/Maybe Projects. It's now time for you to Review as normal and decide what you are committed to and what you are not.

If you have 2 or 3 projects you are working on which must be completed or else ... make sure they have a Priority 1 marker (the 1 icon) on the Project.

The main goal is to have a workload that is a) realistic and b) balanced.

I personally like the idea of 70% of projects being professional and 30% personal, but I'm open to your thoughts on it if you'll be open to mine.

8. Kick ass and take names during the week, and repeat the Review with Areas prioritization process one week later.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

You Are Rome

Kyle McFarlin continues his series on "Conquering Your World With ResultsManager." In this post, Kyle builds on the themes he started in his first post and his second post. Here, he uses the metaphor of the greatest empire in history to show you how to become what you want to be using RM.

Take it away, Kyle:

Essentially, you are Rome, the conscious nerve center of your very own empire.

And I don't care if you're a hundredaire or a millionaire: you are your own empire that must be ruled from within or will be conquered from without.

In essence, bringing a project or area of your life into MindManager and ResultsManager is very similar to the Roman conquest of a territory. By accepting Roman authority and citizenship, your life areas are incorporated into a system that will see them tracked, enhanced and evaluated.

You will also have the ability to rule the far-flung territories of your life from the safety of Rome, your conscious nerve center. And because your life areas are now ruled from the central force you have become, they now have the resources and proper oversight to become real, allowing you to reach your highest potential.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

ResultsManager Straddles Both Worlds

More of guest poster Kyle McFarlin's series "Conquering Your World With ResultsManager." In this post, Kyle builds on the theme he started yesterday.

Take it away, Kyle:

I'm going to submit something of an arbitrary thought on the balance of projects you have up in the air at any one time. I'd say that about 30% of your projects should be of a personal nature and 70% should be professional. And I've got a feeling 90+% of people disagree with me here, but luckily I'm not going for consensus ;).

I fully understand that work is where the necessities for having a personal life come from.

But likewise, the personal life is the core from which the strength to address the professional life arises. So, there are less active personal projects personal (30%) than professional (70%), but the personal core of projects are really more important, because they make the professional output possible.

The point is life is circular, and if you aren't adressing your personal areas you are continuously being bitten in the ass by personal aspects of your life you've neglected. If you let a problem with a child go for weeks or months because you were too wrapped up in professional pursuits, what might have once taken 3 hours to address could end up taking 30. And if you don't believe me, then you've never seen absent parents find out their teenager has a substance problem.

So for you hard charging types, I'm saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure in your personal life. At the end of the day, why let personal issues be blood sucking maggots to your professional pursuits when they can be the very foundation from which you spring forth to attain career greatness?!?!

Essentially, I'm implying no matter who you are, anything from a Granola Crunching Earth Mother to a 100 hour a week CEO, your personal life will call you back: you can either face it proactively or reactively. You must drive profitability not only in the professional realm but also the personal realm. And why not?

Won't it be a great day when you realize doing pushups instead of nothing makes your spouse more attracted to you, prompting an early morning 'closeness session' that drives up your endorphins, resulting in heightened brain chemistry that allows you to contribute the killer idea in the 9am meeting that gets you a promotion? Jim Collins calls it getting the "flywheel spinning" and Gandhi referred to life as "one interconnected whole".

But if you're seeing that skillful management of your personal life allows you better business results, isn't that both fun and a bit intimidating? After all, you could have a 2 or 3 year shitstorm you'll have to face in order to get back to good karma ;).

Yeah, you're going to have to shoot your way out, and no amount of technology can save you from that. However, if you're willing to embrace the culture, the technology can give you the best tactical view possible of the shootout, giving you maximum odds of achieving victory.

This Blog Has Changed

It's now "Taming Project Chaos - 28+ Days With ResultsManager." And the description has also changed to reflect the slight shift in focus:

"The verdict is in and it's Thumb's Up for ResultsManager! Continue to follow the trials and triumphs of applying Gyronix's ultimate project planning tool to straddling your personal and professional worlds."

Though it's no longer focused on just my experiences with applying RM, the new focus will feature the experiences of RM Power Users and novices alike. Plus, there will be a lot of practical Tips, Tricks & Traps that you won't find in the manual or the Help file.

Stay tuned. It's going to get even more interesting from here on out.

Family Picnic Or Billion Dollar Project?

As promised, here is the first of a series of posts from Kyle McFarlin, Gyronix's Head Trainer ("head" as in chief, not the lump above your shoulders) for integrating RM into a company's workflow.

The overall arcing theme of these posts is called "Conquer Your World with ResultsManager."

I was stunned when I first read what you're about to. His posts are so thought-provoking, so rich that I got posting envy just from reading them. They're so meaty that I was afraid readers would gloss over certain points because they were still mentally digesting something he said several sentences back.

I think they're meant to be read together, so if there's any incoherency -- mea culpa for breaking them into bitesized pieces. They're certainly cogent when read in sequence.

So here's Kyle:

The combination of MindManager and ResultsManager has an unprecedented aspect to it: it can be used as a Life Balance Tool, or used to drive billion dollar projects. Not many tools in the business or personal realms are so adaptable. Personally, the last time I had so much fun with technology was Contra on the Nintendo Entertainment System.

MindManager can be used to visualize almost any body of information, situation, project or process you desire. Then, ResultsManager can extract Project, Task and Relationship information from those visualizations: there is no restriction on the subject matter.

Now, you may think what you learn at the office can't possibly translate at home. Why not? If you're going to spend most of your waking life at work, shouldn't it sharpen you for handling the rigors of your home life? If you could go through the same logic process for a family picnic as you would a billion dollar merger, wouldn't that give you a power previousy unattainable?

If you believe in the perfect forms proposed by the ancient Greek philosophers, then it's implied there is a perfect form for project management: The Gyronix System is an early attempt at finding and taking advantage of it.

No one is saying we're there yet, but if we can vaguely see that form out in the distance and use our best artist's sketch of it for managing our most important initiatives, then it makes sense that we no longer act as though best practices at work don't apply at home and vice versa.

Universals do exist: imagine if you could use the same discipline for setting up a sales pipeline as a book of poetry.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Thumb's Up/Thumb's Down - Which Is It? Survey Says . . .

As many of you have guessed, I give ResultsManager a hearty and well-deserved Thumb's Up.

Big surprise, right?

I really did my best to be the skeptical Grand Inquisitor, I really did. But as it keep over-delivering during the last 30 days on its very understated promises -- it became more and more difficult to maintain the mien of indifference.

And by the time it got to the point of actually making me money (missed the "cheddar" post? Catch it here).

So I'll just say to again -- not for the first time and whether it's in this venue or another, certainly not the last time I'll be saying it:

"I love this product."

And even though I've already purchased ResultsManager (had to -- it was Day 28!), I've got a few things to say about my experiences.

But you probably already figured that, eh?

So what's different after 28+ days?

My business psychology has altered dramatically. Now, I'm less driven by urgency, more efficient and more often than not, I'm out ahead of projects as opposed to behind them or even abreast with them.

So if you follow the philosophies of David Allen, Tony Robbins and Stephen Covey -- I'm in The Zone, bay-bee!

And just like that short-lived HBO series "Mind Of A Married Man," in this case you got to peek inside the "Mind of a Zentrepreneur" (pithy explanation here) as I worked to apply ResultsManager into my personal and professional lives -- warts and all.

The good, the bad and the ugly . . . and you saw it all. You were there witnessing my "best of times and the worst of (my) times" moments. And with that, I think I'll cap the literary allusions at this point.

You saw it all -- the challenges of transitioning from my established way of managing project workflow (albeit inefficient, it was functional) and shoehorning ResultsManager's best practices into the current workflow without losing anything -- time or money.

I can only hope that the areas I truly gumped were ones that won't bite me in the ass someday when prospective clients are judging my work on whether I can write for them or not.

Hopefully I won't be coming to an exit ramp near you with a sign that says, "Will Write 4 Fud."

My biggest concern was if I lose valuable time, money and productivity by using ResultsManager. That it might fail in critical areas and I wouldn't see it until it was too late and I'd paid the price.

Never happened.

So I'm casting about for a word or phrase to sum up the gestalt of my experience and feelings about Gyronix's flagship product. And watching (okay, half-watching) the end of (classic) "Planet Of The Apes" reminded me of something Charlton Heston once said.

And what he said about guns, I'll say about this product (with all due respect to Chuck) and mean every word of it: "You can take ResultsManager from me when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."

I am a Results Manager.
I've got the results (and the little N.R.M.A card) to prove it.

Nudge. Wink. Send.

P.S. - Looks like Gyronix has been so pleased with this blog that they're going to continue it, in some form. My involvement is up in the air, I mean, I did what I set out to do and now other pastures beckon. It was a fun, risky experiment and I'm happy it went well without wrecking anyone's career (most notably mine).

So there's a few more posts to come from me and next up are some great posts from ResultsManager trainer Kyle McFarlin. Be prepared. I promise you that you've never read anything like what he's going to put on the table in front of you.

The In's & Out's Of The ResultsManager In-Tray

Normally I wouldn't post this here, but Gyronix's CTO Nick Duffill has given the most cogent explanation of why the ResultsManager In-Tray exists and how to optimize its usage, that I wanted to give those who aren't subscribed the opportunity to benefit from it as well.

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Nick Duffill
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 1:58 PM
Subject: [GTD_MindManager]
Re: In-tray best practice ?

Dave, Volker

The purpose of the "In-tray" or "In-box" areas of project maps is as a
temporary holding place for actions that are not integrated into their
associated project.

This differs from the "bits and pieces" map in that In-trays are specific to a project, and things in the bits & pieces map will probably never belong to a dedicated project - they just don't fit anywhere else.

The reason for the apparent complexity of the In-tray system is so that it supports the following:

(1) It displays In-trays in the Action dashboards, so that you can send a new task you just thought of straight to the in-tray of a specific project, without opening that map. You just click on the In-tray within the dashboard and insert a new activity.

(2) ResultsManager will display items sitting in In-trays in the review dashboards, so that you can see which maps need tidying as part of your review process.

Generally, you would not leave activities sitting in In-trays indefinitely. They are normally integrated into the project map (or otherwise triaged) during the review cycle. They exist only to provide a quicker way to add something to a project without navigating to the perfect spot in the project map.

I hope this helps,
best regards

Nick Duffill



For more information on using ResultsManager with the GTD principles, visit

Monday, April 24, 2006

I Nearly Torpedoed This Blog On Day 2

Some out there in the blogosphere feel that I wouldn't really say anything bad about ResultsManager, that there's some sort of secret deal I made with Gyronix, etc. You know the type? The kind that after the first verbal spew all you hear is "Blahblahblah," just like the adults in the Peanuts cartoons?

Let me tell you how I nearly torpedoed this blog on its second day. It's a cautionary tale of making sure you have interpreted the facts correctly . . .

My MindManager X6 was running fine and fast prior to installing ResultsManager. I could zip along opening maps as fast as I pleased and have as many open as possible -- right up until I installed the third (and my final) trial of ResultsManager.

Boom! Suddenly it's like being in a car and going from 60 to 0, and I face-plant on the windshield.

One moment I can rapidly open MindManager maps all over the place and the next -- literally, no joke -- I can take a shower and make coffee in the time it takes ResultsManager to load a dashboard. About half as much time to just open MindManager.

That's no exaggeration. But the problem wasn't ResultsManager. It was MindManager, as you'll see in a moment. But at the time, I didn't know that.

At day 2 I was making up my mind that, while I still thought ResultsManager was an incredibly useful tool, there was no way in hell I was gonna buy it at the end of the trial. The most likely outcome was to run through the trial and report on it, because I was sure that ResultsManager was one of the biggest frickin' memory hogs in the software industry.

Sure it was the most effectively tool, but at that time, I thought it needed some work on the memory usage end.

Livid, I emailed Nick Duffill, Gyronix's CTO and told him that his promising app just slowed my usage of MindManager to a crawl.

I lost hours of productive time troubleshooting this issue while waiting for him response (in all fairness it didn't take him too long to respond -- it's just there's an 8 hour difference and I emailed during the middle of the night in the UK). During that time I also did the research on what it would take to uninstall ResultsManager.

Nick's response assured me it was not anything with ResultsManager. I rolled my eyes so far back into my head, I was looking at my brain. You see, as you've read here I'm used to dealing with developers and programmers, and with those guys it's never the fault of the app.

And when you report the problem you hear a lot of "It's not supposed to . . ." and "It's supposed to . . ."

And in this case, how convenient to get to blame the main application.

But Nick coolly and calmly proved his case and in the fine tradition of Ronald Reagan dealing with the Soviets, 'I trusted, but verified' what he told me. So I went digging into MindManager forum/knowledgebase.

Sure enough, buried deep in there was the fact that MindManager X6 has problems validating add-ins and they hoped to correct it in the upcoming SP1. It's what the software industry calls a "known issue."

And the only add-in I have is ResultsManager. So naturally (incorrectly) I was blaming ResultsManager and Gyronix for a MindManager problem.

While this is the first time you're reading this, Gyronix heard plenty. And I have apologized . . . several times . . . for my ahem . . . spirited and adverse initial reaction.

Still, even given that, I recognized that it was such a productivity enhancer and it solved so many problems that I face as a entrepreneur of three companies -- I was willing to work with it until the SP1 was released.

How did I do that? I found a way to work around the problem until it got fixed.

I would launch X6/ResultsManager when I went into the office each morning (at the end of a grueling 30 second commute). Then while I showered and made coffee, MindManager was grinding away trying to validate the ResultsManager add-in so I could get some real work done.

Usually we finished about the same time.

That's why I was so happy when SP1 was released and I tested it out . . . and it worked! As promised! Double Bonus! Woo-hooo!

Now I can see what the Gyronix folks were saying -- that it should open in seconds -- not minutes. Because now it does. It's truly a beautiful thing.

But you know, ultimately it really didn't matter that much. Even at its slowest, it was still a more effective tool than anything else on the market. And that says a lot about any product.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

T +28 . . . And Counting

For the nitpickers out there -- yes, this 28 day blog has gone over its mark a bit. I have another couple of weeks of content that could go up here, but that really depends on where Gyronix wants things to go from here.

As a special treat, in the coming week I've asked Kyle McFarlin, Gyronix's resident trainer to do some guest posts about what came up during a recent conversation.

Let me tell you, he has some radical applications . . . some broadenings of how to apply ResultsManager to your personal and professional lives, that I practically begged him to put them down in black and white and let everyone get in on the mind meld with him.

It will change the way you use ResultsManager.

Personally, I couldn’t write fast enough to capture everything he said, so I'm looking forward to him slowing his thought processes down a bit and expand on some of these themes.

I don't know if he'll get to all of them, but this was the Wishlist I gave him:

  • How RM can be used as a personal Life Balance Tool and used on a multi-billion dollar project
  • How it straddles your personal and professional worlds by the way it "goes to work with you and comes home with you"
  • How using ResultsManager keeps you operating at peak productivity
  • Using RM to "become what you want to be"
  • How applying RM is like "walking into what's next"
  • How RM keeps you in continuous execution loops

And after that, I don’t know.

For those that have asked -- I don't know what's going to become of this blog, if it will continue or even, if it does, whether or not I'll be a part of it. That's all still up in the air at the moment.

My final assessment is forthcoming so there is going to be closure on the 28 day experiment.

Overall, my biggest complaint about ResultsManager was something that I had mistakenly blamed on Gyronix. And come to find out, it was actually a MindManager problem.

I will say this, with the installation of MindManager's SP1 -- that problem disappeared and now ResultsManager (and MindManager) fly like greased lightning.

I'm writing about that next. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

MindManager SP1 Works Great With ResultsManager

Normally I wouldn't post this here, but it's so important that I didn’t want to take a chance of people not benefiting from it because they weren't subscribed to the MindManager and GTD Yahoo lists.

And even though I did send the below to the Yahoo list, over 24 hours have passed and it has yet to appear.

I do not know the original poster's credentials for saying what she did in such an unqualified way, but she did. There's nothing that backs up her assertions.

Frankly I would have been more comfortable if she had said she worked with Gyronix or Mindjet. But she never says, yet does claim the "we" status as if she's speaking for a group.

Hmmm . . .

In spirit, I agree with her that one should use due caution when updating/grading.

My response follows, her original post after that:

Joanna, All:

Joanna's post exercises due caution and that's a Good Thing. However, I downloaded SP1 on a non-critical system w/MM & RM and ran it thru a bunch of hoops (I used to be a software tester).

I could find no discernible problems w/RM and SP1. I was confident enough with the testing results that I downloaded and installed it on my core system. And I wouldn't have done that if there was a chance anything hinky could happen to my client data.

Hope that helps.

Wishing You Much Success,

Walter Terry
Does ResultsManager get a Thumb's Up Or Down?
Find out in the "Taming Chaos - 28 Days with ResultsManager" blog

-----Original Message-----From:
[] On Behalf Of joanna_morris1000Sent: Friday,
April 21, 2006 10:17 AMTo: mindmanager@yahoogroups.comSubject:
[mindmanager] Re: Service Pack 1

Please note if downloading SP1 that an updated version of ResultsManager has not yet been released.

If ResultsManager is critical to your work, we recommend that you do not update to SP1 until ResultsManager can also support it. This should be available
early next week.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Who Fed It & Who Ate It This Week*

The blog was temporarily down in the early morning hours and has now been restored. I'm still troubleshooting exactly what happened.

Blame it on Blogger. It has to be the most inept platform for producing professional results I've ever seen.

So the logical question to ask is: 'Terry, if you knew Blogger wasn't a good platform, why'd you use it?'

That's a valid question. See, the "Taming Chaos" blog was designed to be a temporary project.

At the end of its run I'd turn over the content to the Gyronix folks to do with what they will.

The easiest way to facilitate that was to put it on a blogging platform that required the least amount of start-up work and also enabled me to do a painless hand-off at the end of 28 days.

Blogger fit that bill.

Frankly, since this type of blog hadn't been done before -- I didn't know if Gyronix would let it continue, because it could have turned out to be a public relations nightmare for them. On my end, in the beginning, I had a lot of the conversations with myself that started out with: "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time . . ."

There were a lot of questions, risks and doubts about this project in the beginning, and I think that's typical for doing anything that hasn't been done before.

And I gotta say, the folks at Gyronix had a lot of guts for approving the project (I think that's because they already knew what it took me awhile to discover -- it's a pretty damned good piece of software).

I mean, realistically, I could have toasted them (and would have, too) and it would have been public too soon for them to do damage-control. They put no restrictions on me and were gracious with their time as I tried to separate out which were ResultsManager problems, which were MindManager problems, and which were my personal problems.

More often than not, it was the latter. There was one big issue that I thought was an ResultsManager problem, but it turned out to be an MindManager issue that the just-released SP1 solved.

So it made the most sense in economy of effort that I choose the path of least resistance and fastest results.

But from incidents like this you've seen and the ones you didn't see -- I've paid for that decision several times over.

I would have been much better off using a platform that allows you to create backups, that allows you to categorize the posts and allows trackbacks and permalinks.

Short version of the Life Lesson Learned: never, **ever** user Blogger for anything other than a hobby site.

But . . . "It seemed like a good idea at the time."

Sorry for the inconvenience, folks.

* = Tip of the hat to Dennis Miller for the title.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Driving From My Dashboard

This one from a personal project. Yes, the other 2% of my life. ;-)

As readers of this blog know, the love of my life and I have bought a house. In the run-up to the actual committment to buy it and subsequently move there, it was my job to assay the crime in the area,

Doing my due diligence, I'd contacted the local police department to get the crime stats and incident response reports for that neighborhood.

Understandably, if there was a meth lab nearby and my neighbors were pin-ups for Meth Ho's Magazine, we wouldn’t want to live there. So, that was very important to us.

Then I entered into telephone tag with the lieutenant of the Police Department (my contact who could give me this information). Unfortunately he and I have busy schedules and we kept missing each other.

Meanwhile the move date loomed closer and closer.

I kept setting deadlines using ResultsManager with a Priority 1, but because of the ongoing slippage, I had to keep changing the dates in order to keep this in my face until it got handled.

Now, what I've come to love about ResultsManager, one of the beauties of the app, is that I could make the changes to the dates in the dashboard and then at the end of the day, I could send those date changes (along with other changes) back to the original maps without opening them.

And then the next day when I ran another daily dashboard, the updated action item came up on the appropriate day of the week. Bee-yoo-ti-ful!

The harsh critics who read this blog will dismiss such statements and say that I get overly enamored over simple things, but hey, I'm a simple guy. Like Tom Peters, I appreciate elegance of design -- whether that elegance resides in form or function. I love it all.

And ResultsManager, is elegant in form and function. A two-fer.

I love that it keeps things in my face until I do something with them. As a businessman, it gives me a tremendous peace-of-mind knowing that follow-ups with clients and prospects will never got lost.

And if that's all ResultsManager did -- it would still be one hell of a piece of software. But what makes the maraschino cherry on top of this electronic dessert is that it allows you to rapidly update the original map from within the dashboard.

Think what it means to never, ever have to worry about losing track of a project sub-project, action item, or appointment ever again.

Here's a conclusion I'm rapidly drawing about the ResultsManager. Because it automates the tedium of project management so seamlessly, that as much as it is a great management tool for getting things done -- it also a tool for generating more peace of mind.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

ResultsManager Saves My Bacon & Makes Some Cheddar

Because I'm a beginner, I probably run Sweep & Review dashboards more often than best practices would dictate. I use the S&R as a temporary dashboard to see if anything needs to be updated (to avoid slippage), before I create a dashboard that I'll actually be working off of -- whether it be for a single day or several days.

Recently the S&R uncovered a reminder for a scheduled follow-up to a prospective client. And since there wasn't a firm deadline on it and there were no hard consequences to missing it, then it's likely I would have dismissed it favor of other, more urgent priorities and consequently weeks, maybe a month down the road I would've realized I missed the window to follow-up.

However because I was using ResultsManager, the rampant Führer of Accountability, the overdue contact came up in a dashboard. I setup a call with the VP of Marketing, who several months ago wanted me to call back mid-April for a project that she wanted me help with.
To make a long story short, FedEx just left after dropping off an overnighted deposit to begin the project that, not counting royalties, will bring in over $8,000.

I think I'm starting to like this program . Btw, it is such a thrill to get a large check couriered overnight that I'm thinking of making it a standard stipulation in my contracts. What a rush!

In previous posts I've detailed how I was using combination of MindManager's Topic Alerts, Outlook's appointment scheduler and Task Manager.

But my topic alerts in MindManager and my task alerts in Outlook were so overflowing that pretty soon it became this wall of incompletions and stuff was starting to slip through the cracks.

And this nearly-missed opportunity was buried in there.

This reminder to follow-up with the prospect (now client) and it's subsequent payoff (literally) is directly attributable to using ResultsManager. And here's what's on my mind as I read back what I wrote -- if I can produce results like this with a fledgling's grasp of the app, what else will I be able to do in six months? A year?

So in addition to making a tangible $8,000+ since I downloaded the trial of ResultsManager (and intangibly I suspect it's made me several thousand more just in productivity savings), I'm a lot more relaxed and becoming more and more stress-free.

And richer.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Doggedly Worrying The Bone Of Contexts, Categories and Areas

Taking a page from what I got out of Nick Duffill's **very helpful** recent dissection of my struggles with Contexts, Categories and Areas (see the Comment here) . . .

I think I'm going to wipe my Master Areas and Categories lists and start over.

Areas (Of Management) now only has 2 areas: Personal and Professional.

Categories will contain just projects and specific sub-projects, instead of the hodgepodge of names I had crammed in there.

Contexts have yet to completely be determined. I thought I had a clear path until I read Nick's recent comments. Now I might need to re-think that.

Right now, since I already know how the dashboards feature anything with a defined Context then I'm tending to use it as a Category as well. I like seeing tasks divided into Review, Client #1 Tasks, Client #2 Tasks, etc.

I hate to say it but the way the GTD system breaks these things down into minutia boggles my mind. And by and large, they're still doing it with paper?! Yeesh.

I'll tell you one thing that became evident in yesterday's weekly review: my life is massively out of balance. I have all of this focus on my professional life, very little on personal.

Of course that's nothing new, Kyle slapped me upside the head with it back here. Nick D. also pointed it out here.

But it's quite another thing to see for yourself, an Areas section in a dashboard that is 98% Professional.

Monday, April 17, 2006

ResultsManager! Come Home!

I've come to the conclusion that ResultsManager is a dog.

But a good kind of dog -- like a border collie.

Yeah, I'm starting to think RM is like the border collie of project management software. Just like the brilliant, hard-working and dutiful border collie, it drives the herd of unruly and stubborn projects, sub-projects and tasks that typically comprise one's universe of productivity and corrals them in a way that makes the ranch (your life) function at it's most optimum level.

Know what's interesting about border collies? You have to give them projects. Their keen little doggie minds have to be focused on something. Otherwise, the results are disastrous for the humans it owns --as you'll soon see.

There's a well-known cautionary tale about what happens when you don't keep a border collie focused.

An enterprising collie had run a sheep ranch in the Scottish farmlands for years. The human owners decided one year to take a much-deserved break.

So they got a housesitter and off they went to Fiji.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . . the housesitter, a young, idealistic lass who firmly believed in animal rights, decided the overworked dog deserved a break. And from her perspective, this dog was a little four-legged slave that did all the work his masters were supposed to do.

So she barred the collie from its daily task of rounding up and tending to the sheep. Every morning she'd let the sheep out to graze on the hillsides and every night she's bang on a feed pot until they all came back home.

The dog paced and fretted in it's penned enclosure, watching in disbelieving canine horror. It was supposed to be out there rounding up those sheep! Herding them to the best grazing patches, keeping the lambs close to their mommas -- all the while guarding them from the wolves and packs of wild dogs.

And this daft Two-Leg had him penned up like one of his charges!

But he knew two things -- that his masters loved him and that he was charged with a mission. And border collies being border collies -- he was determined to fulfill his charge no matter what.

So he broke free every chance he got. Chewing through rope leashes, pulling stakes he was chained to out of the ground and tunneling under the side of the barn when she shut him in there. Soon she'd be treated to a fleeting glimpse from the kitchen widow as he hurtled up the slopes like a fur bullet -- barking orders to the herd.

This went on for weeks and she roundly cursed the animal mind control those horrible ranchers must have subjected this poor doggie to.

But one day, she won.

She put him in the electrified paddock reserved for the truculent rams. The paddock bordered the workshop and was across the barnyard on the far side of the barn.

And there he stayed. He couldn't tunnel under. He couldn't jump over and the shocks, they were designed for much heavier animals.

And he'd be laying there despondently where she could see him, looking accusingly at her in the house. Every night and morning she'd go out to feed him and he'd meet her at the gate. Soon enough, he was happily wagging his tail and barking while she fed him.

And with a smugness reserved for humans, she realized she had finally broke years of human mind control on another oppressed animal.

One day she heard a huge crash come from the far side of the workshop. She ran out to the electrified paddock, fearing the worst as she carefully killed the juice.

Curious that the little dog hadn't met her at the gate, she thought.

Rounding the corner, her eyes bugled and she was so mind-numbed by the sight that she just sat down. Hard.

The enterprising little collie, during it weeks of captivity had destroyed the entire porch that was on the field side of the workshop. It had been dismantled, board-by-board until there was nothing left of the structure save for a pile of boards stacked beside the fence -- towering over it.

And the dog? He was rocketing up the distant slopes like furred lightning, furiously barking to his dim-witted charges.

He had his project. He knew his job. And he was going to do it no matter what.

Life lessons. Doggie-style.

Nudge. Wink. Send.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

What's The Context For Your Context?

I think the only solution is to codify my own system for Contexts, Areas and Categories.

Context can be a physical place, but maybe it can be a starting from place, instead of a literal physical location, like @Phone or @Office. Maybe it could be a context to come-from as well?

While I like the idea of Context from the GTD system -- the Categories and Areas just don't jibe with me. Maybe it's from using the Tony Robbins RPM system for years, but as defined by GTD -- I'm not feeling the love.

But when I use them in the way RPM does -- i.e., Categories = Categories Of Improvement and Areas = Areas Of Management, then it works for me.

So I'm taking a page from what Nick Duffill advised last week and customizing it to fit the way I work.

And if I do that, if I start using Contexts (or Categories, or Areas) in ResultsManager, yet in a slightly modified way, this may work for me.

How about you? If you're an experienced ResultsManager user, which route did you take? Did you totally adopt the GTD protocols? A modified version of it? Or did you create your own system?

Or was it just easier to not bother at all?

Enquiring minds want to know. Tell me what you did to adapt/adopt and I'll put the best ones up.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Hey You've Got Categories In My Context . . . !

"Oh yeah? Well, you've got Context in my Areas!"

If figuring out how ResultsManager expects you to use Contexts, Categories and Areas has you recalling that Reese's peanut butter commercial, you're not alone.

I had managed to (more or less) successfully ignore all three when using ResultsManager. That is, until I couldn't put up with the way the dashboards were categorizing my action items and finally I was forced to understand why it was breaking items up into the Areas, Contexts, and Categories classifications.

So here I am on my third reading of the ResultsManager manual and Allen's "Getting Things Done" and Tony Robbins' "Time Of Your Life" (TOYL) program, where the RPM system comes from.

And doing my level best to understand the difference between Areas, Contexts, and Categories.

And so far I have not been able to grok what the differences in such a way that it helps me put the three of them into use with ResultsManager.

It seems that the GTD system adds the concept of "Context" to mark out the physical locations where you commonly 'get things done' in life.

But what are the distinctions between the three that will enable me to use them for maximum benefit? Thus far, this has been the most vexing issue I've faced with ResultsManager. I said "vexing", not scary. Scary was THIS issue [link to 'dropping post' post].

And maybe it's just issues with my own personal use of the way I personally use ResultsManager. Since I spend most of my day in my office then contexts such as "@Office" wouldn't make sense. Those areas of my RM dashboard would be huge.

By contrast, if I were the use "@Phone" as a context -- it wouldn't be quite as large because most my work is transacted over email.

So here's my understanding thus far of the two systems and their terminology:

Contexts -- is the physical where you can get your work done. If you've got a block of time and a lot of calls? Then "@Phone" is a great one to use. Like online research could be marked out as "@Online."

Categories -- Seems to be the large 'containers' in which to put the actions you need to take.

Areas -- Key life/professional roles and responsibilities that chew up your consciousness bandwidth. Specific to the "20,000 foot" perspective.

Contexts -- RPM does not have this classification.

Areas -- called "Areas Of Management," these are the large chunk areas of your life you consistently focus on. Commonly divided up into two areas: Professional and Personal.

Categories -- called "Categories Of Improvement." Within each of the two Areas Of Management, these specific categories you consistently focus on and improve.

Confused? Yeah, me too.

Are any of these really important distinctions we need to make in order to be effective in all the key areas of life? Does it really need to be broken down in this way?

Isn't the danger of all this list-making and categorization that you spend so much time doing that, that you don't 'Get Things Done?'

What do you think?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Forget Me Now, But Remember Me Later

"What if," I started asking, "I could forget about something for now, and then be reminded of it when appropriate?"

Just read this on Jason Womack's GTD blog. Jason is one of David Allen's trainers. David Allen is the creator of the Getting Things Done (GTD) principles that ResultsManager uses as a foundation.

I thought it perfectly described how I've come to use the Someday/Maybe option in ResultsManager. Because sometimes in the heat of scheduling on-the-fly, I'm not sure what the deadline is or I don't yet have enough information to set one.

But it is important and I need the assurance that if I flag it, that the software will remind me again in a timely manner. Then I can let it go out of my awareness and make room for other stuff that's time-sensitive.

But I need to be confident that the app will sweep it up and flag it and that it'll be put in a scan-at-a-glance section of my next dashboard.

So he gets points for a great question. Those same points get subtracted as he continues:

"A version of that question (and I always talk about this in seminars) sent me on a two-year search for "my" system."

Well I say, let ResultsManager manage it. Doesn’t take 2 years and you don't have to search for the system -- it's already created for you. Don’t need to trial-and-error your way through a solution -- the folks at Gyronix have already done that.

And above all -- it automates what a lot of people (way too many) are doing with pen and paper.

Hate to run the risk of sounding like a cheerleader for ResultsManager, but realistically -- it's a pretty damned good piece of work.

And that should be acknowledged.

Acknowledgement Done. Send.

P.S. - Since I'm doing acknowledgements, Jason gets props for a very thought-provoking post. I've subscribed. I want to read more what he has to say.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Getting Katie Couric Out of My Relationship (Central)

Great ideas often have a simplicity and elegance of design and execution that can initially escape your attention -- until it solves a major problem. Then it's your best friend for life.

Such was the case when I replied to Kyle McFarlin, Gyronix's chief trainer (see the training modules here) who asked if there was anything he could do to make my journey with ResultsManager better.

I was complaining that there wasn't a good visual way to track what actions I have leveraged out to others. "What ResultsManager needs is a good way to track what I'm waiting for others to complete and which ones they are waiting on me to complete."

Silence on the other end.

Then, "ResultsManager does have something like that. It's called Relationship Central."

Oops (ok, another oops - happy now?!). I didn't want to admit (although I'm sure he knows now) that because I didn’t see the point of Relationship Central, I've been deleting it off my dashboards. And what a dumb name, btw. "Relationship Central." Sounds like something my girlfriend would come up with.

When I saw it in my first daily dashboard I scoffed, 'That's stupid. Who cares about personal relationships in a professional setting?' and promptly deleted it. And prior to recently, have deleting it out of every dashboard.

At Kyle's prompting, I took a closer look at it.

Hmmm . . .

In a single section of your daily or weekly dashboard, you can quickly scan to see who owes what to you and what you owe to others. Ok . . . I like that everything I've leveraged out is grouped in a single area, broken down by person. That works for me.

And now that I've started using it, it seems to be a good tool for tracking what I've leveraged out to others.

And being able to track tasks delegated to others is mission-critical because, as I'm sure you've experienced, sometimes others deliver when they're supposed to and sometimes they place a different priority on completing the task than you do.

In other words, they're late or they drop the ball entirely and hope you won't notice.

And for that, it's good to have a central place to monitor it all with a glance.

I've also noticed that it really boosts accountability (especially when they know you're tracking it) and fewer things fall through the cracks.

Here's a shot of my Relationship Central from the infamous "Spock's Ears" dashboard of the map.

P.S. - As of this writing, Couric still has not responded to my frankly generous job offer (see picture). Hmmm, perhaps I should call Leonard to explain IDIC to her once more. Perhaps QT (i.e., Q-Tip) can help remove some obstructions.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Oops . . . User Error -- ResultsManager Cleared

Got a towel so I can wipe the egg off my face?

You know that thing they tell you about emotionally charged email and blog posts -- that you should let them sit a spell before sending or publishing? I've got another to add to that list -- before you diss someone's product in public for all the world to see -- make sure it wasn't your stupidity that caused the problem in the first place.

In this case, mea cupla.

I did something really stupid with my maps. Especially my pro maps. Actually, I've been doing this stupid thing for awhile and it nearly cost me a gig, so it instantly got my attention.

For the record, this was a legacy problem, and not ResultsManager’s fault. It was the consequence of managing personal and professional projects using a hodgepodge of symbols, conventions and protocols since I started mapping several years ago and now ResultsManager has to cope with them.

For the most part it has done so admirably. And it did so in this case as well, by working as it was designed to do.

Here's what happened. I have a auto-drip system (now set-up in ResultsManager) to contact clients and prospective clients every 30, 60, 90 days). And I have "talking points," things I want to make sure and bring up the next time I talk or email them.

But between the time I think of those points and the actual delivery of them, anywhere from 30-90 days can go by.

During that time, I may have discovered new information that would render moot the point, but I want to keep it because it reminds me of other key points.

With me so far?

To remind myself that, while it was an important point to keep, I didn't want to bring it up. So, being a visual guy, I inserted an icon that comes with MindManager to symbolize that.

And nothing says "No!" like that international symbol of "No." You know the one, with the red circle and red line diagonally slashing across the radius? That one?

ResultsManager masters are smacking their foreheads at this point. Because, as Grandpa would say, "This horse is not going in a good direction."

For everyone else, the ResultsManager application reads that symbol as 'don't sweep up the contents of this map, topic, branch, etc.'

In other words, Fuggitaboutit, in Soprano-ese. Which means everything there gets dropped! Which means nothing attached to that topic branch gets swept up and accounted for when I ran a dashboard.

And nothing has been -- since I started using ResultsManager. And a lot of action items and reminders got dropped as a consequence.

Now some of you might be saying (and justifiably so), “That's what you get, Terry. RTFM!”

And they would be correct. Though I did read the manual, that part I seemed to have missed. But it is in there. I screwed up and missed it.

Much apologies to all.

Here's capture of a map that shows where I screwed the metaphorical pooch by using my unconventional conventions. This is a duplication of the topic branch that caused the problems, only the client's name, company and specific action items were changed to protect confidentiality:

Note that since the topic "Hire earwax checker/Vulcan ear cleaner" has the "No" icon in it, then neither it nor it's other action items: "research ear wax checker credentials," "compile list," "interview strongest earwax checker candidate" will get accounted for when I run a dashboard.

Here's what a quickie Daily dashboard looks like. In this case, I just ran the dashboard on the above topic, not on the entire map:

Did you see what's missing? Everything on that branch with the exclusion icon. And the topic that didn't have the icon got sweep up and accounted for.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

ResultsManager Throws Up And Drops The Ball

Aww damnit! I knew it, I knew it, I knew it! As soon as I dropped my guard and quit double-checking that something like this would happen!

Damn, damn, damn!

I don’t know what the hell happened. Maybe I got a bit too over-confident with ResultsManager. Apparently, the app is not/was not sweeping up some key client contact actions and hasn't been doing so since, as far as I can tell, from the get-go of this trial.

I think I didn't catch it because some of the actions were only coming due until recently. But here's the kicker:

Yesterday, while on the phone with a client, I'm looking at my talking points for the call in the client's map. Suddenly I noticed a couple of prep items I should have done before the call.

But I hadn't done them because . . . they never came up in any of my dashboards. Not the Weekly Review. Not the Daily Actions. Nada.

Which means -- they never got done. Which means, I was not as prepared as I should have been.

Not cool and not the professional polish I like to have.

So, while trying to maintain my cool, I'm frantically dual-processing -- having the conversation with her while troubleshooting the problem on my end -- clicking through client maps as fast as I can, seeing if I can find the commonality between them.

What I saw hit me like a deep sucker-punch to the stomach: a lot of action items had been dropped and/or were about to be dropped.

I gotta fix this quick or else they're going to take away my Golden Tester award.

Gotta blaze and figure this out before it costs me further (literally). I'll do my best to give everyone an update (hopefully) by the end of the day.

Monday, April 10, 2006

This About That

The positive comments on this blog have been going along pretty well. That is, until I started talking about price and ResultsManager. For whatever reason, the subject inflamed the good nature of some people and incited them to such a degree, they suddenly lost the ability to civilly express their opinions.

Oh goody. Sometimes it's fun to watch people spit and sputter and work themselves into a nuclear lather over their own opinions and misperceptions.

Strange, but fascinating. Freeway car wreck kind of fascinating.

But what the vocal minority needs to keep in mind is that I'm not writing this just for you. There are many readers who are dealing with issues you don’t care about . . . and vice versa.

And for some, the issue of price versus value is an interesting and valid subject.

So please keep in mind that if you don’t find it interesting, it may be helping others (that you're unaware of) resolve an issue that's been twisting their tails for some time.

This blog is my personal experiences with ResultsManager and I'm doing it on my own time.

Gyronix doesn't get to tell me what to write, and frankly neither does anyone else. As such, from my personal experiences, the issue of price and perception of value does come up. Maybe that reflects your personal experience and interest, maybe it doesn't.

As usual, money issues strike a variety of responses in people. For the record, I never said nor implied anything about stupid sacrifices like 'eating only ramen noodles for six months,' nor anything about "brownbagging" -- nothing about 'doing without.'

Frankly, if you need to engage in those processes, then you need to meet Life's Basic Needs first before investing in a piece of software . . . or anything else for that matter.

Okay, enough with the housecleaning. I only have a couple weeks left and I do not intend to spend it engaging in pitched electronic battles with MasterDebaters who haven't even bothered to read the blog before commenting.

If you want to comment, then please do so constructively and civilly (Bob P's is a good example. He misrepresented my point, but he did so intelligently and civilly).

Btw, a colleague of mine (we're both in Dan Kennedy's Inner Circle) noted that Dan gets the same kind of push-back whenever he brings up the price vs. value issues.

And it doesn’t matter the industry or the context. Seems there are a few that always (choose to) come unhinged when the subject is broached.

Interesting. "Verrrrry interesting."

In this case it was the ResultsManager software, but it could have just as easily been Tele-Tubbies and it would have provoked the same response if I had said it to toy fanatics.

Thanks for the timely reminder, Bill.

Next up, I think I finally got ResultsManager to drop something. A whole lot of somethings. Gotta double-check a bit before ripping them a new one. Stay tuned, this could get ugly.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

More Honking . . .

Kyle McFarlin over at The Underlying Blog said some nice things here.

He used "gentleman" and my name in the same sentence, so that proves right there he has no idea of who the hell I am. You may remember he and Nick Duffill (both of Gyronix) gave me some good-natured "Snap out of it!" slaps on the side of the head for some things I said in my blog.

You can read them here, if you haven't already. And if you haven't, then what the hell were doing that was so damned importantly?!

[Nurse Ratched interrupts with a little paper cup filled with pills - cue intermission music].

Ahhh . . .much better. Now where was I? Oh yeah . . . so lot's of buzz about ResultsManager being stirred up out there. And that can only be a Good Thing (unless the app craps out in the next week or two, and then all bets are off, Duffill! You, too, McFarlin!).

Me, I'm happy that the app seems to be getting the recognition it deserves. Provided it doesn't blow up on me.

But for now, the Flying Fickle Finger Of Fate waves in a good direction for ResultsManager.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I'm from Missouri, So Show Me

I wanted to be the one that busted ResultsManager.

Part of me did, anyway. The part of me that remains the skeptical software tester. More about that in a minute, but for now I want to say that I think I'm done with the extra testing and safeguards, all the double and triple-checking up on ResultsManager to make sure it's not dropping stuff behind my back.

Yet, I felt an obligation to do all that, since I'm putting not one, but two professional reps on the line with this public learning experience or humiliation (depending on how it turns out).

"Measure twice, cut once," Grandpa used to wisely counsel.

I'm comfortable enough now (though still cautious) that I'm going to quit running repeated test dashboards to make sure it sweeps up and accounts for everything each time. So far, it hasn't failed once to sweep up something that it should have -- and I put it to some rigorous tests.

Might sound a bit OCD to you, but not only has it saved me a lot of unnecessary grief in life, plus I was able to parlay it into an occupation later on. And that compulsiveness has served me well when I became a test lead and QA lead for a software/hardware testing lab.

I've busted the software and hardware of the biggies -- Microsoft, HP, Compaq, Dragon Naturally Speaking, and a host of smaller software companies that teetered on the brink of obscurity.

I've literally made project managers for Microsoft and HP weep. Not cry. Not sob. Weep.

So yeah, thus far, ResultsManager is everything it claims to be, plus a touch more.

Nice. Very nice. For them anyway. From an ego gratification point-of-view, I was sorta hoping for at least one angry rant and/or crying jab from a Gyronix team member because I found a "showstopper" bug.

On the bright side, I've got a couple of weeks left.

Another Honk From . . .

AdminID over at Note Talkers suggested in a private email (after some good-natured ribbing about his name) that I enter their contest with some Before ResultsManager and After shots of my infamous uber-maps. I may do that. I've saved out a couple with that idea in mind.

And he even gave this blog a little honk here. He's coined an interestingly curious term, "the ResultsManager meme." And I am certainly curious to see if he expands more on that topic .

And then he blithely floats out the idea about the learning curve for ResultsManager not being that steep. I say, "Sure, buddy. Use it first and then tell me that."

All kidding aside, it appears the focus for Note Talkers is more focused on reviews for note-taking software than for mindmapping based apps. And being a fellow new homeowner, he had some great money-saving ideas that I'm extremely grateful for.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Overcoming Basic Instincts, 2 . . . When Ice Picks And Hot Chicks Shouldn't Meet

I've found that in life, being able to accurately assess anything based first on price is a bit like expecting Sharon Stone to not show off her new sport, Legs Lacrosse in her new movie. Or like asking Whitney Houston to design a drug-free health regimen.

Ain't. Gonna. Happen.

By the same token, some people like to look at the price first to see how much it's going to cost them and then they look at what it'll do for them.

Seems to me that's a bit backwards.

And some people are comfortable with that, and that's well and good. If that method works for you, then all's well and good. To each his own. Just as valid, there's another way of looking at it -- I prefer to grok what it will do for me, and then and only then do I care about the price tag.

If it's of sufficient benefit, I'll make sure I have the money. I'll find it somehow, if need be.

It reminds me of when I was helping one of the country's foremost hypnotists with his marketing. And he would tell me how often desperate college students would email or call him, whining about how they couldn't afford his products.

His answer, though true, never fails to tickle my funny bone:

"You know . . . the single great advantage for someone being in my position as opposed to being in your position – is that I'm about twice as old as you are, perhaps even more. Now, those additional 20, 25 years have all been spent as an adult, up to and including being in college.

You know what I know?

I know that you spend that amount of money on beer, on fast food, on fooling around with your friends and doing stupid stuff. Now, the fact is that you could invest that amount of money once and change your life to the point where you can get money, where you can get women,or men, or sheep . . . whatever floats your boat.

Now, you can do all that for less than $400 bucks . . . or you can go out and have a real nice weekend.

If you choose to do what you've always have done . . . if you want your life to stay the same, then you should not be buying my products."
I'd same the same applies to the decision to buy ResultsManager or not.

Does it offer enough to justify its $285 price tag? You bet (at least so far). Trial it on an important, but low-risk project. Or several of them. You'll see what I mean.

A Honk From The Blogosphere

Got some nice folks starting to notice this blog and commenting on it.

Thanks, guys, I am honored. I'm even more gratified from the private emails that some of you are finding my Forrest-Gump-On-Display journey useful to their own ResultsManager learning process.

That makes it all worthwhile.

Chuck Frey of The Mindmapping Software Weblog said some nice things about my blog, you can read it here. He reviews . . .well the title says it all, doesn't it? What it doesn't say is what I like most about his site. If you want an overview of the entire spectrum of visual knowledge and project management software that's out there, his blog should be your first stop.

I've been subscribed to Chuck's blog since it's launch, so he's been on my radar for some time.

I'm pleased that my little blog has found its way onto his radar.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

What Cost Success? Or . . .

Seeing The World As A "Flashing Blue Light Special"

Well, since my last post on the subject, I've been thinking more about the cost of manually doing tasks that you could automate.

But then, isn't the larger question: How much your time are you spending manually doing tasks that you could be getting paid for? As a freelancer, I know what an hour of my time is worth.

Even the savings of an hour here and there (and ResultsManager has been saving me quite a bit more than that), that one hour is significant because the software automates the tasks that would take me an hour or more to do by hand each day or each week. For me, that would more than pay for itself.

Every colleague, every client, every prospect that sees ResultsManager at work wants it. And it is a complex product, at first. Maybe it's the context I give it, because it's rare that I don't show them a bit about how I've been using it. Yet, every once and awhile, some poverty-minded person will sputter about the price and I tell them pretty much what I've told you.

I mean, frankly -- I don't care whether they buy it or not. Their decision one way or the other has no bearing on my wallet. I'm don't get a free toaster or money if someone buys it. I'm just doing my part making the business world a better place by showing them a productivity tool that automates the tediousness of project tracking and management. That's all.

I send them to the Gyronix site and let them make up their own mind. Because I really think if you use mind mapping, and are managing people, multiple projects or combination of all the above -- it's pretty easy to see how ResultsManager can have an impact on your bottom line.

So when I look out over the course of a week, it's plain to see how much ResultsManager has been saving me. And I can tell you that, barring some majorly hideous failing on its part -- I'll be buying a copy at the end of this trial period.

And yes, even though I've done this blog -- at the end of 28 days I will still have to buy a copy just like everyone else.

So realistically, the question of whether to get ResultsManager or not is not really a matter of cost. It's a matter of in how many ways can you be making money with the time you spent doing tedious task that could be automated?

That's the crux of the real issue for me. What about you? Agree? Disagree? Something else altogether? Tell me where you stand on the issue.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The True Cost Of ResultsManager or . . .

Managing Ignorance

It usually starts out something like this:

"Woo-weee! $285 bucks? That's a helluva lot of money for an ADD-ON! Hell, that's three quarters of the price of the software it's added on to (MindManager)!"

They finish that last part with a flourish reserved for an easy victory spike in a lopsided game of volleyball.

It's the reaction I've occasionally seen when people are exposed to ResultsManager for the first time. Not coincidently, these are the same people who are so busy bending over to pick up pennies, they miss the $20 bill on the windowsill.

But they've missed the point and it's that kind of mentality that's probably responsible for their penny obsession in the first place.

Consider this, maybe those folks are focusing on entirely the wrong thing. And I think I know why. Because they don't know what their time is worth. They've never sat down and calculated the time it takes to do things by hand vs. automating those same repetitive tasks.

I think that's why ResultsManager is such a big hit in corporate environments, because they're used to doing a cost-benefits analysis. Because they commonly have to justify department purchases using that very process.

So it's easy for them to calculate how much time it takes to manually track and manage projects and how much time, effort and money is saved by automating it.

Before ResultsManager, I was doing project tracking by using MindManager's task icons and filters. Later on, in X6 I used the Topic Reminders + Outlook's Tasks and Appointment reminders.

It's better than nothing, right?

But it was time consuming. To say nothing of boring and frustrating . . . and cumbersome. And as human tendencies tend to go, I quit diligently using it.

But back to how much ResultsManager costs. I'd say this: you're not paying for the add-on, you're paying for the results it'll help you produce. And that you can't put a price tag on.

To get the straight shot-between-the-eyes truth about time management, I recommend all of you read Dan Kennedy's book "No B.S. Time Management For Entrepreneurs."

Kennedy has been my direct marketing mentor for years and even if it don't initially agree, I take action anyway because more often than not, he's right and I just had an ignorant opinion. And what are opinions, after all if not ideas about something without the experience to back it up.

Psst . . .even if you work for someone else, you still need this book because employees need to THINK and ACT like entrepreneurs. In fact, it wouldn't hurt anyone to get all the titles in the "No B.S." series.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Moving Tribute

And no, neither Barbra Streisand nor Bono will be singing. Nor will Clooney be stepping in to take credit for its success.

Instead, the love of my life and I are happily ensconced in our new home after years of apartment dwelling. Got a fair bit of land, a huge house, privacy and the nearest neighbor is a couple of hundred feet away.

No more sharing walls on either side with people who, when it came to consideration for others, were apparently educated with a banana and an inner-tube. That, and apparently deafened by years of living inside a steel drum with tone-deaf apes pounding on the outside with sticks.

Gone. Gone. Gone.

But I digress.

If you've bought a home, then you know there are many, many steps involved -- a lot of moving parts and they all have to happen in a particular sequence. Otherwise, the delays can set the process back days or even weeks.

In my pre-ResultsManager moving map, I divided the project up into 3 phases: Prep, Move, Post.

I started using ResultsManager about three-quarters of the way through the Prep phase, and once I entered we were able to polish off all the permits, title checking, home inspection balls of knotted yarn that seemed to go on forever.

Done. In correct sequence. On time.

The move went pretty flawlessly and more importantly, virtually stress free. Why? Because it was planned and executed with the precision of a military campaign.

And that I directly attribute to ResultsManager.

Yes, even with my feeble grasp of the software, and you all know this to be true, because my ineptitude and successes have been put out here for all the world to see. You've also read the good-natured corrections that the folks at Gyronix have made to the things I said and did.

Yep, even with all that, I sure as hell felt like Patton herding his cats through to victory . . . or something like that.

And that's always Good Thing.

And now we're halfway through the mop-up, Post phase.

And there's been but one major glitch, and as it often is with ResultsManager -- it was human error.

Because I was working so much, I didn't take adequate time to label my office boxes with plain English that would be understandable days later. But that's always been my problem -- mind like a steel trap, memory like a sieve.

So you can be sure I planned for it next time. Since I know we'll be moving at some point in the future, I saved the map as a template, deleted or made generic the things specific to this move -- and this time I made sure to include an action item/reminder to correctly label my boxes.

Monday, April 03, 2006

This Is Not Something I'm Happy About . . .

Prior to ResultsManager, I created and worked my maps in the traditional mind mapping method of starting at the 1 o'clock position and working around the "clock" to the 12 o'clock position.

However, best practices according to ResultsManager seemingly works counterintuitive to the tradition.

Now, your projects elements and subprojects and heck, even the ResultsManager templates expect you to start on the left-hand side (11 o'clock) and work counter-clockwise to 12 o'clock.

Huh? That's totally backwards, isn't it? This exceptional break from decades of mindmapping procedure seems disconnected from what has been (so far) a well-thought-out, sophisticated piece of software.

Did I miss something here? Did I start out wrong and developed a bad habit until it became my personal best practices? Or is it something having to do with Allen's "Getting Things Done"?

Anyone know why this is best practices when using ResultsManager, but not when doing standard mindmapping?

If the folks at Gyronix want to take this on without having to deal with the limitations of the Comments field, I'll let you have the floor for a guest post or two.

As Ricky would say, "Luuu-seee, you have some 'splainin' to do!"

Sunday, April 02, 2006

You Yin'd When You Should Have Yang'd

ResultsManager trainer Kyle McFarlin made some good points that blend philosophy with practical applications in his comments to my 3.28.06 post "Project Management: Best Practices With ResultsManager."

If you missed it, read his comments here.

Two of the things he highly recommends, I admit, I did not do. Because of the way I jumped in the middle of ResultsManager to test it out (and risking public failure), I didn't:

1. Build my personal folder and map infrastructure with the same care I devoted to my pro projects.

2. Though I did link my Personal Projects to my Map Central, I have yet to prioritize as ruthlessly as I do with Professional Projects.

But then, my challenge isn't one of prioritization. It's just that projects that pay the bills get first dibs on my time. Those have the highest priority. Anything after that is available for personal projects.

And because I often have a full dance card of clients -- there's often not a lot else left over.

Do any of you suffer from the same affliction? Do you focus on your professional life (as far as scheduling and project management goes) to the exclusion of much else?

Do you agree or disagree with Kyle when he claims that "truly unique professional projects" grow when the physical, emotional and social aspects of your life are proportional to each other?
Personally, I'm concerned that he may be right, and that I find troubling.

What say you, readers?

Btw, for more thoughtful writings about business and life and how to practically apply them, visit Kyle's blog at The Overlying Blog.

For companies and individuals, Kyle trains new and advanced ResultsManager users in the finer points of ResultsManager mastery. Click the link to discover more about Gyronix's different training modules.

I'm hoping Kyle will take me up on my offer and do a guest post or two because I admire his balance of the philosophical and the practical in his approach to business and life. To say nothing of his matchless knowledge about ResultsManager.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Gyronix Tells Me My Priorities Are Out Of Whack

Nick Duffill makes many good points in his comments to my 3.28.06 post "Project Management: Best Practices With ResultsManager."

If you missed it, here are his comments.

He's right about me being so focused on gaining control of my uber-maps that I've been using ResultsManager's dashboards to focus on only half of what I should be doing. Though I wasn't cognizant of that at the time, the results bear out the accuracy of his statements.

And while I was mulling over his observations, I recalled something Werner Erhard used to say, "Being half-assed is bad no matter which cheek you have left."

Many of the difficulties I've faced integrating ResultsManager have been because my dashboards do not realistically reflect my capacity, not realistically anyway.

Up to this point, they reflect my ideal of what I can get done, and consequently each week I've been changing the completion dates over and over again.

ResultsManager is the Terminator of accountability. It really does keep your incompletions in your face until you handle them. Since starting ResultsManager, I've been faced with this each week as the old week transitions to the new.

For example, as I write this, I'm getting ready for another weekly review and planning the next week's projects and action items. And this time I'm going to have to face (again) all the important personal projects I didn't complete.

As usual, this past week I did great on the professional projects. So using Nick's observations as a litmus, I'd have to admit that I do not regard personal projects with the same weight I use for professional ones.

A harsh, harsh truth that bears further reflection.

Btw, Nick -- what is "Pandoro's Box?" initially I thought it was a typo, but when I did a quick search on it, I found vague references to it being used to sort chaos. How is this map different from a someday/maybe, other than its potential to come back and bite you?

Do you set it up so you are prompted to review the Pandoro's Box map on a regular basis?