When you try to organize your life do you go all analog or all digital or both?
All the memes floating around on the weeb about Getting Things Done and Lifehacks for the last few months have been pretty interesting. How many people are truly productive? Do you procrastinate when you should be working?
In order to become more productive I looked at how people I know get stuff done. I guess it shouldn't be surprising that every person I know has their unique schteeze for organizing their lives. Some people geekout and go all wifiubernerd whereas other people get all cave painting analog. I guess it shouldn't be surprising that the most efficient people I know use a hybrid system somewhere in the middle.
The most organized person I know is my girlfriend. She never forgets a birthday or misses a deadline. What makes her such an organizational ninja? I believe it's the simplicity her hybrid technique. It's flawless.
My girlfriend started using her modded Hipster PDA long before it was even called a Hipster PDA. By modded I mean she simplified the HPDA and just uses a tiny stationary pad. There's no fancy settings and preferences like the HPDA or categories just old school chronological order. Each page is a new day and has simple lists of tasks to be completed. When they're completed they are scratched off the list. Elegant, simple, and efficient.
Another analog technique she uses is a simple paper folder system. Her three folders include:
- To Do Folder
- Tasks in Progress Folder
- Finished Folder
In terms of digital productivity shes half old school half new school. She uses Outlook for her work email, calendars, and reminders which is totally old school but effective. Her personal Gmail account houses all personal stuff from pictures from her family to every email I've ever sent her.
That's all I could get her to tell me over messenger today because the conversation was "boring" and she needed to "get stuff done." She's so efficient, so productive, so street, so gang. The combination of these systems makes her technique probably the most organized out of anyone I know. Very office ninja.
Other people's systems:
In an attempt to reconcile the analog and digital realm, my sister uses a super tech Franklin Covey calendar/planner/notebook thing. It's like a tricked out hipster PDA in a nice leather case. Think Bentley HPDA. This system is a hybrid because its a Franklin Covey planner with a WiFi enabled Palm Pilot as well. Is it too complicated? Does it have too many "settings and preferences"?
My dad uses just about the most analog system you can imagine to organize his life: another human. His secretary prints out 8X10 calendars with one month per page and fills it all in. She faxes it to him, he makes adjustments faxes them back and the process repeats. Not the most efficient system you could think of but it does the job. Also, hes cheating by using another person!
My Mom uses hard cover book style notebooks with blank pages. She writes phone numbers and contacts in the back and writes notes chronologically front to back. Clean and simple but easy to lose stuff.
What do I do? I have no system. My system is no system. Hence this post...
I currently have 5 computers and I can tell you that having 5 computers is ridiculous. All these machines have different information on them and its impossible to keep track of it all. In order to try and remedy this I've started using wikis. I've starting consolidating information in wiki form so that it's not stored on any one computer. It becomes accessible from any connected computer. I also store files like serial numbers for software and the like in my Gmail which is also online. In other words I'm trying to offload all this important info so that it can be securely accessible from anywhere.
Another problem with having 5 computers (some mac some PC) is that my contacts are spread out all over the place. My phone tries to sync via Bluetooth to my address book on my mac but that never works. One of the few things that are starting to getting organized are my bookmarks thanks to Del.icio.us. But the rest of this stuff is a mess and I'm going to remedy that.
For paper notes I use a leather Romano Cavalini & Co notebook that I ganked from my brother. It's seriously lacking in metadata and rss feeds ;) It's also too big and too expensive. So, I'm obviously in serious need of better analog tools as well. Should I create a custom HPDA or keep my notebook style?
Some people I know try to go all digital which is problematic because it's too structured, too difficult to input, too expensive and too fragile. You can create a todo list in iCal but what if you spill coffee on your mac? What if the syncing of your contacts goes wrong and the data gets corrupted? Pieces of paper can't get virus' or be corrupted. You can also get a stack of three by fives for like 2 bucks... Then again, with paper you can't have your friends/colleagues collaborating on your next action list like you can with a wiki.
I guess the point is let the machines do what their good at, storage and retrieval. Use pens and paper for what they're good at, free flowing/non linear thought and quick jotting. This sounds obvious but I think people (including me) often choose the wrong productivity tools and end up becoming less productive as a result.
Useful Productivity Tools:
- Hipster PDA
- Organizing the Hipter PDA
- Hipster PDA In Use
- Trick out the Hipster PDA
- More on Hipster PDA
- Pics of the Hipster PDA in use
- Globe and Mail on HPDA (bugmenot it)
- Moleskin Hacks
- More stationary fetishism photos