Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Time Management Tools Needed

Help, please!

Lately, I've been pulled in multiple directions. Between the kids, part-time job, contract work, blog creation and writing assignments, work on my novel, my husband's cleaning business, girl scout leader responsibilities, and editing the church newsletter, I barely have time for housework, reading, or _______ (fill in the blank - just about anything else fits here). I look back and wonder, how did I used to handle a full load? And I ponder, how do others do it?

I remember when I worked for AT&T Microelectronics years ago, I utilized a Day-Runner calendar and time management system. It was a paper system, but it worked, only now I would prefer something electronic. My Palm Zire 31 (older model without telephone) is great for contact and calendaring functions, but I haven't utilized the tasks portion of the device. I'm going to give it a try.

What's out there for time management solutions, and what works well? Your ideas and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

* Photo courtesy of bigfoto.com.

I read the blog Rants & Ramblings by Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent. She posted a great article on time management. Her article is not about the tools to use for time management, but rather the importance of continually prioritizing. Enjoy!


Vic DiGital said...

How would you describe your time management habits? Do you religiously check a calendar or dayplanner, or do you need to have those reminders sent to you, or pop up?

I use a combination of paper and web-based stuff. There is a cool Firefox add-on for Gmail called Deadline that allows you to easily create alerts and reminders for things you have coming up.

I also ascribe to the GTD method of productivity. GTD is "Getting Things Done" (by David Allen) and the main tenet of it is to not let stuff accumulate in your head. As long as it's in your head, it's going to be constantly cycling in your subconscious until you do something about it. So whenever anything comes up, take care of it immediately. If it's something that can be completed in two minutes or less, do it right then. If it will take longer, then put it on your next things to do list. For everything, just create a NEXT ACTIONS (for that event or item) list so that your brain can relax knowing you've addressed it. The other half of it is to CAPTURE whatever is in your head (ideas, books you want to read, websites you heard about, etc) on to something just so long as you get it out of your head. And it can be anything, paper, voicemail to yourself, email to yourself, task list manager.

One program I use for ALL of this (almost) is Evernote. (www.evernote.com). It's very similar to OneNote and Google Notebook (which has been discontinued), but more robust than either one. It's free and it is ubiquitous. You can put a desktop application on any computer you might be using (home/work/laptop), and it also has a web version that you can access from any computer, and it has a mobile version you can use from any web-enabled phone. And they all sync up so if you change something on one, all are updated.

There is also a clip-to-evernote web applet that allows you to save any webpage you're on to your evernote notebook and to create an endless number of notebooks.

But I use Evernote to house any and all info I might need access to. I even have a Daily Planner/life journal that I record everything I do to, and put upcoming events into (I like Evernote for this because I can not only include the time and date of something, but web pages, maps, etc of anything associated with that event).

Evernote really has way more than I've scratched the surface on here. It's an amazing program.

So Evernote, combined with Gmail/GCalendar is how I roll. They both take a bit of diligence and work, but offer a more thorough workflow.

Gmail also has some Firefox add-ons that help out with this. If you go to the gmail labs features (click the little green bottle icon) you'll see options for adding Tasks and Calendar to your gmail page and there is various integration between them.

There are also some external add-ons. GTD Inbox, and Remember the Milk.

Finally, I always carry a wad of index cards and a pen with me anywhere I go so I can have an analog capability of recording info that I can transcribe later.

Sheryl Tuttle said...

Victor - thanks. I am especially interested in trying Evernote. Do you suppose you could do an overview at one of the HFC meetings? I've created an account but am pretty clueless as far as how to use the tool. Thanks!