ETP for the iPad: Beta Testing Signup and Usage Poll

ETP for the iPad: Beta Testing Signup and Usage Poll

iPad App In Progress Internet collaborator Al Briggs and I have been making progress on the Emergent Task Planner iPad App! Al’s doing the heavy lifting on the IOS programming side, and I’m providing the sparkly graphics as the curmudgeonly designer. As you can see, it’s in pretty preliminary shape, just testing the graphics presentation and internal guts, but we’re starting to pick up momentum.

Right now, we’re trying to figure out the best combination of features to provide on the App, and we’ve discovered that we have different ways of using the form. This is where we need your input!

After the jump, you’ll find a description of how I use the ETP, with Al’s Beta Testing Signup link at the end.

How I use the ETP

I’ve come to understand that people use the ETP in different ways, and it’s important to us that we account for as many ways as possible by providing a good set of features. Since this is an electronic version of the ETP, there will be things we can do on the iPad that we can’t on paper, but paper is the starting point. Here’s the way I currently use the ETP:

Step 1: Fill in the Date

Step 1: Fill in the Date First things first! When I’m ready to start my work day, I grab a blank sheet and fill in the date. I probably grab some coffee too.

Step 2: Fill in Working Hours

Step 2: Fill in the working hours Next, I decide when my day will start, and fill in the hours along the left side of the Day Grid (the left column of the form).

Step 3: Review Long Term Goals and Projects List

Step 3: Review Longer Term Goals Next, I look at my medium and long-term goals list. I’m currently using Trello to manage this. I pick a few things from this list that I’d like to make progress on.

Step 4: Review Short Term To-Do Items

Step 4: Check Short Term To Dos Then I look at the to-do list on my desk, which sits in one of my index card stands so I can see it rise above the desktop clutter. This list tends to be chores, groceries, and other sundry items that I want to keep top-of-mind. Sometimes I will list things to ponder here, since it’s prime real estate.

Step 5: Pick Three Important Tasks (Possibly More)

Step 5: Fill out Task for the Day I’m ready to pick three important things to get done. For me, these are ongoing creative projects that produce a tangible result or income. I may also include a significant chore in the top three as well. If I can get three things done, that’s great. Fantastic. I add extra tasks as stretch goals, if my time doesn’t get gobbled up by something else.

I also consider yesterday’s ETP sheet, and decide if there are tasks from it that need to be in the Top 3. If they’re not that important, then they’ll be dropped. If they are still important, though, they live for another day.

Step 6: Schedule Meetings and Log Activity

Step 6: Schedule and Log Once I get working, I use the Day Grid to mark meeting times and work chunks. I usually also mark the end of day too, to give me an idea of how much time I have remaining. I use circled numbers with corresponding circles on the task list to show which tasks are actively worked on.

Step 7: Keep Notes

Step 7: Keep Notes As the day goes on, other things might pop up and new tasks will come into being. Since the ETP is intended to be your desk-side companion, it provides ample space to write down to-dos and phone numbers and what-have-you.

Step 8: Review

At the end of the day, I have a record what got done, what didn’t get done, and where my time went. Then I use it to mark my Big Picture task lists (trello) and cross-out anything that got done on the index card to-do. I’ll use the ETP sheet tomorrow in Step 5, transferring any undone tasks to the day.

POLL: How Do You Use It?

The part of the ETP form where Al and I diverge is in the Day Grid. I’ve stopped using the rectangles for any notational use, but he uses them for writing in numbers. Also, we apparently diverge in what we write down in the Day Grid. So, we welcome any stories from users of the Emergent Task Planner with regards to how YOU use the Day Grid.

Signup for Beta Testing

Al Briggs has set up a Google Form for you to sign-up for beta testing of features and what not:

Al Briggs and Dave Seah are working together on bringing some PCEO goodness to the iPad starting with the Emergent Task Planner. Please provide your email address and details of your ipad and ios version here to apply for an invitation to become a beta tester on the project. I’ve invited you to fill out the Beta Sign up form. To fill it out, visit: Dave Seah’s iPad Adventure

So that’s it! We’re kind of winging this as we go :) Realistically speaking, we’re really in an alpha stage: defining conventions, trying things, and implementing the feature set. But our goal is to converge rapidly on a minimal, useful app as quickly as possible, and then take it from there.


  1. Jen F 12 years ago

    I use the day grid to mark down what I did during the day and when I was productive. At the beginning of the day I outline any time periods that are already spoken for – meetings, lunch, etc. As the day progresses, I fill in the squares for times that I was productive in a work-related meeting. At the end of the day it’s easy to see at a glance how I did. Or even partway through the day, if all my squares are blank, I need to step it up for the remainder of the day.

  2. Jen F 12 years ago

    I should say “times that I was productive OR in a work-related meeting”. Even though meetings arent always productive, I count them as work time if I have to be there. :)

  3. Lynn O'Connor 12 years ago

    I hope you really wanted these details about how we use the ETPs etc because here it is: I use the ETP in different sizes for years now, depending on what “Next Action” book I’m using in a given day. What this means –I’ve been using the spiral bound Planner Pad (“Personal” size: 6 3/4 X 8 1/2) for almost a year now, and I made the half-page EPT when you came out with them –so I most often use the half-page (approximately) ETP, inserted into the planner pad, or the very small ETP purchased from Amazon which sticks but which is a little too small. For the half page version, I have to attach each day, with a paper clip. I wish there was the half page version, with a sticky top to put into the planner pad book, the way the very small one works –the planner pad finally gave me a way to see the whole week with hard edged appointments, classes I teach, etc, at once, very handy,given my difficulty in “weekly planning.” But I need the ETP for daily use. I use the planner pad to record phone messages #s, because it is all held together permanently (spiral version is what I use), whereas phone numbers captured on the ETPs not infrequently get lost. I will take a picture of this arrangement and send it to you.

    Will the new ETP made for the iPad also work on my macbook air which I use all the time, day and night? The Airbook is so light that I mainly don’t use the ipad –why bother. So I could make use of the ETP digital, on my Airbook. And I continue to hope that you are planning to come out with a half page size ETP with sticky top, I would use it instead of the half page ETPs home-made, held in with paper clips.

    Increasingly, I don’t use my larger (letter size) “Next Action” Circa book (which has ETPs with Circa holes,) unless I’m swamped unusually, and need extra space. I tried the larger size Planner Pad (inserting the full size ETPs) but it was not as convenient. I use the Planner Pad plastic pockets (made for personal AND made for larger size) in my circa books (8 X 11 and the jr size as well) and in my smaller “personal” size Planner Pad book. I put those plastic envelopes on everything –they are very useful. (for example, a pile of ETPs half-page size are kept in one of those envelopes.)

    In terms of how I use the ETP itself –I use it (whatever size I’m using) very much as you describe, how you use it. I like being able to put in the relevant hours on left side, as my work hours change, day to day. I may begin work at 8AM on one day, or at 10AM on another, and being able to put in the hours according to the particular day, rather than a standard, always the same day after day, is most helpful.

    I think this covers it.

    I’m so sorry I missed you when you were out here. Next time, lets try again. It was unusual for us to be out of town like that, but then my mother turns 100 in February, and we are called down to LA unexpectedly whenever something happens and she needs us. But really, lets try again.

  4. Al 12 years ago

    Great insight about entering meetings etc in the left hand day grid, I do that too, so perhaps we can show your calendar entries as an underlay on the left hand side.

  5. Jen F 12 years ago

    Love the idea of integrating the calendar entries. I’d just recommend the ability to edit/remove/add as needed. Sometimes I have something on my calendar as a reminder that isn’t actually dedicated time for a meeting or event, and I’d not want that in my day grid.

  6. Meagan 12 years ago

    It would be great (and I’m sure hard for the developer) to have the app auto-sync with the users ical to keep every app updated without the need to input an event a million times.

    Also, since it’s not on paper, the hours can be set up as a scroll like in the ical (takes up minimum screen/can extend your day/ user doesn’t have to input hours)

    It would be amazing if the app utilized the day schedule scroll to keep the current time in default view and pushed unfinished tasks down from previous hours (as I often get backed up on my etp)

    the user can input events as ether fixed-time (stays in place at specified blocks on day scroll) or as work/task/flexible? (will auto-push down if uncomplete/movable– could even rate tasks on urgency! )

    One thing about the current paper ETP I think is imperfect is the time block squares… not sure how your suppose to utitlize those som times i use as a reference for timing; sometimes i use as checkboxes? (I noticed on your post example pic you didnt even use em )Not sure what the best fix is but should be addressed.

    I signed up for the beta test! Good luck!

  7. Baiyi 12 years ago

    Hi David,

    I started using ETP not long ago and also went through your other PCEO templates. ETP is great to track my daily activities and where I spent my time on. But I found that ETP alone doesn’t really meet all my needs. I’d like to not only know where I spent my time on but if I spent my time on valuable tasks and if I am living a balanced life. So I put together a revised ETP with parts from your other templates ( PCEO points and the balanced grid)

    As you can see the “notes” section are almost gone, but that’s fine with me. I keep my notes in Evernote anyway. I also save my daily revised ETP to Evernote after finishing my daily review.

    That’s how I use ETP and other PCEO templates.

  8. Al 12 years ago

    Hi Baiyi the Dropbox link doesn’t work

  9. Lynn O'Connor 12 years ago

    I was able to download it. Interesting. I don’t think I will use the “balance” feature –Personally, I never worry about being balanced, if I am doing well in work-mode, I’m very pleased, if I’m taking time flaking off, I’m not so pleased about it. In other words, balance is definitely not something I want. that said, your revisions are interesting and I will fool around with your revised ETP for a few days.

  10. Orlando 12 years ago

    One of the things I loved most of your creations (thanks! first of all), is the fact that they can be customized to each one’s needs. So in many years I’ve used a customized ETP version, reduced to about 2/3 the size to use less space on the desktop and to be inserted in an old weekly planner cover, and merged with other elements to keep a weekly “plan” on the side while flipping the sheets day by day.

    I used it also together with a Pomodoro technique (25+5 minutes) instead of the 15-minutes chunks, that works fine to me.

    PROs: – tracking time effectively – keeping focus – a GREAT work booster! – keeping records and notes (I know when I did something, I can retrieve jotted down notes, and so on) – design adapted over time, to keep things that are useful and remove (or reduce) the others

    CONs: – a lot of paper waste ;-p – some time “lost” to print and trim the paper sheets – to retrieve old sheets I have to browse them one by one

    WISHes: – to link it with my calendar – to link it with my to do list – to link it with my project management app – to keep an organized archive of the work done (when I did this? How much time did I really spent on that?)

    About an iPad version: – I have thought at it many times, I use iPad everyday to plan and track my projects, using tools like OmniFocus and the internal Calendar and most of all FileMaker GO. – So (before spotting your post) I am modifying my personal FileMaker project tracker database to include an ETP module, similar to what I can see by your screenshots, but: – The tasks should be taken from the open tasks in my project management database (no need to rewrite them everytime) – The progress should be tracked, the Projects records could take advantage of them, to analyze the effort spent on each task – I plan to use a Pomodoro-like timer (15 or 25+5 minutes) to both track the time spent AND to maintain focus. The timer could be external or internal to FileMaker (I would prefer internal, so it can be used from the iPad, but I can also use an external application or AppleScript to achieve this) – I would also use photo capabilities of the iPad to maintain pictures of draft I would continue to jot down by hand, and that in the paper version of the ETP are part of each sheet. I greatly count on my visual memory for many things!

    The ETP Module could obviously be detached from the Project, but I think (I don’t know how your iPad app work) that saving all days records in a way that can be used to summarize results should be mandatory. I like to track my time and progresses, and I greatly like when all data is collected in a pleasant way to show me where all my time goes.

    Back to my first words, I liked to customize your ETP (and the other tools, too). What I don’t like of iPad apps is the fact that – unless they are really perfect and they can share their info easily – each of them is rarely complete, I rarely feel comfortable to leave my data in an app that can be replaced by a better one after a while, or simply dismissed, and so on.

    So, why I will do it in FileMaker?

    PROs: – FileMaker GO is free, so you could distribute the file as is, and many users can use it with no other money required (you could also insert a “donate” button, or something similar, I think it would be much appreciated) – FileMaker files are editable (unless locked) so they would be highly customizable (you need to own and know FileMaker Pro, if you don’t already own it, an investment that can be a great deal, because you can use it for anything else database-related… moreover, it has a free 30-days trial, if you just need to modify it a bit). The ETP could be scaled to much more. Your other tools could be integrated in it, even just as other “views” of the same data. – FileMaker files are multiplatform (MacOS, Win, iOS), can be shared between desktop machines and between a desktop and an iPad. If you put them on a server, they can be accessed from anywhere, using an iPad, a FileMaker client or even a simple browser. – FileMaker files can be carried with you on the iPad, so no Internet connection is necessary. And you can send them to your desktop machine when you want to update your local copy. – FileMaker is easy to learn, far easier than is single-platform counterpart MS Access – I’m a FileMaker developer, so nothing to learn ;-)

    CONs: – No (out-of-the-box) sync capabilities, so far: you cannot (easily) synchronize your iPad file with your desktop. Real time access is not the same thing.

    Thanks again! (And sorry for my poor English…)

  11. Bill Lee 12 years ago

    Love the Paper ETP and turning it into an app is fantastic. I look forward too the Android version App as a large amount of our business clients use the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet with its pen functionality. Alas the IPad does not cut it as a business tool in this area of functionality or interface with windows based systems most common in business.

    I have uploaded the ETP pdf into to the Samsung S Note application and it works just like a paper version. I save the ETP with today’s date and I then back them up to each project folder on our server. Works a treat and saves the tree’s.