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productivitymashup.com

Productivity hacks weekly in bite-size chunks. Just up your alley if you're at least slightly geeky or a tad bit obsessed with Evernote or WorkFlowy!

Daedalus Touch & Kanban Calendar: The writer's workbench

Frank Degenaar

Some prefer to manage their tasks in WorkFlowy simply because they do a lot of outlining and writing there. Others prefer Evernote for their to-do lists because that's where their reference/ project material is, while some smart academics may use Gingko app because they outline their papers there and want to have quick access to their tasks. There are many apps that have multiple latent functions and are flexible enough to take on both your tasks and your creative work. A gorgeously minimalistic writing app for iOS, Daedalus Touch - the self-dubbed "World's Sexiest Writing App" - is one such candidate.

Reimagine 

If your main thing is writing, why not use a writing app to house your tasks? In sticking to the 2 core Kanban principles: (1) Visualize your workflow and (2) Limit your work in progress, this post showcases Daedalus Touch's ability to be a serious contender in my Kanban Calendar task management system. Read about the basics here. Also, see examples of other apps here. As in previous posts - and many to come - we can reinvent a new incarnation of Personal Kanban, now in Daedalus Touch. Even if you're not at all inclined to use this app for task management, let a little something different inspire you to new ways of doing things - or at least pique your curiosity. 

Daedalus Touch is all about unlimited sets of sheets within paper stacks. It's about flipping through your individual sheets and stacks at breakneck warp speed. It's all about using iOS gestures to the max to zoom into and out of wherever you want. I sometimes just open Daedalus to flip through and tinker. That's how addictive it is.

From mythology to touchability

In Greek mythology, Daedalus ("to work artfully"), was a skilled Athenian craftsman and artist. Notably, he was also the father of Icarus. He fashioned two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for himself and his son. What I wanted to point out is that besides crafting workable wearable wings for both himself and Icarus, Daedalus is also mentioned by Homer as being the architect behind the Labyrinth on Crete in which the Minotaur was kept, as well as masterminding the masts and sails for the navy of Minos (to name just a couple of achievements).

In Homer's language, daidala are finely crafted objects. Not only is the writing app, Daedalus Touch, a finely crafted work of art in itself, but is also, in the same vein, a beautifully practical app within which to house your creative writing. We're going to see how it can also house your lists of tasks... and how one can effortlessly zoom in and out of different paper stacks within the app, unlike the impossibly difficult Labyrinth on Crete. Daedalus Touch gives us the ability to get a sweeping bird's-eye view - Kanban Calendar style.

To help us navigate the Labyrinth of ideas we have constantly streaming into our minds and to get unstuck, Daedalus Touch provides us with a metaphorical ball of thread - iOS gestures that allow us to pinch to zoom out of sheets and stacks to see the bigger picture... and then hone in on another paper stack and its gallery of sheets.

 

A gallery of sheets for our Kanban Calendar

You will notice that this edition of Kanban Calendar closely resembles the Kanbana app I featured a few weeks ago. Instead of panels, we now have sheets. Instead of dragging and dropping, one now cuts and pastes. One interesting difference in Daedalus Touch is that each day in the calendar section now includes an Eisenhower priority matrix. This helps us to give a little thought to each task we transfer or input.

As you take a look at the video clip, you will see how Daedalus consists of as many sheets in as many stacks as you want to create. Another way of structuring the Kanban Calendar would be to create 2-3 stacks instead of just one. I prefer one consolidated stack. Either way, one is able to transfer any sheet to another stack by simply docking it to the bottom of the interface. 

The basic setup

The video clip gives a general sweep of the entire Kanban Calendar setup. As always, there are 3 definitive sections:

  1. A Backlogged/ Projects section for all unfinished projects and miscellaneous tasks, organized by category or context. 
  2. The Today section, including our prioritization stages. I like the Eisenhower Matrix. Others prefer the 1-3-5 rule, among others.  Here one can also include the Kanban "Doing" and "Done" stages. Go to town on whatever stages you need to get the job done.
  3. A Calendar section
  • Enabling us to push excessive tasks to, which would otherwise clutter up our day and our focus. This goes a long way in keeping our Work In Progress in the Today section manageable. 
  • Notably, the main function of the Calendar section is to "pull" tasks into the Today section as each date comes around, one at a time: each day we transfer the tasks from the next day into the priority system we've got going for Today's tasks.
  • Once any recurring weekly or monthly tasks are completed they can then also get pushed to the next due date in the calendar. This way, one does not have to set due dates for recurring tasks. It's hands-on all the way. 

Complex projects - Kanban within Kanban Calendar

You may have noticed in the video clip that one of the projects I had going was my blog setup. Each sheet in Daedalus Touch can become a Personal Kanban board in itself. The most basic stages one would have in Kanban would be: "Backlogged"/ "To Do", "Doing" and "Done". I also created:

  • A "Waiting" for stage - For technical issues that only the Squarespace platform staff could resolve and get back to me on. Basically any delegated stuff that I had my hands tied on.
  • A "Later" stage - to help me separate tasks that did not need to be done before the launch of my blog. This helped me to put first things first.
  • A "Resolved" stage - any delegated tasks that had been completed.

The above is a classic case of using the Personal Kanban system the way many recognize it. We don't want to stop there, though. We want to be able to tie in and consolidate multiple projects as well as miscellaneous daily tasks in a visual way. That's where the Kanban Calendar system comes in handy. It's visualizing the workflow of all of our stuff to do - not just for projects. What one does to achieve this, is simply to have any project(s) we are working on represented by the project's name in the Kanban Calendar. That will be our reference to an external/ separate task board for any particular project.

A common thread of tags

Since we're looking at a writing app here, there is a full-on search feature at out disposal, which also doubles up in the GTD department to narrow down our contexts and tags. In the video above you will have seen the #exp (expense) tag, which gives a search count on each stack cover and highlights all instances in each sheet for easily locating multiple tagged items wherever they may be. Plus we have a next/ previous button to jump to the next/ previous instance if we're not up to swiping or scrolling.

Keeping your head about you

One neat little trick we can do in Daedalus Touch, is to dock the "Doing" stage from the Today section of our Kanban Calendar to the bottom of the sheet gallery interface. It stays there no matter what stack we open, and is an ever-present, constant reminder of the one or two things we are (or should be) working on at any given time. In any Kanban system, the idea is to follow through with the parameters and guidelines we've set up - and in so doing, neither fly too high and too close to the sun (like the distracted Icaro) nor too low and too close to the ocean. We aim to work within what is reasonable and doable. 

On a similar note... just to save some poor soul from typing out the Eisenhower matrix on every Calendar sheet - do yourself a favor and copy an entire template sheet and paste it on multiple sheets. Also, if you have an iPad or iPhone, you should be able to use Siri to dictate not only the date headers of each sheet... but also your tasks.

Last, but not least - The "Soulmen" have an app for Mac - Ulysses - which integrates with Daedalus Touch - making this setup ubiquitous if you're an Apple fan.

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