From Idea Sandbox: The Prioritizer

Idea Sandbox Helps You Be Remarkable
Prioritizer is the way to prioritize three or more items! Get yourself in order. If you like Prioritizer, you may also enjoy using Big Dig problem solving tool, also from Idea Sandbox.

I have wasted so many man hours (or monkeyman hours!) researching GTD and Zen Habits and Flylady techniques. In the end. All I need to know is what to do next, based on what is most important.

The pulsing brain behind Idea Sandbox, Paul Williams, has provided another simple on-line tool that helps get me set to tackle my to-do list... in order of priority!

(Believe me, that is a huge change!)

The Point: Web 2.0 tool for creating your own change


The Point brings together problems, people, and the pressure of collective action. The site allows users to create campaigns and encourage other people to join anonymously.

Using the principles of Gladwell's Tipping Point, once the number of members reaches a certain critical mass (10, 50, 2000) and action is triggered: a sale, a press release, a protest.

Campaigns are tools for people to organize a group action that occurs only when enough people join to make participation worthwhile. Campaigns can be used for any situation where people want safety in numbers, from planning a party to boycotting a corporation to saving chickens.

Check out the simple, clever animations used to demonstrate the types of people, the problems they want to tackle, and the resulting campaigns--that can use The Point to catalyze change.

clipped from

Make Something Happen.


The Point is a platform for group action, helping you make things happen that you couldn't accomplish alone.

Your Boss Is a Monkey

This Fast Company article was inspired by a woman who studied animal trainers who could teach whales not to spit, dolphins to jump through hoops, and monkeys to ride skateboards. She asked herself: "What if I used those techniques on my husband?!"

The Heath brothers, authors of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die apply this approach to another irritable mammal: your boss.

Their suggestion: "Maybe you should start treating him or her like an exotic animal."

clipped from

Exotic-animal trainers need a great poker face. Let's say you're a trainer, and one day, a beluga whale spits a mouthful of cold water at you. Your first instinct will be to shriek or jump or curse, but any reaction will probably reinforce the spitting. If you react, that whale will own you, and you'll be a Spit Bull's-eye for the rest of your life. Instead, you must ignore it and appear unfazed, expressionless -- a training technique called "least-reinforcing scenario," or LRS.

Animal trainers have a saying: It's never the animal's fault. That means you can't blame an animal for something the trainer has failed to do. Similarly, you can't fault your boss's bad behavior when you've failed to use some of the primary principles of training. Rule one, as we've seen with the yeller, is to ignore bad behavior.

If you've ever grudgingly tossed your dog a french fry after 15 minutes of begging, you've taught the dog a lesson -- persistence pays. So what are you inadvertently teaching your boss?

blog it

Monkey Management for Project Teams

Goal of Time Management:
Get control over the timing and content of what you do.

Wait... what's that on your back? Could that be a Monkey? In the course of our working days all of us acquire duties, chores and tasks.

Some of them are important and they need to be addressed so that we can finish our deliverables. Others must be considered as "Monkeys" - tasks that we got stuck with and now don't seem to be able to get rid of even though we might not be the right person to take care of them. And we all wonder - how did I get stuck with this?

Mike Graupner, PMP ( describes to us today the techniques he uses to address the Monkeys in his life. We talk about Monkey Management in general and we also look at how this translates into managing the Monkeys on your projects.

In addition to the law of monkey management, the authors list six rules of managing monkeys that are instructive to managers. These include:

1. Monkeys should be fed or shot. No one likes the consequences of a starving monkey. They tend to be very disagreeable and squeal and raise a ruckus. Monkeys must be fed periodically; in this analogy, the problem must be dealt with between the manager and the employee with the problem on a regular basis. If the monkey can be shot (the problem solved quickly), then feeding times are not necessary.

2. Every monkey should have an assigned next feeding time and a degree of initiative. After a feeding session, the manager should select an appropriate time for the next feeding and should have a number of action steps for the employee to take. "Can we meet next Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. to see how things are going and what we should do next?"

3. The monkey population should be kept below the maximum number that the manager has time to feed. The authors suggest that it should take 15 minutes to feed a monkey, and that managers should keep the list of problems that are in various stages of solution at a manageable number.

4. Monkeys should fed by appointment only. Allowing employees to bring problems to you on their timetable increases the chances that the monkey will move from the employee to the manager. By setting specific times for addressing the problem, managers empower employees to make interim decisions about the problem, and still report back.

5. Monkey feeding appointments may be rescheduled but never indefinitely postponed. Either party, the manager or the subordinate, may reschedule a feeding appointment for any reason, but it must be scheduled to a specific time to avoid losing track of the monkey.

6. Monkeys shall be fed face to face or by telephone, but not in writing. Holding feeding sessions via e-mail or memo transfers the monkey to the manager. An employee can pass the monkey to the manager by simply requesting a response. Feedings that take place in person or on the phone require the monkey to remain with the employee unless the supervisor takes an affirmative step to take it.

Proper delegation skills, properly applied as suggested in this creative approach, can help managers better solve problems and develop their employees' problem solving skills. Visualizing each problem as a monkey that is impatient and noisy can help managers see problems as they really are and address them in the best possible way. Beware of the monkeys that may come into your life today!

Full spectrum attention management

The comment at the bottom of this article sums it up: "This is THE best blog post about a GTD implementation I have read so far."

Katherine Doubek is an engineer, artist, and writer living in the American south and studies artificial intelligence at the University of Texas at Arlington. This post is a fantastic summary on personal project management and electronic organization for the Mac OS.

David Allen’s Getting Things Done system (book) allows busy people to manage their attention, energy, priorities, and tasks in a simple, straight-forward manner. It’s discussed and reviewed in a number of places online, but example setups aren’t presented frequently. This article outlines my personal GTD setup, and how you can adapt it to help track your time and attention investments.

GTD Workflow Diagram

I keep all information with me at all times which I may need to be able to reference on short notice, such as my portfolios, codebase, and medical history. This stays in a folder on my Mac’s desktop:

Local archive folder layout

If you’re interested, I’ve compiled a PDF of the full taxonomy of my archive folder for you to download and reference.