Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Harness Siri to Capture Your Thoughts and Seamlessly Put Them Into Your GTD System

If you experiment with Siri you will find her both super helpful and terribly insufficient.  I both love and hate Siri for a number of reasons.  Let’s talk about the Siri love.

What I love about Siri for my GTD Productive Lifestyle

As a highly mobile person, I need someone to follow me around, sit in my car while I drive, walk beside me while stroll along, run beside me while I jog and basically capture and transcribe my shallow thoughts and deep thoughts throughout my daily routine.
No one in my house has volunteer for this job and I believe the salary that I’d need to pay someone to be my personal assistant is beyond my current budget constraints.  Therefore I have found Siri to be suitable pseudo personal assistant (in part).

Siri and the First Step of Getting Things Done: Capture Everything

Searching the web to find the perfect Getting Things Done capture application for the mobile device is a simple task because there are many to choose from.  But the daunting task is find the right one that really works for a particular user and routine.
As a busy professional I want technology to be my seamless and effortless servant in my Getting Things Done process architecture.  For the majority of GTD implementers the biggest challenge with Getting Things Done architecture is the Review step.  The second biggest issue is capturing the content in as few inboxes as possible so that you don’t wear yourself out trying to find all the things that you’ve captured.  The intention of making capture seamless and creating fewer inboxes is to make Review easier. 

Therefore GTD implementation would ultimately be easier from start to finish by automating capture as much as possible.  You know that every little simplification in life creates a little space for breathing, so let’s save a little time and reduce complexity in capture.

Siri and Simplification

This is where Siri comes in.  She does an OK job at capturing voice and turning that voice into text for future processing in your Getting Things Done implementation.
Remember that David Allen says the calendar is golden and should always be followed rigorously. your calendar is your highest priority list, so this list will always be a pillar in your system.  So the “Create Appointment” command to Siri is the pathway to organize your time sensitive events.  I often mix capture with process when it comes to the calendar.  In other words, when I realize I have something to schedule, I do it right then and there.  The alternative is to add an item to your inbox so that you will then add an event to your calendar later. I'll use paper when I'm in a meeting, but I use voice commands when walking, running or driving.
If you don’t instantly add something to your calendar in a capture/process moment, then you’ll just want to capture for future processing. Future processing might occur in the next 15 minutes or next 24 hours, but the important thing is to capture seamlessly and Siri does this through “Take Note” command or “Reminder me" command.
Prior to iOS 9.0 IO was a big fan iOS notes because I could combine it with IFTTT to synchronize my personal notes into one single tool.   Notes were great because you could dictate to Siri to capture a note and then an IFTTT rule would run to synchronize the notes with Evernote or Trello or a variety of other tools.  Here’s the weird part. After iOS 9.0, the synchronization only works with hand typed notes but does not work with dictated notes.  Wow that is frustrating.  In iOS 9.0 apple made Notes similar to Evernote by allowing notes to include fancy fonts and pictures, but apple broke the most effective tool that I know which is synchronizing with a GTD inbox such as Evernote or Trello or OmniFocus.

Reminders to the Rescue

As a technology aficionado and mobile app early adopter, I would not give up easily on the voice capture feature because I desperately needed to take notes with voice while on the run or driving.
Through some experimentation I determined that iOS Reminders work almost exactly like Notes.  In some cases even better than notes for my GTD implementation.  Here’s how it work.
Instead of “Take Note…” say “Make Reminder…” or “Remind me to check out Smart Passive Income podcast episode 172” (BTW, that's my current favorite episode).  Siri creates the reminder.  That’s OK, but it’s not in my GTD workflow system (e.g. Evernote, Trello, Omnifocus, etc).  What we need is a mechanism to put every captured thought or action into our regular system.  Let’s say the system we use is Trello (my favorite at this time).  You need an assistant to seamless transfer items from Reminders to Trello, Evernote or something else.

IF THIS THEN THAT Completes the Loop

http:/ifttt.comIf This Then That (IFTTT) is an incredible service that can help you connect various systems in your life. Technology has not aspired to the level of Star Trek where I can ask the computer to create an entire life management system and connect all the pieces together, but IFTTT is a serious step forward.  A core component of IFTTT is the recipe and within these recipes a person can literally plug together an amazing amount of disparate systems.  IFTTT is truly amazing in terms of the permutations of functionality that is achievable.
To close the loop I used IFTTT to synchronize my iOS reminders with a specific Trello Board and specific list.  If you were using Evernote, you would select a specific folder to drop in new reminders.
IFTTT runs in the background as intervals you decide and collects your Reminders into the target application.  In the meantime, you can continue to use Evernote to capture typed notes or you can convert all your typing and dictation to Reminders and only use Evernote for picture capture.  I find Evernote to be couple taps longer than Reminders, so I just use Reminders for everything except photo capture.

Review Your Inbox

After fixing up the IFTTT recipe and capturing your notes verbally or hand typed, you have a collection of things to process. This collection of stuff is in one place instead of possibly two or three.
Please try Reminders audio capture and let me know your experience?
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