5 Mar 2007

My Building Blocks

I read "Getting Things Done" over a year ago now and since then have read other books and posts on GTD and other productivity matters ("The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (/Families), 43 Folders etc). I have developed my own set of tools which I use regularly to help me stay on top of things. This system is not fixed and I make regular tweaks and test new products all the time - some get adopted, sometimes I revert to my original method.

I have several email accounts (personal, my company, current assignment etc) and I clear all of them down daily. By clear down I mean deal with, so I use the 2 minute mantra, that if it can be done in 2 minutes, why wait?... do it now. This mainly involves just reading them and filing them. I also have a paper inbox for post - I don't get as much of that, so this is easily managed. Mainly its bills that need paying or invoices to be filed.

I have 2 moleskines. A pocket moleskine that I carry with me at all times in my bag (more later) and an A5 moleskine which I use in meetings etc to jot down notes. I use a Fisher Space Pen to take notes (also kept in my bag).

Day Book
I used to fill in a day book (journal) at work - which has proved to be very useful when recalling information in the past. I have recently switched over to using Microsoft OneNote as a test replacement for a paper day book. I like the idea of having it electronically, searchable etc. Is there a similar product that could be used on the mac though? Any suggestions?

I use GCal as my calendar application - the only disadvantage being that an internet connection is required. For assignment related dated items I use Lotus Notes, which links all employees calendars together and allows meetings to be scheduled etc. I've used Lotus Notes for about 6 months now and I really don't like it very much. It just seems really old fashioned. When I get the mac I shall be using iCal.

Contact Management
As I've mentioned in past posts, my contact management is a mess. I'm looking forward to getting the mac (for many reasons), but one is that it will be a catalyst to shake things up and get realigned - particularly with contacts. I have so many places that store information at the moment that its really not managable.

Lists are critical areas of GTD, so its important that I have this right. Unfortunately, this is the area that I tweak most, which suggests that I'm not completely happy with the solution, maybe the mac will provide me that? At the moment I use Remember the Milk as my task manager - which is good. I'm obviously not completely happy with it though as I have a nagging doubt all the time. Again is based online (which can sometimes be a disadvantage). Merlin & Co have given many tips for applications for the mac, so I'm bound to find something that I like.

Tickler File
I have a 43 folders tickler file as per the GTD groupings of days and months. I use this to store documents that need action on certain dates, bills, holiday itineries etc This has permanent residence in the home office and gets reviewed weekly.

Again I'm always tweaking my review, I used to think Fridays was a good time, but now do it on Monday mornings. I look at the week ahead on my calendars, check through my projects and next actions lists, clear out inboxes and perform weekly admin tasks (raising invoices etc)

Other Tools
I've recently starting using quite a few of David Seah's Printable CEO forms - they suit my current assignment quite well. Its also got me thinking about what I would like in my own form if I made one. Some more online tools I use on a daily basis to help organise things are del.icio.us and Google Reader, which I use to tag articles to read and store for future reference. I use Microsoft excel and Money to record my finances.

At present I'm exclusively PC. I have a reasonably meaty desktop towers at the home office, which is home to all the business software and files (and gets regularly backed up). I have an old laptop which I use just to write these posts and record my day and a work laptop (which I think might be even older) supplied to me by my client, which has the necessary access to Lotus Notes etc. I'd like my mac to have VMWare installed so that I can switch to other images if required (I have already got an archive of several images)

I like bags! I usually always have a bag of some sort with me. I have a small bag which goes most places for essential gear, notebook, wallet, phone, TomTom etc. I also highly recommend a TimBuk2, which I use when I need to take more stuff around.

So, I hope that my new mac is going to bring together all my loose ends and make me more productive. On that note I've decided to get the mac in March no-matter what. If I have to upgrade to Leopard later so be it - I can't wait!


Jim said...

What version of Lotus Notes are you using? Current is R7.0.2
Yes, Notes has taken it's hits over the years for the out-of-date GUI. However, a public beta for R8 (redesigned UI) is about to hit the streets.

Phillip said...

We are running v7.0.2 here (but only recently upgraded - and that is an improvement). Maybe its just that I've never used it before, or the way that my current client has it setup - but I don't find it very user friendly. I do like the calendar compare feature that lets you schedule meetings knowing that everyone can make it.

In general it does everything I want it to, but it just doesn't look as good as other things.