ActivityOwner.Com turns 1.0

Although the site’s first post was back in August 2006 (Chapter 1), the first visitors started trickling this a year ago this week to read Committed Projects and Next Actions and Top 20 uses of GyroQ”. Since then the site has accumulated just under 25,000 visits and 100,000 page views. That’s not a lot by internet A-List blogging standards, but not bad for our little “long-tail” community of MindManager / ResultsManager / GyroQ / GTD enthusiasts.


I’ve really enjoyed the interaction with readers and the ability to quickly share ideas, custom dashboards, and code snippets via the blog and wiki; often in less than an hour from when they were conceptualized. It has been surprising how “time-neutral” this hobby has generally been, in that it invariably comes at the expense of less structured web surfing. It has also been surprising how doing a little extra work to make a tool “customizable” for others actually translates back into something much more useful personally. For more background, see the “about” page.

The site’s focus is driven by reader comments and questions here and on the Yahoo GTD_MindManager group by power users like Mal E. and encouragement by folks like Kyle M. The focus has shifted over time as we’ve tried to understand and lower the barriers in the GTD workflow. Initially this meant understanding how to build custom ResultsManager dashboards, for things like a Meeting Next Actions, 1:1 employee meeting, and how to get them refreshed automatically overnight. Along the way we discussed some philosophy behind GTD such as “are your projects projects” and are you contexts contexts?

As GyroQ came on the scene, the focus shifted more towards lowering the barriers to “capture” by leveraging and customizing GyroQ for various purposes like phoning in tasks via Jott and closing the loop by having them sent back out by email in processed form. Along the way we had fun solving the Sunday crossword puzzles of interfacing in and out of other formats like wikis, RSS, mail-bucket, basecamp, nactionr, and html. In the meantime, the wiki site itself turned up on the net as a map!

As we tried to develop custom tags for to capture and mark up with the infinite possible permutations of context, owner, category, area, home-map, priority, etc, we realized it wasn’t feasible in the standard GyroQ paradigm. The initial concept of what became MindReader was introduced in September 2006, but a workable implementation remained on the “someday/maybe” list until January, when the strategy of using macros and a configuration map to drive the program came into being.

After several rapid improvements catalyzed by readers including Curtis B., James H. and others, the tools quickly stabilized to something that we just used, rather than tweaked, and that significantly reduced the need for multiple GyroQ “capture” tags.

After a quiet summer, there was a recent flurry of improvements suggested by Jose Miguel and refined through off-line discussion that you should check out. These include the ability to automatically recognize previously unspecified resources as well as a Spanish version of MindReader.mmap! One quick way to bring your system up to date is to use the AO-Pack zip file.

In addition to MindReader, the other tool that I’ve found very useful personally is “Mark and Log Tasks Done“. Although the completion-logging aspect is satisfying, its real utility is in managing repeating tasks. This functionality was improved this week based on a suggestion from Bill S. to handle fixed date deadlines. If you are already a user, check out the latest version in the macro library.

Ironically, one of my favorite tags is actually “clo“, which closes all the unmodified maps you have open and lets you focus on the ones you are actually editing.

So what’s the next action on GTD barrier removal?
My feeling is that we all need tools and tricks to overcome the “cringe-factor” of dealing with a red-hot dashboard. I’m finding the “Are your next actions eligible for retirement?” macro provides a useful reality check and its metrics provide some incentives to address stale tasks. I’d like to build more metrics into this type of analysis to help catalyze more frequent and effective weekly reviews.

In general the wiki has become very useful way to improve the tools and documentation in small steps rather than through multiple blog posts. It has also enabled several users to contribute and improve things (Thanks!). If you are a MindReader user and can contribute something about how you use it, I would bet others would benefit. Just create an account and jump in.

If you like to follow the site, but have become too focused and productive with its tools to waste time browsing the internet or RSS feeds, feel free to utilize the subscribe function to be notified of new developments.

Thanks for a fun year,



  1. BillS said,

    September 12, 2007 @ 10:29 am


    Happy Bithday! I want to thank you for your efforts to help us all improve our GTD process. Using ResultsManager & GyroQ & creating an efficient process can be daunting. In fact, when I first started using GyroQ I saw its potential for quick capture but found the time to open my RM project map & collect the idea was equal to capturing in GyroQ & later managing the capture map. Your original tags & later MindReader scripts as well as this community’s improvements have improved my productivity by at least 50%! Personally, I am looking forward to tackling my Next Action Verbs in the next few weeks .. my initial run of the script gave me a well deserved spanking. A toast to all at Gyronix, MindManager, the ActivityOwner community, and the Yahoo GTD Groups.
    –Bill S

  2. Jim said,

    September 12, 2007 @ 7:19 pm

    Happy Birthday!

    While I’m not as proficient as I’d like to be, the proficiency I have developed over the last year has come in no small part to your efforts here on ActivityOwner. Using MindReader in combination with GyroQ has become such second nature to me that I often forget all the work that went into developing it.

    Thanks again for all that you do (and the occasional tech support here and there) and I sincerely look forward to further developments!

  3. Travis Carnahan said,

    September 12, 2007 @ 11:18 pm

    Happy B-day from someone who has “fallen often GyroQ/Resultsmanager wagon” and is trying to get back on! Your site has been/ is being is a great help!

  4. Jose Miguel Bolivar said,

    September 13, 2007 @ 4:16 am

    Happy Birthday!

    Thank you for your inspirational dedication to the community and, at least in my particular case, for your endless patience :-)

    José Miguel

  5. Nik Tipler said,

    September 13, 2007 @ 9:03 pm

    Dear ActivityOwner, ActivityWife, ActivityDaughter and the whole community “Happy Birthday”.

    And as has been said in many of the comments throughout this amazing site you are all an inspiration, especially to me and the rest of the team at Gyronix. Thank you all.


  6. ActivityOwner said,

    September 22, 2007 @ 11:07 am

    Thanks Guys — While I was looking at the anniversary more as an opportunity for a “Year in Review” summary than a birthday party, I really appreciate the good wishes. You all have been big contributors and stimulated a lot of great ideas. While the goal of this blog is ironically to empower people to stop procrastinating and go get things done, it is always nice to see you all stop back now and then!

    Nik/Nick — Thanks for creating the tools that are helping us all.

    P.S. Apparently ActivityWife’s preferred nickname is “Ms. Activity” :-).

  7. Travis Carnahan said,

    September 26, 2007 @ 7:43 pm

    Could you look at aSynod custom tog to capture problem issues? One of my biggest problems as a manager is that when a problem comes up I automatically solve it, but I don’t do a good job tracking b/c once the problem is solved…. I forget about it! A tag that world tie to a “problem” map with name, date, and description fields would let me capture information that I need for addressing bigger problems, writing reviews, etc.

  8. ActivityOwner said,

    September 26, 2007 @ 10:57 pm

    Hi Travis — Have you tried the “elog” tag?

    I think its close to what you are looking for, although I’m not sure what aSynod is…

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