Dear Mark: Thoughts on Simpleology
I’m always trying to improve myself. I’m always learning, always looking, always seeking. I’m a bit of a technophile, I love the ways that technology can improve our lives. I use all sorts of systems – including task management systems. I’ve used a number of them over the years – most recently I was a big Asana advocate (and I still use it)…
One system that I began using way back in the day (2005, 2006?) and have continued to use off-and-on since then is Simpleology. Lately I’ve been using it more and more…I’m not ready to switch everything over YET, but I am impressed by the system and wanted to share a bit about it with everyone…as well as disclose to Mark Joyner (Founder/CEO of Simpleology) and his co-workers my thoughts on the system and the areas that need to improve/be refined before it can really, REALLY be what I need.
Why Simpleology is Different
The first thing to note is that Simpleology is different from other task management systems. Are you familiar with David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology? It utilizes task management – but it is not just a task management system – rather it is a process by which one engages life, especially the task oriented aspects of it. Simpleology is along the same lines.
I suppose you could use Simpleology simply as a task management tool – but its real power is when you get up in the morning (or in the evening in preparation for the next day) and work through the workflow that is Simpleology. It takes the massive amount of ideas, problems, opportunities swirling around in your brain and guides you through the process of selecting which tasks you should actually work on today. It helps you be productive in the right areas and to feel productive at the end of the day.
With other task management systems (e.g. Asana) I sometimes feel overwhelmed. Great, I’ve got hundred of tasks and sub-tasks…but what do I need to do today? How do I decide?
In addition to this, Simpleology provides a number of “life hacks” that help you increase your productivity – and one of its strongest (and weakest) points is the ongoing interactive training that is available to teach you the usage of the web application.
What It Needs
I’m using Simpleology, but I’m not fully sold on it yet…Here are my concerns, big and small:
- The interactive training for Simpleology is great – it keeps you moving forward at a good pace – but it is also frustrating. Sometimes I just want a PDF user manual to Simpleology. I want to begin using some features before I’m trained on them via the interactive training. Most features are fairly intuitive, but the exact mechanisms and business logic underlying these features isn’t clear and could cause me issues down the road…Here are a few areas I need to know the nuances of w/out waiting for the interactive training:
- Recurring Tasks
- Observe & Change
- Engines (this is supposed to allow custom programmability / triggers within Simpleology)
- Projects (this is a new feature in 5.5, I haven’t messed with at all)
- Delegation Station (This seems powerful, but I need to know exactly how it works – what happens when the individual isn’t a Simpleology member and I assign them a task? Can they complete it and tell me it has been completed w/out becoming a member?
You can’t jump between different sections of Start My Day. That isn’t true, you just need to change to Expert mode instead of Guided.
- The pricing model is unwieldy. You can get a great base of features for free, then move up to pro for $7/mo., but then the ultimate, elite package is $57/mo. I’m not suggesting that is too much – but there needs to be more steps in-between. For example, I’d suggest making the Business Growth, Financial Growth, Recurring Tasks, Observe & Change, Update Trackers, Ben Franklin Habits, and Prioritize add-on modules that can be purchased individually. I really have no use for the Business Growth or Financial Growth modules at this juncture. I can probably live without the Update Trackers or the Ben Franklin Habits module – but the Recurring Tasks and Prioritize modules are must haves for me – but there is no way I can afford to spend $57/mo. to get these features (ok, recurring comes with pro…). I think this would increase revenue – and folks might still find themselves throwing in all $57/mo. eventually – but it is a more gradual progression (you gotta boil a frog in a pot by slowly turning up the heat, right?).
The lack of storage for historical tasks. Mark informed me these limits are done away with in 5.5.
- Under Lists there is no way to make a task disappear from its list once it is completed without deleting it. It should be able to be moved automatically to archived targets once it is completed.
- Under Lists there is no reason to have “Mental Lockbox (Legacy)” for anyone who doesn’t have items in this category.
Other Stuff I’d Like
Here are a few items I’d like to see, but that aren’t core necessities for me (rated 1-10, 1 being unimportant to me, 10 being very important…although none of these reach the importance of the big items listed above)…
- A Simpleology Calendar. (3)
- Multiple Medium and Long-Term Targets. (6)
- Shared Checklists for Accountability. (cf. Goal Buddy) (8)
- Recurring Tasks on Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Custom Intervals. (10) – Is this implemented in 5.5?
- Publish API for Custom Application Development. (7)
- Delegate with Email, No Simpleology Account Necessary. – (10) Is this implemented in 5.5?
- Android/iPhone Mobile Apps. (10)
- Monthly/Weekly Brainstorms. (3)
- Work Versus Personal. (8)
A Little History
[I’ve never met Mark in real life, I’ve never had an extended conversation with him, but I have used his products for years and followed his journey over time…and I figured I’d write down my thoughts and memories before I forget them…This section has little practical use.]
I haven’t been online as long as some, but longer than most. I remember this slick marketing guy I used to follow – Mark Joyner. He wrote a bunch of books, founded a bunch of companies (ROIbot, SearchHound, StartBlaze, Aesop Search Engine, etc.), and I thought ran Trafficology – but it seems Wayne Yeager ran this, maybe Mark can clear that up for me? Perhaps my memory is just lying to me. If you had to sum up Mark in one phrase at the time I would choose the title from his 2002 book MindControlMarketing0.
Mark had a way with words that soothed you into compliance – and he was willing to teach you how you could become a mind control master as well.
Then in April 2003 Mark sent out a surprising email. You can read it in its entirety here. I think you’ll quickly see the power of his sales phrasing (mind control marketing). I was never comfortable with selling using these techniques – but I still followed Mark for a lot of his more mainstream guerrilla marketing tips (is that an oxymoron?).
Mark decided it was time to go find himself, “Bottom line is, it’s time for me to simplify. My business has become so incredibly complex that it just isn’t fun any more. It’s time for me to clean everything up, finish the unfinished business, and move on.”
Then in 2005 Mark came back on the scene with Simpleology. I remember giving it a try pretty early on. I thought it was cool – I don’t remember much about it other than some PDF books teaching productivity hacks. The usual mind control marketing techniques were evident in the early rendition of the Simpleology site. Mark used the popular technique of offering the basics for free and then charging you for the premium parts once you were hooked. Don’t get me wrong, what Mark gave away for free had real value.
Things took a much more concise approach by Oct. 2006. By 2007 things had developed to the first iteration of the web-based software that has become so powerful now and the old marketing techniques seemed to be taking a back seat. I began using the software again sometime during these early days.
In 2011 the site received a complete reboot – and I once again began using the system. Now, Simpleology has been innovated upon yet again – upgraded to 5.5 and I was lucky enough to be selected as one of the early access users.
I’ve been impressed by Mark’s movement from mind control marketing techniques to creating products that don’t need any mind control to sell. You’ll see some of that old style peering through every once in a while – sometimes you get redirected to pages that encourage you to sign up now and get huge bundles and deals (even within Simpleology). I kind of wish these would go away – but to each his own.
- It doesn’t have to be PDF, HTML, DOC, whatever is fine – just something I can read!↩
- He always harped on his time spent in the military working in intelligence and how this provided him with many of the skills he shared regarding MCM.↩
- Not that his earlier products lacked value, just that now his products contain such value that persuasive selling isn’t necessary.↩