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Summary:

I’m quite pleased with my Gmail Tasks GTD solution — it’s working very well and might turn out to be more of a long-term solution than I had originally thought. However, one of the problems with a computer-based GTD system is that when you’re away from your computer — at the gym, say — you need a way to store ideas, which you then have to remember to transfer into the Inbox on your computer-based system later.

There’s a simple way to do this using Memo, a service from Spinvox. Memo is a note-taking service you can use with your phone. Call a number, leave your message, and Spinvox converts the speech to text and emails it to a designated account. This is really handy for use with GTD. I’ll explain how I’m using it with my Gmail Tasks system, but you could also use it quite easily with any other GTD app.

logoI’m quite pleased with my Gmail Tasks GTD solution — it’s working very well and might turn out to be more of a long-term solution than I had originally thought. However, one of the problems with a computer-based GTD system is that when you’re away from your computer — at the gym, say — you need a way to store ideas, which you then have to remember to transfer into the Inbox on your computer-based system later.

There’s a simple way to do this using Memo, a service from Spinvox. Memo is a note-taking service you can use with your phone. Call a number, leave your message, and Spinvox converts the speech to text and emails it to a designated account. This is really handy for use with GTD. I’ll explain how I’m using it with my Gmail Tasks system, but you could also use it quite easily with any other GTD app. You could also use Jott, a similar speech-to-text service, but that’s no good for me as it’s only available in the U.S.

First, sign up for a free Spinvox Memo account (Memo is available in the U.S, the UK, Canada, France, Germany and Spain). After signing up, you’ll be sent Spinvox’s Memo phone number. Store this number in your phone’s contacts.

Then, when you’re away from your computer and you think of a task, just dial the number and record your message. Spinvox will then convert the message to text and email it to your Gmail inbox. The text-to-speech works very well. It struggles with some technical words (it phonetically spells any words it can’t figure out), but for the purposes of taking quick notes it’s easily good enough.

Once you’re back at your computer it’s just a case of copying and pasting the note from the email into the Inbox list of your Gmail Tasks (or any other app), and the idea is safely stored in your trusted GTD system.

Copying a note from Spinvox to Gmail Tasks

Copying a note from Spinvox to Gmail Tasks

One feature that would be nice to see would be the option to put the message text in the email subject line instead of the body of the email. That way, you wouldn’t even have to copy and paste the details across to Tasks; you could just click More actions -> Add to Tasks in Gmail to create the task automatically. If this functionality is a priority for you, you could probably write a script that moved the message into the subject line — but for the occasional note it’s no big deal to copy and paste.

I tend to think of things I need to add to GTD at the most inconvenient of times, often when I’m nowhere near a computer. However, I always have my phone with me. This system makes sure I don’t forget any ideas I have away from the office.

Have you used Spinvox? What do you think?

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  2. I developed part of Spinvox’s software down in Marlow a couple of years ago, and know from first hand experience that they quite literally rock the house.

    I’m interested to see how your use of GMail Tasks (GTasks??) is working out. Especially since you mentioned that you were still looking for the perfect GTD Windows client.

    If you find yourself looking for a Windows client again, here’s a challenge :)

    - Nip over to Balsamiq.com and ask for an “I’m an awesome blogger gimme free stuff” license, they give them out like candy :)

    If you can mockup some ideas for your perfect GTD app, I’m always on the lookout for my next project :)

    p.s. Balsamiq also quite literally rocks the house.

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  3. * I use my phone to write myself e-mails to send to my gmail account.
    * Same concept for events, except that I also use Gcal as my tickler.
    * I have Gcal e-mail me my agenda each day, plus text me reminders.
    * I keep a pocket notebook/pen to write down any task that have to be done before I’ll get back to my computer where I can tell Gcal what to remind me about.

    Admittedly this all started when I realized that the Notes and Calendar applications on the Samsung Instict phone were about as useful as being the only person in the room who knew Morse Code. Luckily the e-mail app works pretty well.

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  4. I’ve been the same sort of thing using Dial2Do – also free for all of their services, at least for the time being. Dial2Do does put the message text in the subject line so you’re right – you just add it directly as a task, if you don’t mind having the [Dial2Do Reminder} also included. Dial2Do also has a bit broader selection of countries the service is available in if you need that option as well.

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  5. Love the concept. Have been using Memo for GTD stuff for some time now.

    Incidentally, I’ve discovered that some of the SpinVox Community like to use Memo with something like Evernote, which keeps all your notes in one place.

    Maybe something worth looking at?

    Cheers,

    James

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  6. Yes, I’ve been using Spinvox Memo for a while. It is GREAT, really useful, and the translation it does is the best i’ve seen. I also use their Voicemail-to-Text service, which again is wonderful. Big fan of Spinvox – although I’ve been worried about reports that they are burning money at an alarming rate.

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  7. I use this system (Calling SpinVox) with evernote. I call and tell it what ever I want, and then just search evernote (my digital brain) and it is all there. This is awesome if you are forgetful!!!

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  8. I just saw this post over at TMC….

    I’m so mad at Spinvox. I’m an Alltel customer and recently instead of a voicemail transcription, I received this message from Spinvox:
    “Dear customer. We are employees of SpinVox. We convert your messages here in Pakistan. Since SpinVox has stopped has paying us. We won’t be able to convert your messages from now onwards. There is no software that converts the messages. We humans do. – powered by SpinVox”
    Spinvox is clearly just an elaborate call center operation with no real speech technology. Whereas, Google is making genuine innovation in the space. It is laughable that Ms. Domecq continues to insist underpaid workers in Pakistan qualify as “speech technology”.
    Here’s hoping SpinVox starts paying their bills…

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  9. you can also use Google Voice (was GrandCentral) if you setup the phone your calling from (your cell) in a group that “goes straight to voicemail” and so when you call your Google Voice number and leave a message it will send a audio and transcription to whatever email you set. I’ll have to compare it to SpinVox to it for this basic use…

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