Find Your Productivity Solution

The Springpad Springboard community on Google+ has been the home for Springpad users for more than a year.  With the pending shutdown of the business (but not the community) we've pulled together to help people find alternatives for their own trusted productivity / curation solutions.  To make things easier, below are the important links to articles and assets to help in the search and success:


Keep checking back here as we add new posts, contact information, and more about the myriad of productivity solutions out there and how to get the most for your needs.

In addition you can use a copy of the list at List.ly to rate your preference of productivity tools and see how others have rated them as well:

Saying Thank You the Springpad Way

With the holiday season upon us, it's important to remember to thank people for the gifts we receive, not only now but all through the year.  Springpad is the kind of tool that makes the mechanics easier so you can focus on the sentiment.  Here's my recommendation:

Create a notebook in Springpad for "Thank You Reminders".  Inside that notebook either create a contact note for each person you are receiving a gift from.  (If you're planning ahead you already have a Contacts notebook of these people and you can just add them to the new notebook, but that's a different article.)  On each contact record make sure you add a tag with the person's name.  That will come in handy later as the unwrapping is happening.

Now's when it all comes together.  When the presents are being unwrapped, either by you or by others who you are keeping track for, using Springpad on your mobile device open the Thank You Reminders notebook and take a photo of the present and the happy smiles of the gift receiver.   Title the Spring with brief description of the gift and then, here's the important part, assign the tag of the person's name to the photo.

Now after the festivities have ended you can go back to that notebook, filter on the person's name tag and send them a warm, sincere thank you note for the gifts, and anything else they have done for you over the course of the year.

It's better to give than to receive, but when you receive make sure you say Thank You!

Photo credit: kevin dooley / Foter.com / CC BY

Conducting multi tag searches in Springpad notebooks

If you are leveraging the tags in Springpad to organize your content, you may have found a feature has gone missing.  Due to the recent change in the system architecture, the ability to do an Advanced Search has been removed.  As a work around, you can do the following to perform complex searches and then save those searches for future reference.  I have only tried this on the web, and I know the save does not carry over to mobile, but it's better than nothing.

Multi Tag Search

In the search box, enter the tags you are looking for in this format:

#tag1 #tag2

This will return any spring in the notebook that shares those two tags.  In situations when you have multi word tags, wrap the words in quotation marks like this:

#tag1 #"tag word2"

This works the same as just the tags but allows for multiple words.

Saving Searches

Springpad no longer offers a specific feature for saving advanced searches, but there's no reason you can't use a work around to accomplish the same thing.  Once you have run a search in a notebook and have your results, either bookmark the URL for the page or copy it and paste it into another note.  In either case, that new URL will now return a result page based on that search each time you use it, but it will contain the current notes at that time.

Make a Springpad Holiday Photo Album

If you're like me your family has various levels of technical skill when it comes to the Internet.  Some are tech savvy, some not so much.  So when the family event is over and all the pictures have been taken, how do you share them among each other?  Springpad gives you a way, using a collaborative notebook, for your more technical to contribute and your less technical to just enjoy.

Create the notebook and use the Share option to create the link to email or IM your family members who will be viewing the pictures.  For family members adding pictures, make them collaborators to the notebook.  Now as they have a chance, either from their phone, tablet, or computer, they can contribute to the contents.

The best part is you can add pictures to the notebook as the event goes on by just sharing them from your mobile device...perfect for those who are unable to attend.  Comments can be added to the photos on the Springs and you can even tag the photos with the names of family and friends to make it easier to find all the pics of an individual.

While this isn't a service like Google Photos, it is a great way to put photos together in a way everyone you want can enjoy now and later.

Writer's focus trick

If you're in the need for an easy way to concentrate your focus when writing, here's a tip.  In Springpad, create a new note and then press Ctrl-F and F11.  Ctrl-F will take you to the full screen editor for the note and F11 will cause your browser to go full screen, hiding everything else.  Since the notes automatically save you can now concentrate on your writing.  When you're done you can share directly from the note or just copy and paste your draft content into whatever destination you desire.  Yes, it's just that easy.

Bonus tip:  Use the [Ctrl +] and [Ctrl -] combination to make things larger and easier to read as you're writing.

Vlog - Springhacks #1 - Movies and Projects

If you missed this in the Google+ stream yesterday, here's a quick video with some tips for tracking your movies in Springpad and a sneak peek at a larger project I'm working on for managing projects.

Please share the video and include your comments!

Springpad and Project Management - Part 1

This is the first part in a three part series about implementing the Idea Pump approach of using Springpad for project management.  Part one will focus on the why and why not to use Springpad when managing projects for teams.  Part two will cover getting started setting up your project management system in Springpad and part three will cover putting it to use.

Part 1 - What is project management the Idea Pump way?

When we discuss project management in polite circles you'll often hear terms such as "Agile", "Scrum", or "PMBOK" tossed about.  Rather than focusing on implementing a specific methodology or worse yet going down the rabbit hole of which is the best methodology, I'm going to focus on the Idea Pump approach - managing expectations.

Arguments can be made that project success is dependent on resource utilization percentages or estimated time to completion, but when you boil it down the key expectation is to get the jobs done. In the Idea Pump approach I follow the CAR model:  Capture, Act, Report.  It sounds too simple for larger projects but think about it carefully.  No matter what the project size, there is an expectation of you to get the work you are assigned finished and for others to do the same.  Using any project management solution is an application of CAR, just on varying scales.

What's the right size for Springpad?

Springpad, while a very flexible and powerful tool, is not a project management tool by design.  There is a great deal of functionality that a formal project manager would be missing when using a tool such as Springpad.  Does this preclude it from use?  Not in the least.  If you remember the Idea Pump approach, focusing on Capture - Act - Report, all the core features you need are there within Springpad including many that enhance your project management beyond basic steps.  Let's break some of them down.

Capture

One of the most common expectations in project management are requirements.  What do the project stakeholders expect when the project is completed?  How will it work? What will it look like, etc.?  You can use formalized documents such as requirements traceability matrixes for detailed tracking and planning, but what if your needs aren't quite so rigid?  Task Springs combined with Tags can be an excellent combination of identifying requirements, discussing them, and then marking them as complete when done.  Project documents can be stored in Springpad or stored in external file shares and attached as web links to Notes.  Milestones can be recorded using Task Springs or Events for tracking related to dates.  You can even library images for the requirements using the Photo Spring.  It all comes down to managing the expectation of Capture.  Things needing to be done will be recorded for action and reporting.

Act

Get the work done.  It's an expectation that needs no description.  What it does need is a way to track who is doing what, and when it will be complete.  Using some of the same structures we used in Capture, we can track tasks that need to be completed, checklists that need to be worked, and collaborative notes as the project pushes forward.  Action is a dynamic function of project management and as such the management of actions needs to be dynamic.  Applying Tags in Springpad allow you to track item owners, project phases, even when you're waiting on someone else.  Through the use of filters and sorts you can create the subsets of data that give you a strong control over managing to the expectations of the project.

Report

Sharing of the information about the project expectations and how they are being met is critical to the success of any project.  Whether the sharing is with yourself or with a large group of stakeholders access to what's going on when you need it is a must.  I've never been, nor ever will be, an advocate to reporting structures that focus more on the project manager performing in-depth CYA rather than getting things done.  Using the collaborative capabilities of Springpad, individual Springs and whole notebooks can be shared so everyone on the team is working together and meeting the expectations of the stakeholders as well as the team at large.

Now that we've established a basic approach to managing our projects, we're ready for part two...setting things up in Springpad.

Google Drive or Springpad - Image text search

One of the strengths of the Evernote platform is it's ability to render text in images searchable.  Now I don't use that feature too often, but when I do, it comes in handy.  The challenge is, how to you reproduce the same functionality in other places.  Google Drive has released the same capability on images and PDFs uploaded into your Drive space, so I thought this would be a good place to start.  The problem arises from the obvious though...these are two disconnected systems.

The solution I came up with is to use Springpad as a gateway to deep links into my Google Drive account.  By putting items to be searched and scanned in common folders in Google Drive and linking to those folders using Springpad, it only takes a couple of steps to do an image search for content within Google Drive.  Again, you're bouncing back and forth between two systems so it's not a perfect solution, but it does provide the opportunity to leverage some of the functionality.

There are some features that would be nice to have, such as the image thumbnails show up in Springpad from Google Drive.  One bonus of use Google Drive for files rather than Springpad is that I can edit many of those files in Google Drive where I can't edit them in Springpad.

The balancing act between form and functionality, single solution and composite, perfect and good enough is a perpetual thing in the productivity space.  Spend time finding what will work for you rather than finding what someone defined as the best answer for you and you will be far more successful in your endeavors.

Google Drive Search and Springpad - Tip for Friday

Here's a quick trick you can do to leverage Google Drive from your Springpad account:

  1. Go into Google Drive and perform a search that you might usually do.  For example, search for the word "Receipts"
  2. When Google Drive returns the results, copy the URL from your browser
  3. Go into Springpad and create a Link Spring
  4. Paste the URL from Google Drive into the Link Spring
  5. Note - It will not generate a proper title so you will need to complete the Spring then go back in and edit the title
Now you can open the Spring in Springpad and then click on the "View in Google Drive" link to see the search results.