Tutorial: Step-By-Step With Kizby

This tutorial presents a walkthrough of using Kizby to plan a wedding. As part of the walkthrough, we'll identify some tips or strategies for becoming a Kizby power user. This tutorial is intended to complement The Kizby Guide.

This tutorial does assume that you have already downloaded and installed Kizby. Please following the "Installation" section of the The Kizby Guide.

Please direct any questions or errors found in this document, or with Kizby itself, to our support page found at http://support.kizby.com.

Last revised: Jan 27, 2011

Terminology

We'll use a few terms that may not be familiar to all readers, so it's best to provide some definitions.

Capture
Write or describe some concept in a concrete form. Often used in the context of transcribing something to be done as a task.
Structure or Meta-data
Capturing information can be useless if it can't be used or acted upon. When capturing an item, it's often possible to add additional useful information that can be used for classifying, searching, or distinguishing the item from others.
Flat vs Hierarchical
A flat list is a single-level sequence of items. A hierarchical list has multiple levels (e.g., sub-points or children); in graph theory, such an arrangement is called a tree. This document, for example, has a hierarchical organization of sections, subsections, and subsubsections. Other more complicated organizations can be had, such as directed acyclic graphs.
Scale
An engineering term referring to how a system behaves under increasing loads. For example, it is easy to search a linear list with a dozen or so items, but the ease does not scale to hundreds of items.
Scope
Generally used to indicate an area or concept that has bounds. Often used by consultants and project managers in determining what is to be included and excluded from a project.

About Kizby

Kizby is a personal information management tool that seeks to bring the power of large-scale project planning tools to individual users.

Kizby embodies a fairly simple philosophy:

Getting Started

Installing Kizby

Getting started with Kizby is pretty easy: you first need to download and install Kizby, and then run Kizby. If you haven't already, please follow the installation instructions in The Kizby Guide.

Running Kizby

Having installed Kizby, you'll then need to run Kizby. This is generally as easy as double clicking on the Kizby executable in the location where you installed it!

Kizby's main window, entitled Projects and Tasks should appear. This window has three perspectives, as shown in the upper-left: Dashboard, Planning, and Archives. The Projects and Tasks window starts with the Dashboard; this perspective provides a set of queries to select tasks that match some set of criteria. We'll come to the dashboard in a bit.

Kizby at startup, showing the Project and Tasks window with the Dashboard perspective

Defining Your First Project

wedding task list; please forgive the terrible handwriting!

For the sake of this tutorial, pretend you are organizing a wedding. You've just come from an exciting brainstorming session with a number of tasks, and want to start some project planning with Kizby.

Before we embark on creating our first project, we'll briefly digress for a discussion on tasks, projects, and what makes a good project or task description.

A Digression on Projects and Tasks

Projects and tasks are the primary work structures in Kizby, and Kizby is designed to support creating and using thousands of projects and tasks. Kizby requires that a task must be associated with a project.

Ideally a task should represent a concrete action, something that can be achieved as a logical step. And ideally a projects represents a desired outcome or goal, whether that be an end-product (sometimes called a deliverable), an event, or even an interim step to the larger outcome.

It should be possible to ask of a project: "When will this project be finished?" If the answer is "uncertain" or "never", then the project is likely poorly defined.

That said, it's often useful to have one or more catch-all projects. Such projects serve to group single-step tasks that simple enough that they do not warrant being made into full-blown projects. For example, deposit payment cheques is unlikely to be sufficiently complex to warrant being made into a separate project! Such projects are better thought of as checklists. Kizby can be used entirely with catch-all projects, effectively becoming a checklist manager.

You may want to create checklist-style projects to correspond to different contexts or themes in your life. For example: "work", "home", "renovations", or for particular clubs or hobbies.

Creating a Catch-All Project

Coming from the wedding meeting, we have a long list of tasks relating to finding a venue, catering, a DJ, an officiant, and building an invitation list. But it's not clear what should be made into a project and what should be left as a task.

This situation is actually pretty common. And coming up with a project structure, although valuable, can be daunting! Rather than creating and populating a project structure from scratch, we instead recommend creating a checklist project and adding all tasks to this project. You can then build the project structure organically as you go along. Kizby has a number of features to support this type of create-then-refine processing.

Let's first create a catch-all project. We'll create a project called "Wedding Checklist". First, click on the Planning button to switch to the Planning perspective. Whereas the Dashboard perspective is task-focused, the Planning perspective is project-focused.

Kizby's Planning perspective

If this is the first time you've started Kizby, you may have some example projects already defined; we encourage you to look at them and mark them as "Archived" when they are of no use.

There are four ways to create a project in Kizby:

  1. Using File → New Project…;
  2. Clicking the plus button (plus icon) on the Projects pane (on the left-hand side of the window);
  3. Right-clicking in the Projects pane and selecting New Project… from the context menu;
  4. Through the keyboard shortcut CtrlP (MacOS X:P).

This should pop-up a project editor dialog where can start defining our wedding checklist project. In the following screenshot, we've filled in several fields:

New project editor

This dialog has a number of fields and can initially seem quite overwhelming. But it needn't be: in Kizby, you provide as much or as little information as you have available. You can always add additional information later. Click Finish when complete.

Tasks defined within a project will automatically inherit some values from its parent project, specifically, the Context, Location, Tags.

Adding Tasks

Having created the catch-all project, we proceed to create tasks from our meeting notes. Kizby provides six ways to create tasks:

  1. Using File → New Task…;
  2. Clicking the plus button (plus icon) on the Tasks pane to the left (on the upper-right-hand side of the window);
  3. Right-clicking in the Project pane and selecting New Task… from the context menu. This action will cause the currently-selected project to be set as the task's project.
  4. Right-clicking in the Tasks pane and selecting New Task… from the context menu;
  5. Through the keyboard shortcut CtrlT (MacOS X: T).
  6. Though Task → Add Multiple Tasks…, also available through the the keyboard shortcut CtrlAltT (MacOS X: T).

Since we have a number of tasks to enter at once, we'll use the last method. Select Task → Add Multiple Tasks… and then add the tasks as follows:

Add Multiple Tasks dialog

Click OK when complete.

Refactoring Tasks and Projects

We now have the start to planning a wedding. But in looking at these items, it quickly becomes clear that some are more complicated and require multiple steps. For example, finding a venue entails contacting the various candidate venues to request their availability, and determine their features and catering possibilities. Some task can only follow after completing other tasks; building an invitation list requires getting the parents' desired guest lists.

Transforming a Task into a Project

We'll first transform the Find possible venues into a project. Select the task, and either right-click or select the Task menu, and select the Transform to Project…. This action will prompt for new tasks to be added to the newly-transformed project. Here we can enter tasks to contact the various venues being considered.

Transform to Project dialog

Click OK when complete. Note that the task no longer appears in the Wedding project, and now appears in the Projects pane. Selecting the new project should reveal the three new tasks.

The Planning perspective, after the transform

It might make sense to modify the project description to Book venue. There are a two ways to edit a project:

Transformed projects are made into child projects of the original task's parent project. The Project → Promote Project and Project → Demote Project support making projects into top-level or child projects of other projects.

Moving Tasks Between Projects

Returning to the Wedding project, we see that it would likely make sense to create a project for building the invitations list.

As in the previous section, use the Transform to Project... to transform the Build invites list to a project. But this time simply click OK rather than add any new tasks.

Now select the two invitation-related tasks (in this example: Get B's M&D's required and would-like guests and Get G's M&D's required and would-like guests) and drag them and drop them onto the new Build invites list. This action is called drag and drop. The following screenshot attempts to illustrate what the process looks like:

The action of DND

Find more about Drag and drop (DND) in The Kizby Guide.

Linking Dependencies

Return to the Wedding project; your screen should look something like the following:

State of the Wedding project after DND

Kizby sorts tasks (and projects) through a combination of factors including the dependencies between tasks, start and due dates, task priorities, and task status (including whether a task is completed). In this project, the tasks have the same status and priority, no start or due dates, and no dependencies. As a result, the tasks are displayed in alphabetical order and the Arrange next meeting for Tuesday task is listed first when it possibly should be the last. After all, there's little point in a next meeting if there's been little progress!

In Kizby, you can set dependencies between tasks through drag and drop. Click and select the Arrange next meeting for Tuesday task and drag it onto the Follow-up with F's caterer task. The cursor should indicate the Link mode (see The Kizby Guide for details). This action establishes a dependency between the two tasks, and the Arrange next meeting for Tuesday should now be sorted after the Follow-up with F's caterer task.

The Arrange task is linked to the Follow-up task

Try linking the Follow-up with F's caterer task to the Ask F re: caterer recommendation. You can also link tasks to projects, and projects to tasks.

Tasks can be duplicated by dropping them onto a project when in the Copy mode.

Setting Dates

There are many schools of thought on managing and ordering tasks. Some prefer setting dates for all work items, whereas others prefer setting dates only when they are hard requirements. If this wedding is to take place in late April, there are some hard deadlines!

Perhaps the first deadline is that a venue should be secured at least two weeks before the wedding. Double click on the Book venue project to bring up the project dialog. Click on the calendar near the Due field and select April 8. You can alternatively click in the adjoining text field and use the arrow keys to change the different components of the dates; if a date is not shown, the or keys will populate the field with the current date, and hitting Backspace or Delete will remove the date. Click Finish and you will see the project now has a due date set to the future.

Dates can also be adjusted, as can many other properties, through the project or task's context menus. Right-click on the Build invites list project and select Change Due Date → Monday. The Build invites list project should now be sorted before the Book venue project since it is due earlier.

You can apply field changes, such as due dates, to multiple tasks and projects at the same time. Simply select the tasks and projects and then bring up the context menu using a right-click.

You can read more about the task and project sort algorithm in The Kizby Guide. The sort can be overridden by clicking on the column headers.

Journalling Progress

Many people find it useful to record accomplishments or jot down details about the work or discoveries made during their day. Kizby's Journal feature supports taking quick date-stamped jottings. Use File → New Journal... or key CtrlL (MacOS X: L) to pop-up a journal entry dialog:

Journal entry dialog

Journal entries are tagged with the currently selected project. The Journal pane, found in the lower-right of the Projects and Task window, shows the journal entries associated with the currently selected project.

There is also a separate Journal window for examining journal entries accessible through Window → Journal.

Journalling support is not available in the Kizby Budget package.

Taking Notes

It is often useful to record more persistent, undated notes. Although you can record notes in a task or project's Details field, Kizby's Notes feature supports taking more stand-alone notes. Create a new note through File → New Note... or key CtrlN (MacOS X: N); this action will create a note in the separate Notes window:

Journal entry dialog

Notes are tagged with the currently selected project. The Notes pane, also found in the lower-right of the Projects and Task window, shows the notes associated with the currently selected project.

The separate Notes window is also accessible through Window → Journal.

Notes support is not available in the Kizby Budget package.

Conclusion

We hope this tutorial has provided a good overview of Kizby. We encourage you to experiment with the example projects and try other features such as:

We recommend that you visit the various Kizby forums for tips and connecting with other Kizby users.

We welcome feedback on improvements and features to add to Kizby or to this tutorial. Please use the feedback forms or send email to support@kizby.com.