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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:

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The End of Springpad

There is a lot of rumor circulating about the end of Springpad as a service and a company.   While there are a number of things I’m aware of that I can’t and won’t comment on (business topics that really aren’t my area) being one of the largest users of Springpad there are a number of points I can touch on.
Any service can go away at any time.   We’ve seen this with Google and dozens of other companies in the Internet space.   As users we struggle and complain, but so often forget these companies are made up of people who have dedicated countless hours to build a service they believed could not only be a success but also help and contribute to others.   To watch something like that unravel from the inside is incredibly painful and frustrating for those in the business.  
Over a month ago Springpad reached out to me as the founder of the Google+ user community and host of the Springpad Show to let me know things were in the works for a major change.   They wanted a user engaged in the process to make sure the concerns of their community, which they have spent years cultivating, were addressed in the best way possible.   Working hand in hand with them we’ve been able to test options and come up with strategies to help you move forward with your information.
More real information, not speculation, will be coming shortly.  I know they are doing their best in what is the worst possible time for a business.  If we work together with patience and cooperation we’ll all be able to move forward.

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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

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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.

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Improve Productivity using Multiple Notebooks in Springpad

One of the challenges I have found in personal productivity solutions is a propensity to limit the options I have in how I want to structure the organization of my information.  The notebook metaphor so commonly used by productivity tools often follows too closely to their real world counterparts.  For some reason, in many cases, the decision was made that when you have a piece of information you put it into a notebook to keep it organized.  One notebook.  No more, no less.  Why?

We are dealing with virtual information here and the constraints of the physical world do not apply.  Why can’t something exist in two, three, or more places at once?  Recurrently I have found one of the greatest strengths of the Springpad solution is it’s ability to allow springs (notes) to be kept in multiple notebooks.  This opens the doors to many possibilities:
  1. Springs shared between project notebooks and customer notebooks
  2. Collaborative notebooks and archive notebooks for backing up information
  3. Using notebooks for process flow of notes
  4. Combining notebooks and tags for rapid and comprehensive organization of notes
  5. Sharing of content between private and public notebooks
These are just a few of the ways you can leverage multiple notebooks in Springpad.  Here’s a practical example:  projects and customers.
If you’re using Springpad for business (one of the ways I use it) you can create notebooks for types of projects and for customers, then assign notes to both for easy access.  I have notebooks for major projects going on as well as for key customers as their projects progress.  By combining those with tags identifying the project and the customer, I’m able to leverage the notebooks as long as I need for quick reference, then move the notes to long term storage in other notebooks all through just a few clicks.
Productivity is more than cranking widgets.  Instead of turning the gears and going in circles, work the pump and things begin to flow.  Apply creativity to your tools and you will find that being productive is just a couple of ideas away.  Ideas such as multiple notebooks and dynamic organization can make all the difference day to day.
Photo credit: mrbill / Foter.com / CC BY
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Springpad and Project Management – Parts 2 and 3

In Part One I talked about the ideas behind using Springpad for project management.  Now here in Part Two we’ll cover one of the ways to set up your Springpad for just such a purpose.  One of the keys to setting up your Springpad environment for project management is to decide how you will handle notebooks.  My recommendation is to use one notebook per project to make things easier to keep track of and to assign to resources.

Step One – Create a Project Notebook

Inside your new notebook you will want to create some basics springs to organize your project information.  Start with what I like to refer to as, ” the governance spring”.  The idea with this spring is to provide the basic project information as well as a place to create all the tags you will need to manage the other springs you will be creating in this notebook.  If you look below you will see an example of a governance spring setup with basic project information as well as the tags needed for the project.

Beginning of a Governance Spring

At the beginning of the governance note put in the basic details about the project including the project title, project manager, another vital information including major deadlines and deliverable information.  The other important section within the governance note is a section listing all of the tags you will be using.  Tags are the most important part of organizing Springs for a project.  Without a master index, you can lose track of what tags you are using and what relevance they have to the project as a whole.  At a minimum you will need three sets of tags:

1. Resources
2. Status
3. Milestones / Phases

Part 2 of a Governance Spring

Tags – Resources

Using tags to identify what resources have been assigned to the various springs in your notebook makes cross referencing who is doing what much easier later on.  We’ll talk about how to put those to use in Part 3, but for now, just make a list of all the team members you will have on your project.

Tip:  If you have a team that is working on multiple projects, create a notebook for their contact records separate from the project notebook and then just add the contact record to each project notebook they are going to be working in.  This way you have only one contact record to maintain information for

Tags – Status

Aside from Tasks, Springpad doesn’t really have a way to track the status of Springs in a notebook.  By creating Status Tags, you can change the status of a Spring just by changing the tags that are assigned to it.  This also gives you the option to filter all the Springs of a particular status for easy reference and modification.

Tip:  If you want to have an easy time organizing your statuses, I recommend the following format:

“Status-1-status

Put the statuses in numerical order as they sequentially progress through to completion.  By using this format you will be able to filter and sort based on Status and by order of execution.  We’ll cover that in Part 3.

Tags – Milestones / Phases

If you are managing a larger engagement, it is often helpful to break it down into various phases so you can focus on the work at hand rather than being overwhelmed by the full project.  By creating Phase Tags you can assign Springs to various Phases easily and move springs between phases just by changing the tag assignments.

Example Tags for the Governance Spring

Now that you have a note with the core structures you need to get your project organized, we can move on to the next part…putting this all to use.

Part Three – Managing the Project

(please note that not all these tips transfer cleanly to mobile so I’m focusing solely on the web for this post.)

Assigning Resources

First, let’s get your team members connected to the project.  Since you’ve already created tags for them you’re ahead of the curve. Now we just need to make the resource contact information accessible from within the project notebook.  If you created a resource notebook as recommended earlier, you can just go into that notebook and use the Bulk Edit feature to select your team and assign them to your new project.  If you are not using a master resource notebook you will need to create a contact record for each resource in your project notebook.

Note:  Make sure you assign the tag with the resource’s name to the resource note.  Without that when you filter for everything connected to a resource later you won’t have an easy way to get to the complete resource record.

Tracking Tasks and Checklists

There’s a big functional difference between tasks and checklists in the Springpad world, so I suggest you decide carefully as to which is appropriate for the work at hand.  Tasks can have due dates and each task is it’s own Spring.  To me, this is good for significant items on a project, especially deliverables.  You can track when they are completed, their status (by changing the status tag you created earlier) and assigning them directly to resources.

Checklists are best used in cases when procedures or processes need to be followed but not to a line item level.  Something like a review checklist, production process, or communications plan fit well into this structure.  Since checklists are Springs you can assign a checklist to a resource and track the status of the whole list through the same process as you do for the other lists.

Filtering and Sorting – Pulling it all together

Being able to see what you need, when you need it is really the key to the entire implementation.  Here are my favorite tricks to making this happen:

Springs Assigned to Resources

  1. Switch to List View Grouped by Type
  2. Click in the Search box and select the tag for the resource want to filter
You now have a list of all the Springs for this project that you have assigned to this resource

Updating Statuses on Springs

  1. From the View Selection drop down, change to List View and then select Bulk Edit
  2. Select the items you want to assign a status to and then click on Tag As and select the Status tag you want to assign to the selected items
Example:

Changing Status on a Spring

  1. Repeat the steps listed for Updating Statuses but this time remove the Status Tag that doesn’t apply and then add the new tag you want for the updated Status

Organizing your Springs by Status Tag

  1. Switch to List View Grouped by Type
  2. In the Filter box enter tag:”Status*”
When you press enter you will get back only those Springs that contain any tag beginning with “Status”.  Since we also added the number after the dash, they will show up in the sequence you assigned to the Status Tags to make them easier to review.

Tip:  If you switch to List View Grouped by Tag rather than by type you will wind up with nice sections of each of your statuses to review.  They’re mixed in with groups of the other tags, but they’re not hard to find.

Moving Forward

There are many more tips and techniques I’ll be sharing on how to get the most out of Springpad to manage your projects.  If you have questions or wonder if and how something can be done, just drop a note in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer you.