Remember The Milk: Posting Directly from Your Desktop

In a recent post, we talked about 6 Ways to Add A Task to Remember The Milk. While the methods discussed were varied and useful, I was not satisfied with any of them. This post will show you another quick method to handle this.

I have very simple criteria for being able to add tasks to my ToDo list:

  • It must be quick
  • It must not disturb my current work flow
  • It must be reliable

I had almost satisfied all of these using the solution involving Launchy, Curl, and Twitter. Launchy is probably the fastest desktop launcher available for Windows. So the procedure went like this:

  • Launchy pops up instantly when I hit ALT+Space
  • I type in “rtm<TAB>Task Description<ENTER>” (rtm is just a batch file in my path)
  • The task is added to my Remember The Milk Inbox list via Twitter

If we review the last item on my list of criteria, we see that our posting method needs to be reliable. Well, Twitter shouldn’t even be in the same sentence. I have actually been burned before using this setup, as you can read about in my post How Twitter Keeps Me from Getting Things Done.

So, how do we make it better? I had to find a way to get Twitter out of the picture. If you recall, You can add tasks to Remember The Milk via email. All I needed was a way to shoot off an email to RTM from within Launchy. Problem solved, right? Well…not really. GMail apparently makes this slightly more complicated.

This is about to get pretty technical, but I will try to break it down as simple as I can. If I don’t do a good job, please leave a comment and I will be happy to help 🙂

Download, Install, and Configure “Stunnel”

We need Stunnel so that we can communicate with the Gmail server securely. From the website:

Stunnel is a program that allows you to encrypt arbitrary TCP connections inside SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) available on both Unix and Windows.

So, here is what we need to do:

  • Download Stunnel from the Binaries Page. The version I used is 4.25 (direct download link)
  • Run the installer and hit “Close” once complete
  • Now, edit C:\Program Files\stunnel\stunnel.conf
  • Replace the “Service Options” section with the following:

[SMTP Gmail]
accept =
connect =

[POP3 Gmail]
accept =
connect =

  • From the same directory, run the command “stunnel -install”
  • Then run the command “net start stunnel”

Download, Install, and Configure “Blat”

We need Blat so that we can send email right from the command line.

Blat is a Win32 command line utility that sends eMail using SMTP or post to usenet using NNTP.

  • Get Blat from here:
  • Open the archive and stick “blat.exe” into C:\Windows\System32\ or somewhere else in your path
  • Run the command: blat -install

Configure Launchy

You already have Launchy, right? If not, you are probably not working very efficiently, you are on a MAC, or both. Go ahead and fire it up now.

  • Open Launchy’s Options dialog (click the gear), go to Plugins and click Runner.
  • Hit the “+” button to add a new command
  • Enter something nifty for the Name (“rtm”, maybe?)
  • In the Program field, Enter the path to the Blat executable: C:\Windows\System32\blat.exe
  • In the Arguments field, Enter the following:

– -body ” ” -subject “$$” -to [Your unique RTM Email Address] -u [Gmail Username] -pw [Gmail Password] -f [Your Gmail Address] -server

  • Hit “Ok,” we’re done here

Make sure you include the preceding “-” and the space between the quotes for the body argument. To find your unique Remember The Milk email address, login to RTM and go to Settings->Info. You want the Inbox Email Address.


Now, you can hit ALT+Space (or whatever key you have it set to), type “rtm<TAB>task<ENTER>” and you have just added a task to Remember The Milk without even breaking stride.

Being able to quickly dump tasks/ideas out of your head and into your organization system of choice is pretty important. Without doing this, you will never get anything done because you won’t ever know what to do.

More often than not, you are going to be in the middle of something when an idea strikes you for something else that you need to capture. As we all know, if you get interrupted, it takes about 10 minutes or so to find your place and get back into the groove.

This is why I have been so anal about this specific facet of my system. I don’t believe there is a faster way, short of direct brain-to-computer communication, to capture your thoughts to your to-do list.

How do you make sure you can capture things at all times? Do you have a better method than me? I’d like to hear about it. Leave me a comment.

A Leader Doesn’t Care What You Think

Leaders of the packDo you find yourself worrying about how others perceive you? Are you often embarrassed or anxious about others judging you? If so, you definitely have some work to do. Your success in life is contingent on your ability to ignore others and focus on “doing you.”

In her post, What People Think of Me is None of My Business, Samsara offers details on why some people tend to worry so much about the opinions of others. She also offers various methods you can apply to avoid this type of thinking.

What does this really have to do with being successful? If you are focused on what others think about you, that small voice of intuition that nudges you toward your goals may be ignored. You will take actions based on what others expect of you rather than what you feel is right. You have just become a follower. Congratulations! I’ll be taking your leadership badge now. Get back in line, please.

A leader leads. They move on, unerringly, toward their goal. They don’t look back to see if anyone is coming with them or to conduct a poll on what to do next. A leader is too busy achieving things and covering new ground to worry about what people think of them.

Do you care what others think?

Would You Still Love Me If I Post for Pay?

I have to admit that the I was turned on to blogging because I wanted to make money. I kept reading about it being a good way to market online, but it also held a special attraction for me because, well….I’m a geek. Now that I have been blogging for a few months, I realize that I would much rather blog about whatever I find interesting and the “monetary gain” part has taken a back seat. BUT…I still gotta pay the bills, right?

Enter the PayPerPost blog network. I know…you’re already groaning and rolling your eyes. PayPerPost (aka IZEA) is definitely not the most respected company in the blogging community. They don’t require you to mention the fact that a post was written for money, so this opens up a whole can of worms regarding blogger respect and credibility. Which brings us back to my original question: Would You Still Love Me If I Post for Pay?

The answer is that I’m going to do it anyway. I care about my readers and their opinions, but I have mouths to feed. I try to provide the best possible content that I can with every post that I write. I aim to educate, train, inform, and entertain. If I find avenues where I can get some up-front money to cover a topic of interest, wouldn’t I be an absolute moron not to take it? So, here are the rules:

  • I will write posts for pay
  • I will not write about things that have nothing to do with my blog
  • I will blatantly flag these posts as being paid for
  • I will make sure that these posts only serve to further the goals of this blog

I’m not just going to turn my blog into a steamy, spammy trash sludge of product reviews and blatant advertisements for the sake of earning money. Quality is very important to me and I would like to make sure it is not compromised.

From where I sit, this is a good opportunity to get paid for doing what I love. I keep seeing PayPerPost all across the blogosphere, even on blogs that don’t suck, so it’s gotta be worth something.

It’s ultimately up to you, isn’t it, my faithful reader? Do you trust me? Have my past actions shown me to be a respectable and honorable person? Do you think I would jeopardize my personal brand for a quick buck? Do you post for pay?

Feel free to respond in the comments…

UBD Money Maker Theme and Expected Blog Content

Unique Blog Designs recently released the UDB MoneyMaker Theme, which I promptly installed and modified for my own evil desires. For some strange reason, it really caught my eye and I had to have it.

A quick list of things I hacked:

The funny thing here is that I had also decided that this wouldn’t be a Money Maker blog. I mean, how many of those can really succeed? I like money, I like making money, but I also like Social Media and Web 2.0 and those things are much more interesting to talk about for me.

To lay it all out there for you, my faithful reader, I will be blogging mostly about Social Media and Web 2.0 as they relate to self-improvement and increasing quality of life. There will be a focus on organization, motivation, marketing, and home business.

I can never stress enough how important it is to educate yourself, learn to use new tools and do new things. Once you have a base of “book smarts”, there is no telling where imagination can take you, and this is where success flows. I want to help others get there.

Stop Trying To Hit Me and HIT ME!

Stop Trying to Hit Me and HIT ME!

The battle rages. Each exchange of fists and kicks more vicious than the last. They attack and defend and defend and attack. Relentlessly searching for an opening or weakness. Suddenly, one pauses and screams, “Stop trying to hit me and HIT ME!” He is not so much the Master as he is the Motivator. He wants his pupil to give all that he has and hold nothing back. To realize that he can accomplish much more than he thinks he can.

Most of you will recognize this as a scene from The Matrix. Morpheus and Neo fight in a training simulator and Morpheus tries to push Neo to another level, believing that Neo is “The One.” This is not simply a scene from a movie, though. It is a battle that we all fight within ourselves. Read these questions carefully:

  • Do you find yourself getting in your own way?
  • Do you allow your fear to stop you before you start?
  • Do you doubt your abilities?

Well? Do you? The easiest way to fail is to never try. It’s even acceptable in our society to some extent. But, we all have the power to become “The One.” We all have the ability to take control of our thoughts, turn them to the positive side, and ignore fear and doubt. It’s a simple mental exercise of will. You simply have to realize truth…there is no spoon.

Nike probably has one of the most successful ad slogans: “Just Do It.”
One of the reasons it works so well is because it tugs at something
deep inside of all of us. That action-driven, fearless and confident
part of us that yearns to come out and push us inevitably to success. Just do it! Take action!

You haven’t fallen short of your goals because you are a failure. You have fallen short because you quit before you were ahead. You have the talent and the skills. You have all the knowledge you need. Stop stalling and making excuses. There is nothing stopping you but you.

From this day forward, you have to seize opportunity and run with it until you feel like your lungs are filled with molten lava and the back of your throat tastes like you’ve been sucking on pennies. Learn to take action and never let another opportunity pass you by.

I can recall several occasions where I could have taken a relatively simple action and changed the course of my life ever-so-slightly. Maybe it was someone I should have called back, or some project I chose not to be a part of. All because I was afraid of what might happen. I stood bathed in the glow of the oncoming headlights of FAIL and I froze.

The worst thing you can ever do is not try. If you try and you fail, it’s a learning experience. You can look back fondly on failures once they have taken you to your success. If you fail and you never tried, it will haunt you forever.

Sponsorship Is How This Works, Stop Hating

I always try to see the best in people. I always want to give someone the benefit of the doubt. I mean, we all have the capacity for rational thought, right?

It’s very disheartening to me that so many people believe a blogger somehow loses their credibility once they become sponsored. Some of us just don’t have six-figure incomes behind our blogging efforts. Hell, some bloggers are barely working with five figures. Steven Hodson explains the situation pretty well in his post There’s Web 2.0 and Then There’s Reality:

One thing is more than apparent when you look in on Web 2.0 and the constant chatter about all the cool hardware, software and ideas. The majority involved in this space have no idea of what being on the other side of the technological divide is like or how it is limiting the adoption of the things they believe in. They talk about dropping a couple of grand on a new laptop in the same way they I would order breakfast or they line up to fork over a couple of hundred for a new cell phone without even blinking an eye. For them the connection is forever flowing whether through never ending broadband connectivity or wireless goodness. On the other side of the fence though real life has a habit of slapping you back to reality and your position in it.

In most other realms, being "sponsored" or advertising to gain revenue is readily accepted as a natural means to be able to do what you want in life:

  • Girl Scouts sell cookies door-to-door
  • Musicians seek deals with major labels
  • Young athletes dream of being drafted
  • Aspiring writers look to get published

Of course, there are those haters out there who think you have to sell your soul to the devil in order to get a sponsor, or get signed by a major label. These people that are leery of  anything that remotely looks like you might be taking a step up from obscurity. They are certain that you will have to bow to the Sponsorship Overlords and you can no longer be trusted. Those people should just cock those tin-foil hats to the side and take a long walk off a short pier.

It seems that if you run a relatively small blog, you are not allowed to step outside a certain realm of acceptable revenue methods. AdSense and other advertising networks are your place. Steven says it plainly here:

It seems that unless you are a part of a blog network or some big name blogger the idea that you would even think of stepping beyond the bounds of ad networks and god forbid go looking for deals of your own then you are stepping beyond your pay grade and need to be put back in your place. The most common method of slapping forward looking independent bloggers back into place is by calling their ethics into question. (full article)

Now, I am new to all this blogging stuff. Sure, LiveJournal says I’ve had a blog since 2004-05-13 08:24:15, but I only started blogging seriously within the past few months. Maybe there is something that I’m missing. Maybe this whole idea makes sense to all you veterans.

As far as I’m concerned, this whole attitude is bull. No matter what you’re doing in your life, you need a way to fund it. Some people have jobs, some have been successful as entrepreneurs, some are just spoiled.

There are others of us who simply have not been as fortunate. Those of us who haven’t even seen an iPhone in real life, who are tied to computers as old as the web itself, who look at gadgets on tech blogs and realize they will really be nothing more than eye-candy.

Why should the "little guy" get shafted? Why should I be restricted in seeking funding for the things I want to continue doing? Why can’t I be allowed to pull myself up by my bootstraps? Are you going to open up your own wallet to help me reach my goals? If not, who the hell are you to judge?

Please, I Can Has Firefox 3.0?

Please, I Can Has Firefox?

Firefox 3.0 was supposed to drop today. As you may recall, the Mozilla team wanted to break a download record with this release. I guess they promoted this contest a little too well because everybody and their Grandma decided to download it at the same time and the mozilla servers have yet to recover.

There are various convos on FriendFeed regarding this FAIL by Mozilla. (here is Scobel’s convo Firefox Down)

Thanks to Bwana Mcall, we have direct download links for Firefox 3.0 in another FriendFeed convo.

We also have a link to Watch the Mozilla guys live on Mogulus, which spurred this hilarious convo. Stefen Haden had me rolling with his comment.

Some people were not all happy with the communities heckling of Mozilla for their FAIL, but I think it’s all in good fun.


Just got this email from “Firefox Download Day” and the link actually worked. Probably just a fluke:

Today you’ll make history with Firefox

Are you ready to make history? Are you ready to set a World Record? Today is Download Day. To become part of the official Guinness World Record you must download Firefox 3 by 17:00 UTC on June 18, 2008, or roughly 24 hours from now.

How to Keep Your To-Do List So Fresh and So Clean…Clean

It’s amazing how the little things make a difference. Especially when it comes to your To-Do list. I found that I had a few items on my list that just kept getting pushed back. It’s not as if they were impossible feats or anything, but I couldn’t really put my finger on why they wouldn’t go away. Then I realized why they seemed to insurmountable: They were Projects, not Tasks. I was making things look harder than they actually were and my brain was automatically disregarding them.

It seems silly when I think about it now. Here are some examples of the things I had on my list:

  • Clean the bathroom
  • Burn Movies to CD
  • Design a new Workout Program

At first glance, this list looks fine. If we look closer, we can see where I ran into problems.

Break Things Down

Let’s look at my first item, “Clean the bathroom.” This seems like a pretty innocuous thing to put on a To-Do list. I look at this item and I think to myself, “All I gotta do is go in there and clean the mirror, wipe the sink, scrub the toilet, sweep/vacuum the hardwood floors….Wait a Minute! This isn’t as simple as I thought!”

I automatically bypassed this task every time I saw it because it was too complicated to wrap my mind around all at once. Now, when I broke this down into a smaller steps and set it up as a project, it was much easier to deal with. Let’s say we take these steps as what’s needed to clean the bathroom:

  • Clean the mirror
  • Wipe the sink
  • Scrub the tub
  • Scrub Toilet (is there an official smily for “I’m gonna hurl?”)
  • Sweep the floor
  • Mop the floor

Now, I stick these into my Remember The Milk To-Do list and tag them with “.bathroom” so they all show up in their own little Smart List. Now, I tag one of them with “-next” so it shows up in my Context list named “@Home.” (If you have no clue what I’m talking about, check out my series “Supercharge Remember The Milk.”)

Instead of seeing “Clean The Bathroom,” I now see a simple task that won’t even take 5 minutes to do: “Clean the mirror.” I do a small review every-so-often, so at that time I can label another task from this project as “-next.” I sometimes even label all the tasks on the list as “-next,” assuming they don’t depend on each other, as there are task that could be independent and self maintain, for example vacuum the floor, for this I just got a vacuum from Vacuumpal that do the work for me.

Make Sure You Have What It Takes

Burning movies to CD is a simple task for most, but not for me. I can’t burn to a DVD because my laptop is old. I can play DVD’s, but not burn them. The movies have to be converted to VCD, SVCD, or KVCD first. The software I was using to take care of this before had stopped working for some reason.

Whenever I thought about getting this done, I remembered these facts and kept putting it off. I didn’t have the tools I needed to complete the task. I even further confused matters by giving myself too many choices internally: I have an XP laptop that I needed to find software for, or I could try and transfer the files and figure out how to do it on the MAC Mini.

Yeah, I know: Analysis Paralysis, but if I had broken down what needed to be done and added a task to “Download Software to Transcode Movies,” I would have the tools needed to complete the task and could have avoided the whole mess:

  • Find & Download software to convert movies
  • Convert Movies
  • Burn Movies

So much simpler.

Think Things Through

The final item in question here is “Design a new workout program.” I am not a personal trainer, nor do I play one on TV, but I do actually have enough knowledge to design a basic workout program. The problem here is that, at the time I put this on my To-Do List, I had no clue what my goals were regarding working out. I was already doing a basic program and was just bored of it. Along with working out I purchased a flex belt from I have started to already notice my stomach getting flatter.

Every time I sat down or even thought about sitting down and designing a program, I ended up deadlocked because I wasn’t sure what to do. What should have happened was this:

  • Evaluate likes/dislikes about current program
  • Decide what results new program should produce
  • Pick exercises that I enjoy
  • Find/Design new program

This is not exact, but at least I end up with a better idea of what I want to do with myself. I can now either pick a new program based on my research, or just design one based on my goals.


Break things down. If you think about a project as several small and easy tasks, it will get done a lot quicker. This even works on others. Instead of telling your kid to “Clean up Your Room,” break it down into smaller steps and give them a piece at a time. Watch how much easier it gets completed.

Make sure you have what it takes. Don’t commit yourself to completing a task if you don’t even have the tools necessary to do it. Break the task up into a project. You may need to delegate some tasks to others to get what you need.

Think things through. Doing a brain dump is part of getting yourself organized. Get all those random thoughts, tasks and ideas out of your head. Just make sure that you think before you convert those things into full-fledged Next actions.

The key to getting things done is to make everything easier to deal with. Breaking everything into small, bite-sized chunks will help you to accomplish this. If you’ve ever moved or helped anyone move, you can understand how that entertainment center would be a lot easier to lift if it was in small pieces.

Have you run into situations where you bit off more than you could chew? How do you go about breaking down tasks into projects? Tell us about it in the comments.

Supercharge Remember The Milk: 6 Ways to Add a Task

One important thing that will ultimately hold your GTD system together and make it work for you has to be accessibility. In the first and second installment of this series, we discussed how to set up Remember The Milk to handle most of your GTD needs. We also talked about using SMS to access RTM. Here are 6 more ways to access your shiny new system.

This post is the first in a series on Super-Charging Remember The Milk including:

1. Email

When you signed up for Remember The Milk, you received a special unique email address. You can find this address in your confirmation email or on the RTM site in Settings->Info. Just shoot RTM an email at the address provided with your new task as the subject. The body can be empty, or you can use any of the following (quoted from the RTM site):

Priority: 1 or P: 1

Due: Monday at 9am or D: Monday at 9am

Repeat: Every Week or R: Every Week

Estimate: 2 hours or E: 2 hours

Tags: report coffee or S: report coffee

Location: Home or O: Home

URL: or U:

By default, your task will appear in your Inbox. If you want the task to appear in a different list, you can do so with the following:

List: Work or L: Work

Optionally, if you’re unable to specify the subject of your email, you can use the following to specify the task name:

Task: Weekly work meeting or T: Weekly work meeting

Notes can be included at the bottom of the email, but need to be separated with ‘—‘ (three hyphens).

If your email automatically contains a signature or disclaimer that you’d like to prevent being converted into a note, you can include ‘-end-‘ on a line by itself, and everything after this line will be ignored.

2. Instant Messenger

  • Add one of these to your buddy list:
AIM IMified
Google Talk
  • Send it any random message and it will create an account for you and send you back a menu
  • Choose the menu option for My Accounts (should be number 4) and follow the link you receive
  • Add the Remember The Milk widget and send ‘M’ to your IMified buddy
  • You should see a new option for your newly added RTM widget. Have fun 🙂

3. Desktop Launcher

This happens to be my favorite because it doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I can always hit a key combo and immediately add something to RTM. Doing things this way also helps you stay focused because you don’t have to really think about it.

I use a launcher called…well, Launchy. It’s fast and flexible. This particular solution requires that you have RTM set up with Twitter. Go back here if you missed it. Here is how you make Launchy work with Remember The Milk:

  1. Download and install Launchy
  2. Download and install Curl
  3. Download this ZIP and extract it to C:\Program Files\Launchy\Utilities
  4. Edit the file “rtm.bat” and put in your Twitter username and password

Are you on a MAC?

There is a Dashboard widget and a QuickSilver Plugin

Are you on Linux?

Check out this Deskbar Applet.

4. Quick Add

Who doesn’t love bookmarklets? Check out This FAQ for details on setting up your browser. You can watch this video for a demo of how it works.

5. Gmail Plugin

Do you live in Gmail? Go get the Gmail Plugin and integrate it with Remember The Milk.

6. Google Calendar

Put your tasks right on your calendar with This Plugin. Once you add it, just click one of the blue check marks to see what you should be doing.


I use a combination of these at any given time. Primarily, I stick with 3, 5 and 6. Also, there are way more than 6 methods for accessing Remember The Milk. You can find out more information on their website.

Super-Charge Remember The Milk Part Deux

In the first part of my Super-Charge Remember The Milk series, we discussed a method of organizing and processing tasks based on a simple system using Tags and Smart Lists. After reading the post, my mother pointed out two important facts:

  1. I spelled “Super-Charge” wrong
  2. She had no clue WTF I was talking about and she has a CS degree

Since I would like my blog to be understood and helpful to all, I would like to extend my apologies to anyone I managed to confuse (sorry mom). In this installment, I will start off first with a brief introduction to “Getting Things Done” (GTD) and “Remember The Milk” RTM.

This post is the first in a series on Super-Charging Remember The Milk including:

What is Getting Things Done (GTD)?

Don’t worry, we’re not going to get too in-depth here as my good friends over at Black Belt Productivity have already provided an awesome primer with videos. Just to give you a very quick overview:

“It’s possible for a person to have an overwhelming number of things
to do and still function productively with a clear head and a positive
sense of relaxed control.” — David Allen

  • GTD is a book written by David Allen
  • It allows you to get organized by following very basic steps
  • It keeps you from being forced to remember things
  • It makes sure you are moving toward your life goals
  • According to David Allen, a Context describes the tool, location or person that is required to be able to complete an action. We have been starting our tags with “@” to show that it’s a Context.

What is Remember The Milk (RTM)?

Remember The Milk is an awesome To-Do list application. You can access it from their site at Go ahead, sign up for an account. I’ll wait.

All set? Good. Not only is RTM an awesome To-Do list, but it’s flexibility allows you to take care of most of your GTD needs from one place. This makes staying organized even easier.

The two primary features that we’ve discussed so far are Tags and Smart Lists. Here are a couple of definitions from the RTM FAQ:

What Are Tags?

Tags are like keywords or labels that you can add to a task to make it easier to find and organize later. For example, you can tag a task with ‘phone’, and then later when you’re looking for tasks that require phone calls, you can just click on that tag and see all the tasks that have been tagged that way.

What Are Smart Lists?

Smart Lists are special lists that are created based on criteria that you define, and are automatically updated as your tasks change.

RTM and…Twitter?

Now we have RTM set up quite nicely. You have tagged your Tasks, your Smart Lists have automatically organized your Projects and Contexts. You can easily view your Context lists to see what you should be doing Right Now.

One of the basic ideas regarding GTD is that your system has to be portable. You have to be able to track what you’ve completed and also store those important tasks and ideas that pop into your head at any given moment.

You could print out your To-Do list. RTM provides a nifty feature for you to do so, but that is so booooooring! Who uses paper anymore. Even the Gen X guys would probably frown on that solution. So we have two options:

The second option works great for me because I don’t have the web on my phone (long story). There are other features of accessing Twitter this way that we’ll discuss later. In order to get this set up, just go here and follow the directions.

Now, you can communicate with RTM with Direct Messages on Twitter. This means that you will definitely Remember The Milk the next time you happen to be in the grocery store.

Here are a few more examples of talking to RTM via Twitter:

  • Add a Task – “d rtm Subscribe to SheenOnline.Biz”
  • Get Tasks due today – “d rtm !today” (shortcut: !tod)
  • Get Tasks related to your “Blog” project – “d rtm !gettag .blog” (shortcut: !gt)

What Does This Have To Do With Your Cell Phone?

Well, I’m glad you asked! You can add your mobile phone as a “device” on Twitter. This allows you to send and receive Twitter messages via SMS (text messaging). This means you can now text a Direct Message to RTM to access your Tasks.

You will probably want to add Twitter to your contacts. The number is “40404”.

For more details on how to talk to RTM via Twitter, go back here.

But Wait! There’s More!

Well, not really. At least, not right now. There are a few other slick tricks you can do with this setup that I will discuss later. I think we have covered enough for today and the longer I talk, the more incoherent I may become.

A few things to consider with this setup:

  • If Twitter is down, it obviously all goes to hell in gasoline draws
  • Adding a task via Twitter doesn’t allow you to properly tag it, so make sure you check your “Inbox” list or your “!” Smart List whenever you get back to a browser
  • Completing tasks via Twitter means you have to provide the entire name of the task, so don’t make your task names longer than they need to be.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Corrections? Let’s discuss in the comments. That’s what they’re for, after all.

Super-Charge Remember The Milk With Smart Lists and Tags

photo by Franie Frou Frou
photo by Franie Frou Frou

As far as Getting Things Done goes, Remember The Milk is the center of my solar system. At first glance, it’s just a simple TODO list, but it has some serious power under the hood. Using these features, I’m going to show you how to handle most of your GTD needs in one place.

This post is the first in a series on Super-Charging Remember The Milk including:

After reading Advanced GTD With Remember The Milk, I got inspired to upgrade my setup and handle my tasks more efficiently. I decided to do things a little different, though. Everything is handled by Smart Lists to make my life easier in the long run.

Create a List For All Your Tasks

To start, you want to create a list to hold all your tasks. I call mine “Daily.” I chose not to use “Inbox” so that I don’t get my current tasks confused with new tasks I have sent in via Twitter or email. You will never view your tasks directly using this list. It will be one big ugly list of every task that hasn’t been completed yet.

Tags Are Your Friend

Here is where my system is different. At this point, you only have 3 Lists: “Inbox”, “Daily”, and “Sent”. What you do at this point is create some Smart Lists that sort your tasks based on how you have tagged them. Here is how I tag each item:

Tag Format Examples
Projects start with a ‘. .PlanVacation, .Budget, .FriendFeedCommentsWidget
Contexts start with an ‘@ @online, @home, @phone, @work, @errands
Status tags start with a ‘ -next, -someday, -waiting

Project Lists

Here is where you start to see the power of this system. If I want to add a project, I simply do a search for “tag:.NewProject” and Save the search as “NewProject”, or whatever I choose. Now, I can add tasks to this Smart List and they automatically get tagged for this project. All I have to do at this point is make sure to add Status and Context tags where appropriate.

Saving a Smart List

New Task Tagged Automatically

Context Lists

Our Context lists will be the main focus of the system on a daily basis. These are the lists you keep an eye on to see what you should be Doing right now. The items in these lists will only be Next items. As an example, do a search for “tag:@online AND tag:-next”. Now you have a list of all the things you can do while online that don’t have any dependencies. Go ahead and save this list as “@Online” or “@Web”.

Someday and Waiting Lists

Last, but not least, we want to go ahead and create lists for our Someday and Waiting tasks. I have a separate Smart List for each. You can create your own by saving the two searches “tag:-someday” and “tag:-waiting” as “Someday” and “Waiting”.

Example Smart Lists

Here are the Smart Lists I currently use. Notice that they all include “tag:-next” to show me only my Next actions:

Smart List Name Search Query
@Errands tag:-next AND tag:@errands
@Online tag:-next AND tag:@online
@Phone tag:-next AND tag:@phone

Putting It All Together

The work flow for GTD is Collect, Process, Organize, Review, Do.

  • Collect by doing a brain dump. Add anything you think may be of importance as a task in Remember The Milk. If you already know the Context, Project, and/or Status for this item, tag it now. The shortcut key for adding a task is “T”. Once you add a task, it will automatically be selected so that you can hit “S” to edit the tags.
  • Process any tasks you have not already tagged. If the task has no dependencies, tag it with “-next.” If it’s part of a larger project (even a project you may not have created yet) tag it as such and create a Smart List for it. Break the task down into smaller tasks, tagging each with Context and Status tags where applicable.
  • Organizing your tasks should be done by this point. Keep in mind that you can always modify multiple tasks at the same time by turning on multi-edit mode with shortcut key “M”. This is good if you have a bunch of tasks that need the same tag added.
  • Review each project to make sure you haven’t left any tasks out or forgotten to tag any of them with “-next.”
  • Do whatever you have to do to get rid of all those tasks in your Context lists. Only look at your project lists if you have run out of Next actions for that project.

Final Notes

  • Every Task may not fall into a specific project
  • Every Project does not have to be a list of Tasks towards any specific goal. I have projects of things I need to Review, Read, Write, Research, etc.
  • Don’t get ridiculous with Contexts. Keep it simple and don’t agonize over tasks that may or may not have to go in a specific context, or could possibly go in more than one context (ie. writing a blog post could be @laptop or @online or both, or neither). Just pick one and run with it. Nothing bad will happen.

Bonus Tip

What happens if you forget to tag things properly? Use this search as a sanity check:

NOT tagContains:@ or NOT tagContains:. OR isTagged:false

This will catch anything that’s not part of a Project, Context, or just isn’t tagged at all

Do you have any tips on Getting Things Done or Remember The Milk? What do you think of this system? Let me know in the comments.

How To Run a Contest On Your Blog

Refracted Moments

One of the best things you can do to drive traffic to your blog is to run a contest. I recently came across a blog doing just that with some awesome prizes. Visit the site and enter the contest here.

How Does A Contest Get Me Traffic?

Well, don’t you like to win stuff? Of course you do. Everyone does. If people find out that you’re giving away random crap on your blog, they will be all over it. It’s even more attractive when they don’t have to deviate from their normal routine.

Viral Marketing

There is also a viral aspect to running a contest. You basically set up a points system where the contestants earn points for doing things to help your blog. A few examples of what may earn them points:

  • Subscribing to your blog
  • Adding to Technorati Favorites
  • Linking back to your blog
  • Add to MyBlogLog / BlogCatalog

You engineer the contest so that the participants are promoting for you in order to win. They subscribe, favorite and link your blog. In doing so, they have just alerted everyone they know that your blog has something going on. Viral stuff is awesome.

Where Do The Prizes Come From?

More than likely, this is going to require you to get together with all those awesome people you’ve met in the course of providing valuable content and input in your niche. All those people that you have had interesting and thought-provoking discussions with using various social media tools. Most people refer to this cooperation as a Joint Venture.

For example, the blog contest in question here offers premium WordPress Themes, unique visitor traffic, and an E-Book (just to name a few). Obviously, the prizes were not all created by the blogger running the contest. In providing the prizes for the contest, the others involved are getting some advertising and traffic as well.

Go Sign Up Now!

In conclusion (that sounds so corny), run off to TechSuave and get in on this contest. pay attention to what prizes are offered and what you have to do to win them. Try to think of what you could offer if you ran your own contest. Also, think about the best things to incorporate into the contest rules in order for you to get the greatest benefit.

Are you an Aspiring Blogger? – Win Prizes worth $1000 and more

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Make Sure Your Tweeps Know What The Bizness Is

I noticed I get a lot of Twitter updates regarding bloggers publishing new blog posts, so I figured there must be a WP pluging to do so. A quick search turned up Twitter Updater:

The Twitter Updater automatically sends a Twitter status update to your Twitter account when you create, publish, or edit your WordPress post. You can specify the text for the updates, and also have the option to turn the auto update on/off for the different post actions in the admin panel.

Follow the directions in the post and enter your Twitter username and password under ‘Manage->Twitter Updater’ in your admin panel. You will probably want to turn off updates for “New Post Created” and “New Post Edited” because those could result in some noise if you change your mind.

Read the full post here

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How Twitter Keeps Me From Getting Things Done

You probably think this article is about how much time I waste on Twitter. You probably think I’m going to lament about the long hours I spend Tweeting my Tweeps from Twhirl about how we gonna have a Tweetup or whatever. You got me all wrong.

You see, I recently learned all about Getting Things Done. I am horrible at organization, so finding such a simple system for getting it together was enlightening. I started emptying my GMail Inbox mutiple times a day (the Y key is your friend). I started actually putting events on my Google Calendar. I started dumping everything I needed to do into my new TODO list app, Remember The Milk.

I was able to interact with GCal and RTM right from my cell using SMS (I don’t have the web on my phone). I was also able to use a nifty application loader called Launchy to quickly add things to GCal or RTM without missing a beat (the details of this setup are here). All was right with the world. I was Getting Things Done.

What the hell does all this have to do with Twitter? Well, in order to interact with RTM and GCal so easily, I was piggybacking off of the Twitter service (this is actually how I was introduced to Twitter). There are two bots (gcal and rtm) on twitter that allow you to control each service. I had scripts that would use curl to pass messages to these bots directly from my app launcher. When Twitter went away, I had no way of knowing my scripts were failing.

Instead of adding items to my calendar or todo list, I was just throwing them away into oblivion. This is definitely the opposite of Getting Things Done. Now, I am in the process of coding my own apps to make sure this never happens again. RTM has an open API. Just my sad story about Twitter. You probably don’t care, but the recovery is always in the telling.

Has some nifty web 2.0 app wronged you somehow? Tell us about it.

5 Ways to Make Money from Home

So, you’ve decided you would like to make money working from home. Maybe you can’t afford the commute anymore because of high gas prices. You’re sick of your boss, your job, your co-workers. Maybe you just want to spend more time with your family or you need to make a little extra on the side. You might need the time to look for important advice if you’re going to tile a wet room in order to save some money by doing it yourself. Whatever the case may be, I’m here to make sure you have a basic understanding of what you’re getting into.

There are a huge number of ways to make money from home, but there are also a lot of people trying to make money off you. This simple list will help you decide what route to take and also give you some tips on how to avoid wasting your time and money.

1. Network Marketing

This is probably the most infamous method of making money from home, but it’s also one of the most lucrative. Also known as Multi-Level Marketing or MLM, it has created more millionaires than most other industries. Basically, you’re starting your own business, so there will usually be a start-up cost. There may also be a monthly overhead cost or minimum sales requirement, depending on who you get involved with.

What Do You Do?

There are usually at least 2 ways to make money. You will be marketing some type of product or service, and you will be recruiting others into your business who also want to make money. This usually involves calling leads, placing ads, and talking to people you already know.

You will make a commission on any sales or enrollments you make. You also make money when those on your team make money. This is called leveraged income. You may also have the chance to make residual income, which means you will get paid repeatedly for work you only did once.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing and Network Marketing are pretty hard to tell apart. Either way, you are marketing a product/service and making a commission. There are two main differences:

  1. You may not have to pay to become an affiliate
  2. You won’t be able to build leveraged income

What Do You Do?

You receive a unique URL or link where people can go to find and buy the product or service. When they make a purchase through your link, you get paid. Usually, you market this affiliate link by placing ads on your website or any other standard Internet Marketing practices.

3. Pay-Per-Click Ads

Google is probably the most well-known PPC program. You get paid anytime someone clicks the ads which you have placed on your website or blog. The ads are usually relevant to the content on your website.

What Do You Do?

You paste some code on your website and hope someone clicks the ads that show up. It’s really that simple. This works best in combination with a Blog or some type of website where you can attract lots of traffic by providing quality content.

4. Internet Freelancing

This just means doing odd jobs that people have posted on the Internet. You can find these types of jobs on sites like Craigslist and

What Do You Do?

Well, you basically do whatever the client asks you to and negotiate what the payment will be. This could be anything from basic administrative tasks to programming PHP. If you have a decent resume, you may find success doing this on a site like eLance. You will usually have to compete for jobs against other candidates.

5. Completing Offers

This involves anything from completing surveys to applying for credit cards. You get paid on completion of each offer. Project Payday is one of the main companies you can enroll with for this type of work.

What Do You Do?

You sign up for 30-day trials, credit cards, loans, and anything else you can imagine. You may have to pay for some of these things and then remember to get your refund once the trial is over. Someone who is trying to get a free Xbox 360 or 54″ HD-TV will pay you for completing these offers. I tried it and didn’t like it. It works great for others. If you don’t mind giving out your SSN and other personal info repeatedly, it may work for you too.

The Bottom Line

This is an extremely basic overview of your options. You will have the most success by doing more than just one of these. It all depends on how much work you are willing to put in and how serious you are about educating yourself on the details and techniques you will need to succeed.

I did research for months before I ever signed up for anything and that has really paid off. I have been able to really focus on what my strengths are and how to use them to earn an income. Once I chose to start helping people and stopped thinking of everything as sales and making the next dollar, my business exploded.

What have you run into in your search for financial independence? What questions or fears do you have about working from home or starting a home business? Feel free to comment below.