Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bookmark Your Tag Set

Tagaabo is especially useful when combined with your browser's bookmarks.
I have a set of bookmarks for Tagaabo pages that I frequently visit and check.
For example, when I'd like to see what I need to do today,
I just click my browser's bookmark for the following Tagaabo page:


If you look up at the url for a page with any tag combination in Tagaabo, you can see that tag names like "todo" are included in the URL.
And that means that if you bookmark that url, the bookmark will pull up the page with the combination of tags and other conditions (like view type--Lifelog or Calendar), that you want to view.

Here are some other useful bookmarks I have:

Calendar of events

Work related todo list. Sorry for no screenshot, but you got the idea.

Unsolved questions

Tasks I have completed

Also, this entry shows sets of bookmarks that are useful in implementing GTD on Tagaabo.

If you have been using Tagaabo for a while, you may already have some useful bookmarks with your own original tag combinations.
If you have such bookmarks, please share them with us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tagaabo covered by Czech GTD website

Just found this nice article on Tagaabo in Czech.


Translation by Google Translate

It seems that the site is run by the publisher of David Allen's "Getting Things Done" in Czech.
What pleased us most was that Tagaabo was introduced as an embodiment of "less is more" philosophy.
You know what? That is exactly what we are trying to be!
Thank you for the appreciation, Tomáš!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Danger tag!

Sometimes you find danger where you least expect it.
I recently stumbled across an unexpected situation while I was programming.

So when I program, I prefer to have a dark blue background for my editor because the traditional white background is too bright for me.

I was staring at a particular line of code on the dark blue background, lost in thought.
Next to my nice dark blue editor window however, there was a browser window that opened a page with a bright white background.

Later, when I looked away from my monitor, I noticed that part of my vision was lost!
It appears that my iris' were wide open because they were adjusted to the dark background of the editor, and the white light in the periferal screen was too strong and actually damaged my retinas.
Fortunately, my vision recovered after about an hour, but I was extremely worried.

When I have this kind of negative experience, I record it in Tagaabo with a "danger" tag.
That way I can build up my "danger" database, so that I can avoid these type of situations in the future.

By the way, there is a Japanese web site called "the failure knowledge database".
It is a database of failures or accidents which has been compiled in order to help people avoid making the same mistakes.
This page is in Japansese. But even if you don't speak Japanse, the illustrations can make sense.

Check it out:


Friday, November 7, 2008

wiki tag

I use Tagaabo to keep track of my personal projects.
I create a tag for a project, and keep logging whatever comes up about that project under the same tag.
For me, Tagaabo is a major project so I log everything related to it with a "tagaabo" tag.
Later on when I want to review any activity on the Tagaabo project, I simply type in "tagaabo" and I can see exactly what's been going on.

For any small project, this works perfectly. However, with a large project like Tagaabo, I found myself lost in a sea of items. There were simply too many entries!

Going over all of your log entries can be useful in some cases, but often, you want to cut to the chase and see only what is current.
So I realized that something like a Wiki could be really helpful.

Here is what I do now.
When I feel a project needs it, I create an entry with a "wiki" tag.
For example, for the Tagaabo project, I have a few items that are tagged with both "tagaabo" and "wiki".

Because you can easily edit Tagaabo entries just by clicking on the text, I keep updating those items with the latest status of the project--just like you would with a wiki. Whenever I want to review or update them, I simply type in "tagaabo wiki" and I can view just those Wiki-like items.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

We are on twitter

Just wanted to let you know that we started to tweet what we are up to on twitter.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Now you can email to your Tagaabo account!

We just added a new feature.

1. You can now add items to Tagaabo via email.
2. You can now query Tagaabo via email.

We think this feature is useful especially when you'd like to access Tagaabo from cell phone.
Let's take a look at them one by one.

To create an email address which you can use for creating items, go to Account page from the link at upper right corner, click "Create Email Interface" button with "Item creation" option selected.
To create items, simply send emails to this email address.
The message text of the email becomes the message text of the item, and the words in the title of the email will be the tags of the item.

To create an email address which you can use to query your Tagaabo account, click "Create Email Interface" button with "Query" option selected.
To query, send an email to this address, and Tagaabo will reply to it.
For example, if you'd like to get the list of your items tagged with "errand", send an email titled "errand", and Tagaabo will send you back the list of the items.

So, why don't you create those two email addresses and have them in the address book of your cell phone?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New design

We’ve updated the user interface of the Timeline View. Instead of repeatedly showing date for each items, we now show single date header for all the entries in one day. We hope you like it. Enjoy!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just moved to Amazon EC2

We have just moved our server to Amazon EC2. We were aware of unstable performance of our old server lately (especially in file upload), but that problem is not happening any more after the migration. We are planning more improvements. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beware of addictive stuffs

Are you an Email/Internet Junkie? I am. Sometimes I find myself checking email so often that it has a negative effect on my productivity. My other guilty pleasure is surfing wikipedia. There is a ton of addiction-forming stuff on the computer, and I definitely think there’s a pattern.

I read about an experiment that they did with monkeys around addiction a while back. At first the monkey got a bean every time he pushed the button on a machine. He liked that very much and kept pushing away. And when the machine stopped giving beans, he soon stopped pushing the button. Then they changed the experiment and had the machine dispense beans once in a while when the button was pushed. Again the monkey kept pushing the button to get more beans. However, this time when the machine stopped dispensing beans, the monkey kept pushing the button for a looooong time. He didn’t want to give up!

The conclusion seems to be that a stronger addictive behavior is formed when you are rewarded only sometimes, or unpredictably.

How this relates to me:

  • Email - When I check it there is only sometimes good news or useful/interesting information.
  • Wikipedia - When I click a new link, only sometimes do I find fascinating new trivia.

So these days, I try to consciously avoid these addictive types of behaviors. I’m also trying to think about the possibility of some lifehacks that make use of this addictive power in a positive way. I don’t have a good idea formulated yet, but I will let you know when I find one.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Moving to Amazon EC2

We are planning to move our server to Amazon EC2. We have been testing Tagaabo on EC2, and we are now confident that this move will make Tagaabo faster and more stable. We will let you know more detail soon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Inbox Thousands - The Antithesis to Inbox Zero

Inbox Zero is a set of tips by 43Folders to help you handle the barrage of constantly incoming emails and to help you keep the number of emails in your inbox at zero. It is quite a popular methodology and I think it’s great. Well, except for one thing. The name.

As of today, there are 4280 emails in my inbox. This may cause you to think that I am an incredibly disorganized person, and that it is pretty hypocritical for someone such as myself to work on an organizational tool such as Tagaabo. So yes, I do admit that I have a tendency to be pretty disorganized. It is precisely because I have struggled with this that I have taken such an interest in the organizational field. However, even with 4280 emails in my inbox, I am not at all worried about missing any important information, nor am I worried about forgetting to reply to important emails. I actually came to this state of Inbox Thousands after a long search for the best method of handling the deluge of emails that we deal with today. Let me explain.

Several years ago, once in a while I would spend a huge chunk of time cleaning up my email inbox. I remember one time, I spent an entire day! When I finished, I felt a sense of accomplishment, yet at the same time I had an uneasy feeling that something was very wrong.

When I learned about GTD, I tried to apply it to how I organized my emails, creating a “someday” folder, or a “next” folder etc. It helped to some extent, but eventually I found myself in the same state where my inbox count was far from zero. GTD really helped me organize most aspects of my life, but taming my massive email inbox was one area that I couldn’t seem to master.

Then I started working on Tagaabo. As it became functional enough to serve my everyday information management needs, I put it at the center of my information management. Without thinking about it that much, I started copying and pasting the important parts of emails into Tagaabo. I soon realized that this was a terrific solution for my flooding email problem. It was the first time since I started using email that I finally felt I was on top of my incoming emails.

As emails come in, I go over them. If I find any information I need to keep, I just copy and paste it into Tagaabo. If I see I need to reply to it, again I just copy and paste it into Tagaabo with a “todo” tag, and manage it just like any other To Do item. (Of course, if I can reply to it in 2 minutes or so, I just do it right away.) Once the important information is extracted this way, my inbox is no longer something important that I have to keep my mind on. So I just leave it as it is and don’t even try to organize it at all. That’s why I have thousands of emails in the inbox and am still not worried.

Also, I almost never delete the emails I receive. Once in a while there are times when just looking at email excerpts in Tagaabo aren’t enough and I need to take a look at the originals. And with the searching capability of today’s email client softwares, it is easy to spot the original email, especially when you have a piece of it in Tagaabo. (I use “spotlight” in the Mail.app on Mac OSX for email searching.)

So don’t manage email–it includes too much irrelevant stuff. Just manage bare information and actions. Keeping your inbox at count zero may be symbolic of an organized life, but it may also give you the illusion that it is the ultimate goal. It’s not. Your real purpose should be to stay on top of your incoming information flow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Go paperless!

I love working on paper…. When I’m deep in thought, working on new ideas, I find myself to be most effective when I scribble on paper as I think.

There is something about that natural physical action that cannot be replaced by even the best drawing tools on a computer screen.

As much as I love paper however, I hate it as well.

It can really accumulate and if I’m not careful my desk and workspace can become a cluttered mess!

But, I have found a wonderful solution. I started taking digital pictures of all my important papers, uploading them on tagaabo, and then throwing away the original paper.

For example, here is my sketch idea for tagaabo:


I even use this method for business cards. (I also keep the original business cards in a box, but that’s only because I feel sorry if throw them away. I don’t try to organize them at all.) Here are some that I got at a recent conference:


Some tips for taking the clearest and most readable photos of documents include:

  • Use a flash. This makes the shutter speed faster, resulting in a clearer image without blurring.
  • Take the picture from as close up as possible. This minimizes the blur caused by small hand movements.

Also, using Eye-fi is REALLY helpful. It automatically and wirelessly transmits my pictures to my Macbook, so I don’t have to bother connecting my camera to my computer all the time. Without it, I might get lazy about keeping up this habit….

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Log your questions

Questions are very important, especially when you are trying to learn something new.

When I read books that are hard to understand or are simply thick and intimidating–naturally I feel bored, discouraged, and have a difficult time concentrating on them.

However, I recently made a great discovery! When I have a particular question in mind and I am looking for the answer in the book I am reading, I find it much more interesting and easier to stay engaged. Sometimes I become so engrossed that I am shocked when I see how much time has passed while reading something that I previously found tedious and difficult.

How does that work?

I have a theory. I think that the human mind is naturally driven to rid itself of anything that makes it feel uneasy. And when a question pops up in your mind, that causes uneasiness. When you hear a quiz-type of question, doesn’t it bug you until you find out the answer?

Basically, your brain can’t stand not knowing something. So, this creates a natural curiosity that drives the mind seek the answers to questions, so it can return to a happy and balanced state of knowing. Perhaps our ancestors developed this thirst for answering questions in order to survive in nature. Maybe this is ingrained down to our very genes.

Good questions and not-so-good questions

I find that different types of question create different levels of mental uneasiness. And since we are looking at questions as a way to motivate us to learn, the bigger that uneasiness, the better.

For that reason, I think the best kind of question is a “why” question. In many cases, “why” questions indicate that you are feeling some kind of logical contradiction like “Why is it possible? I can’t believe it!”

“How” questions are also very good. They can indicate surprise like “How is it possible?” which also indicates a gap between what is and what you expected.

“What” questions, on the other hand, are not quite as useful. They indicate that you don’t know something, but they don’t include any feeling of mystery or intrigue.

However, sometimes you have to start out with a “what” question. For example when you start learning “Ruby on Rails,” the first question that might occur to you is “What the heck is ‘Ruby on Rails’ anyway?” So the first thing to do is to get a quick answer for that initial “what” question, and then to come up with a more detailed “why” or “how” question that will keep your mind engaged. “How does ‘Ruby on Rails’ make web application development more agile?” is a good example.

So, when you have a question, think of it as a wonderful opportunity! It can be a great learning motivator and a catalyst for you to focus. When a question occurs to you, lifelog it in Tagaabo with a question tag before you forget it. My questions listed in Tagaabo looks like this.

my questions

Staying on top of all the questions that pop up everyday is a fabulous way to keep track of what you want to learn about, as well as to accelerate your learning process.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

GTD on Tagaabo

GTD (Getting Things Done) is a life management method created by David Allen. This method helps you to achieve more while wasting less time, all with less stress. For more information on GTD there are many great resources such as this or this.

You can start to use GTD in many different ways. Some people implement it with pen and paper, while others may use special software. You will be happy to know that Tagaabo is compatible with GTD. In fact they work together perfectly because they both emphasize having everything in one place.

By the way, have you ever tried implementing GTD, only to give it up? Didn’t you find that paper-based solutions made you to do too many tedious bookkeeping types of chores, while software-based solutions forced their way of doing things on you? I felt that way, which is why I started developing Tagaabo. If you feel the same, Tagaabo is for you. It provides a nice middle ground between paper and conventional software, and is both efficient and flexible.

Before going forward, it might help you to take a look at this entry to understand the basic idea of tagging in Tagaabo.

So let’s look at how to implement GTD with Tagaabo. There are basically two main habits that you will start employing on a regular basis.

  1. As you lifelog, start using specific tags to organize tasks
  2. Bookmark some specific Tagaabo pages (I will give you a list of pages and explain how to use them), and refer to them every so often.


So first about adding specific tags. In addition to the regular todo tag, you will start using some new tags:

  • waiting – add this tag to anything that you are waiting for or are waiting to take action on
  • someday – for things you would like to accomplish someday, but not immediately
  • next – for things you will do as soon as you have some time
  • event – for things that will happen on a specified day

Also, you might have noticed that Tagaabo automatically adds a dated tag on To Do items with a due date.

In addition to the tags above, you will create your own project tags and context tags.

Project tags

Come up with tags that represent your projects. In my case, of course I have tagaabo tag, since for me development of Tagaabo is a project that generates To Do items. I also have a moving tag, since I moved to a new apartment recently and there are many To Do’s related to that. You might have just a few of them, or you might have many more than that.

Context tags

Come up with some tags that represent your contexts. I have an errand tag and a work tag. I also have a books2buy tag so that I don’t forget to buy books that I want to read.

As you lifelog, apply these tags to your items. Note that you can apply multiple tags at once. For example, for a work related low priority item, I apply “todo work someday”. If you are not sure at the moment which tag to add, don’t worry about it. Just lifelog and you can add and adjust tags later on.

Pages to bookmark

Next, bookmark the following Tagaabo pages and visit them regularly.

  1. Inbox


    This page will show you your 100 last lifelog items that don’t have a todo tag.

  2. Due Today


    This page gives you the list of To Do’s that should be done by today.

    till_today parameter in the URL is used for showing all of the items that are dated today and before. You can also get to this page by following “Items due today only” link (see the picture below) from regular To Do list (http://tagaabo.com/lifelog/todo).

    This link!

  3. Next


    This page shows you the list of all the things you want to do next. Whenever you have some extra time, go to this page and get busy!

  4. Event Calendar


    This is your calendar of events.

  5. Projects

    Bookmark the pages for each one of your project tags. The URL would look like this.


    These pages show you the current status of each one of your projects. Review and organize them so that they reflect the latest status of your projects. If you find a To Do item that can be done next, mark it with a next tag, so that it will also show up in the Next page.

  6. Contexts

    Bookmark the pages for each one of your context tags. The URL would look like this.


    These pages show you what you need to do in specific contexts. Review and organize them so that they reflect the current status.

  7. Waiting


    This page shows a list of items that you are waiting on. Review this page periodically so that you don’t forget what you are waiting on, and follow-up if necessary.

  8. Someday


    This page lists all of the items that you’d like to do someday. If you see something you want start to take action on, replace the someday tag with the next tag, set a specific date, or create a project for it.

  9. Due Date Calendar


    This is your calendar of deadlines.

  10. Miscelleneous To Do items

    First, start with this URL.


    If you have just a small number of To Do items in it, you can just bookmark it.

    If you have more than a manageable number of To Do items listed here, most likely a lot of To Do items from your projects or contexts are mixed in here. If so, click the right side of the button that is next to one of your project/context tag that looks like this.

    This button!

    That will filter out the To Do items from the project/context. Repeat this until the number of To Do items is reduced to a manageable size, or until you don’t have project/context tags for filtering anymore. Now bookmark that page. The resulting URL should become something like the following.


    The To Do items you see on this page are the ones that are not covered by any of the other pages I have explained above.

Weekly review

Now, I will explain how to use these pages in your weekly review.

  1. First, go to your Inbox page.

    Go over them and see if they remind you of anything that you need to do. If something occurs to you, create new todo tagged items. If you haven’t done so for a while, review older entries.

  2. Next, go to your Miscellaneous To Do items page, and process the To Do items listed there.

    Possible actions to take include:

    • If it will take less than 2 minutes to do, do it now and check it off!
    • Mark it with a next tag
    • Mark it with a someday tag
    • Set a deadline and defer (Click anywhere in the item text, or the pencil shaped “edit” icon, check the “Due date?” checkbox and set a date.)
    • Make it a project (create a project tag for it), or part of a project (tag with an existing project tag).
    • Mark it with one of your context tags.
    • Delegate it to someone and mark it with a waiting tag
    • If there is no action to take, delete it or remove the todo tag

    As you go with the above process, To Do items will be either resolved or moved to other pages.(After marking the items with tags, reload the page to see them disappear.) Keep the size of the items in this page as small as possible.

  3. Review the rest of the bookmarked pages.

    Now, your remaining To Do items are categorized and moved to appropriate pages. Review the rest of your bookmarked pages one by one and make sure they are up to date with current reality of your status.

This concludes the fundamentals of GTD on Tagaabo. This is just a basic introduction, so you can tailor it for your individual requirement by introducing your own tags and your own combination of tags.

Please let me know if you have any problems or questions around implementing it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lifelogging can save you time!

Are you efficient with your time?

Where does it all go? Why don’t you try actually recording everything you do for a day.

Starting now and for the next 24 hours, whenever you start something, lifelog it on Tagaabo. Tag it time_use or whatever you want to call it. And then when you finish, lifelog it under the same tag. Tomorrow, come back to this article and continue reading.

Did you do it? Congratulations!

Now, look back at all of your entries tagged with time_use.

Now that you know the beginning and ending time of all of your activities, you know exactly how you spent all of your time for the last 24 hours.

What do you think?

The first time I did this, I was shocked at how much time I was wasting every day.

Perhaps you have the same experience, or maybe you are more efficient.

But, did you notice that because you were monitoring your activities, you consciously tried not to waste time?

That happened to me. If you want to make the most of your time, I think it’s natural for this to happen.

Additionally, you may have discovered some habits and tendencies that you were not aware of.

In my case I found two tendencies in particular:

  • I was devoting WAY MORE time than I thought surfing Wikipedia and Mixi (a Japanese SNS).

  • I was losing a lot of time making insignificant decisions.

So to counter these time-eaters, I implemented the following measures (which works great for me!)

  • When I start surfing the web, I set a kitchen timer for a set time, say 30 minutes. When it rings, I stop no matter what.

  • When you recognize that a decision is not that important, just force yourself to choose quickly. For those insignificant decisions, I realized that the time I save deliberating over them is more valuable than the difference that the decisions make.

So, I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’ve figured out some great solutions for me to save time.

I think that is the key.

There are lots of established techniques on saving time.

However, since you probably waste time in your own unique way, you’ll have to figure out what will work best on your favorite time-killers.

But before you can come up with an effective solution to fight your own time-gobblers, you need to know where your time is going.

The reason you want to use tags to organize your To Dos

I think a To Do list is a great tool. Simply keeping a To Do list and checking items off as I complete them makes me feel like I have my life under better control. It clears out my brain and makes me more productive. However, there is one problem with a simple to do list. Scalability. When the number of To Dos reach upwards of 30 (which they probably will in this modern life), it stops being very effective. It just isn’t scalable.

The only way I know of to make a To Do list work more effectively is to divide and concur it. That way you can focus on specific parts of the the To Do list all at once, letting the rest go for the time being.

For example, you can divide your to do list based on:

  1. Where you will do it. (e.g. At home, At work, When I run errands)
  2. When you will do it. (e.g. As soon as I have time, Today, Tomorrow, Someday)
  3. The project the task is for. (e.g. part of my home improvement project or part of a consulting project for a particular client)
  4. With whom you will do it. (e.g. with my boss Paul or with my colleague Sarah)

This way, you can focus on items that are related to particular time, place, situation you are in, and forget about other things you don’t need to deal with right now.

If you are really organized, you can file your divided to do lists in a notebook or folder box that looks like this.

Picture 1

It’s pretty well organized, right? I actually used to have something like this. Unfortunately, this system also has a serious limitation. The problem is that some items inevitably appear in multiple lists.

For example, if you have a phone call that has to be made at work today, you want that item in your Today list, as well as in your At Work list. So you have to add the same item on both lists. Grrrr…. You complete the call and want to check the item off, again, you have to do it on both lists. Repeating this for each of your to do items can get old. If you are anything like me, after a while you’ll stop maintaining your system.

Fortunately, there is a better way! We can replace the regular folder box (above) with this magic folder box (below).

Picture 2.

In this magic folder box, the folders cross each other. And items on multiple lists are stored in the cross section of those folders. For example, a To Do item for the phone call you need to make today at work is stored in the cross section of the Today folder and the Work folder. This way, when you are done with the call, you can check off the item in the cross section only once, and it will affect both the Today list and Work list. Problem solved!

OK, but now of course, the new problem is that it is impossible to build a magic box like this in this three-dimensional world we live in. However, we can easily create a magic box like this if it is designed as a flexible database in a computer!

And…drumroll…. That is what Tagaabo is. And those tabs on the magic box are the tags you put on your To Do items. You can just put work today on the item for the phone call, and it will appear on both the work list and today* list. By putting tags on to do item, you can put your item on more than one of your divided To Do lists at once.

All the To Do items listed in Tagaabo.


All the work-related To Do items.


All the To Do items that should be done today.


  • In this post, I’m using a today tag as an example to explain the idea. However, in Tagaabo, as you can see in the above picture, you don’t need to add a today tag to an item. Instead, you can assign a given date to an item, and when the date is today, the item will appear under a special item list that shows the items due today. You can go to the list by following “Items due today only” link.

All the To Do items that should be done with Sarah.


All the non-work-related To Do items.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Lifelogging can change your life

What does the word lifelog make you think of?

Some people lifelog to share with the world what they are doing at any given time. That’s a fun way to use lifelogging publicly, but it can be a powerful personal tool as well.

Toshio Okada, Japan’s most famous ‘otaku’ commentator, was known for being obese. Recently he has had remarkable success losing weight with a diet plan that he created around lifelogging. He is now sharing the secret of his successful method with the world.

Toshio Okada on Wikipedia

History of his body and face

He calls it the Recording Diet.

It’s really easy. The most important aspect of the Recording Diet is keeping a record of everything that you eat. In his book he shares that simply by doing this every day he lost a significant amount of weight in the early stages of his diet.

Okay, so why would that work? How can you lose weight just by recording what you eat?

It’s a psychological trick. If you have a full record of everything that you eat, when you look at it later you may be surprised and shocked to see what your real habits are.

Also, when you are logging what you do, you subconsciously want to improve your track record. Even if you don’t show the log to anyone, you will make changes in your behavior.

So lifelogging has the potential to dramatically change your behavior for the better.

And when you change your behavior, you can improve the quality of your life.