The Secret Weapon

I’ve been owing you guys a review of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey for a while, now. Unfortunately for you, or fortunately – for me, the serendipitous order of my last few posts has lead me down a rabbit hole of learning to be effective, efficient and free of stress. All of this coincided with the start of biking weather and the windy season which pulled me outside more often than not. Now, you’re about to benefit from my readings and my learnings along the way. There were several dozen good take-aways from 7-Habits. I highly recommend that you read it. I’m not going to review it because there are literally thousands of good reviews out there. I’ve tried to find a way for others to read my highlights from the Kindle edition of the book without success. Some of the most valuable things that I took from 7-Habits were related to “putting first things first” and working in Quadrant II – Important but NOT Urgent things.

Anyway, after reading 7-Habits, and while I was trying to put the lessons learned into practice, I posted about the things that I would do to improve Outlook. One of those things was to allow hash tags that were searchable/categorizable. That lead me to an unsuccessful search for an outlook plug-in that would allow you to add tags to an email or accomplish any of the other things that I thought would be awesome for Microsoft Outlook. That search led me to The Secret Weapon. I’ll link that below… I don’t want you distracted just yet. The Secret Weapon allows you to set up and use the system called Getting Things Done in a 21st century way. Getting Things Done is a book by David Allen. I’d heard of it and even played around with the system when I first started using XMind. However, I’d not read the book. So, having stumbled across this system twice in 3 months and seeing how well it worked in XMind without having read the book, I decided it was about time to get the book and read it.

Getting Things Done is an easy read. It’s a considerably longer than it needs to be and it is clear that it was written before smart phones and PCs were ubiquitous, but the tips and tools he offers are really effective. I got everything that I need from the first 150 pages of the 250+ page book. The rest if really unnecessary when you apply the GTD system with The Secret Weapon.

I seriously suggest that you read the first 150 pages of Getting Things Done by David Allen. Check it out from the library. Don’t bother buying it. Hell, borrow it from me if you live nearby.
Download and read The Secret Weapon.
Download Evernote. Download Evernote for home and for work and for wherever else you have a computer.
Download Evernote for your smart phone. They have versions for all of the popular platforms.

Now, I have my entire life’s outstanding action items in one place – not floating around in the back of my mind. No need to try to remember those little nagging chores that you keep meaning to do. No more forgotten items at the store. Project management is a breeze with this system. I’ve even devised a notebook and note title system that I can use as a calendar so that my day’s required items and meetings don’t get lost in the shuffle. I now have nearly 100 different tags that are easily managed and organized by nesting and following a naming convention that works well.

My only wish now is that Evernote was an email client. If I didn’t have to move things back/forth between email and Evernote, my system would be seamless.

If you do decide to implement this system and you’d like to set up a calendar notebook, here’s what I did.
Create a notebook called Calendar
When you have items that are date specific that you need to remember or be reminded of something on a particular date, then begin the name of the note with the date in the format [YYYYMMDD HH:mm]. So, for example, if you need to be reminded that on June 5th at noon you have a Dr. appt, you might name the new note “20120605 12:00 Go to Dr Bob’s” Then, you can sort the notebook by title rather than by date created. Check that folder daily for things that you need to know today or in the coming days.

Let me know if you set this up for yourself and share tags that you think are keys to your own success with the system.

4 Guys And A Roof LLC

Replacing a roof isn’t something the average family does several times. A roof lasts a good long time. As such, when you’re in the position of having to spend enough money to buy a decent used car on something that will affect 1) your home’s energy efficiency, 2) your home’s appearance, 3) your home’s value, 4) your own peace of mind, you want to use a company that you can trust to do a good job. How you find that company can vary greatly. For many purchases of these types, people rely on the word of mouth from friends who have had to make similar purchases. This is that word of mouth.

If you need a new roof now, or you may need a roof soon, I strongly recommend that you give a call to 4 Guys And A Roof LLC.

Here’s a synopsis of my experience with them.
When I called to request a quote for my roof, I got sent to voicemail. I left my name and number and requested a call back. Within 1/2 a day, Jamie returned my call. I explained that my home’s roof needed to be replaced and that I’d like to get an estimate. The very next afternoon, Jamie went to my house during regular work hours – I was not required to be there, but he offered to do it as an appointment – and examined my roof. When he was finished, he left a very professional packet between my doors which included shingle options (I never knew there were so many) and the estimate for the work to be performed. The quote included a detailed breakdown of work that I never imagined went into replacing a roof like replacing the drip edge, installing vents, using ice guard sweeping the yard with a magnet, and who, exactly, is responsible for sweeping up after the hauling company removes the dumpster.

The quoted price from 4 Guys And A Roof was the most detailed and accurate of the quotes that I received. And, to top it off, they were cheaper than the competition. Because of Jamie’s knowledge of the types of roofs in the area and the history of how roofs were applied over the span of more than 100 years, he was able to identify my roof for exactly what it was and what would be required to replace it. The other estimates that I received completely missed the mark in this regard. On the afternoon before the work was performed, Jamie made one more visit to my home to show me the color options and discuss what would look good with my home’s current and future colors. He also explained and demonstrated how the other roofing companies misidentified the work to be performed in their estimates.

I left for work at 6:45 on the day the roof was installed and I returned at 4:30. The only evidence that they had been there was a brand spanking new roof on top of my house, leaf-rake marks on my lawn, and a small pile of debris (smaller than a dustpan full) on the driveway where the dumpster had been. There were no little corner pieces of roofing laying around. There was nothing in or under my bushes that would indicate that anyone had ripped off my old roof and filled a dumpster with it. There were no nails in my driveway. There were no marks on the rain gutters from ladders. Just a pretty new roof.


These are the words I would use to describe 4 Guys And A Roof LLC.

Odometer YTD

409.67 + 153.54 = 563.21
What an amazing March we had. Several record temperature days including the highest temperature ever recorded during the month of March. As such, I was able to get in just over 409 miles in the saddle. Tomorrow, I’ll take the bike in to Bike Route to get the new setup for the Assault on Mt. Mitchel. Going with a 30/12 cassette in the back and a new derailleur/chain. I hope that’s enough!