Productivity Tools

I am always very interested in tools and ideas that can help me to be more productive and effective. It’s not that I’m not usually productive and effective. It’s that I usually have a lot of plates spinning in my life. I need to keep them all organized. I need to make sure I don’t forget stuff. I need to keep things from falling through the cracks.

And so I pay attention to leadership and management techniques. I try out different organizational methods. I set and reset and rereset goals. I make a lot of to do lists. And every once in a while I stumble across things that really help.

Recently, I’ve begun incorporating some new organizational and productivity tools into my routine. I thought I would share them with you.  

 

mac-os-x-mountain-lion-reminders1Reminders – Normally, I have one giant to do list of everything that I need to do. I try to keep this list so that I don’t forget anything. If I think of it, it goes on the list. I’ve blogged before about how in addition to this, I will often make a list of what I have to do today that will enable me to sleep well tonight. This system has worked well for me – except, I spend more time than I really want to writing and re-writing these lists. The page gets too full or too sloppy. I’ve got to transcribe it all. Until now.

I’ve started using Reminders, an app on my MacBook that syncs with my iPad and iPhone. Reminders lets me create multiple to do lists. So, instead of one big list, I’ve got several big lists broken into categories, keeping track of everything I can think of that I need to do. My lists include categories such as Work, Home, Vintage, Fundamorphosis, and the Blog. But I also have a Today list. The best thing about Reminders is that I can start each day by simply dragging items from my different lists into the Today list. It lets me easily manage a doable Today list from the monster lists of everything I don’t want to forget. Everything gets remembered. Everything gets organized. Everything gets done.

 

04-09-09E.ggtimer.com – When it comes to getting stuff done, I’ve started using e.ggtimer.com. Each day, when I drag items to my Today to do list, I add a note about how long I think it will take me to get that thing done. 5 minutes. 20 minutes. 2 hours. When it’s time to tackle that project, I go to e.ggtimer.com and enter the time. And then I race myself to see if I can get it done in time. (Right now there are 34 minutes and 13 seconds on the clock for this blog post to be written and posted.) I do my best work when I have deadlines. They keep me from getting distracted and wasting time. E.ggtimer.com lets me create my own deadlines. In fact, I don’t even have to go to e.ggtimer.com, I can just type e.ggtimer.com/5minutes or e.ggtimer.com/1hour into my browser bar … and away we go.

 

evernote_twitter_profile2Evernote – I realize that I am late to this party. But I have started using Evernote as an app on my Mac, iPad, and iPhone. I’ve got it set up with notebooks for all of the different things going on in my life. I have the web clipper extension installed in Chrome so that I can save webpages and articles that I want to read or reflect on later. I’ve got it synced with my calendar so that when I want to take notes in a meeting, it knows what I’m doing. Evernote has moved out of obscurity and into my dock. And I can’t imagine it going back any time soon.

 

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Email – I’m trying to only check my email a few times a day. This may be the hardest change I’ve been trying to make! I’m used to refreshing my email over and over. My work mail has always been open. My gmail tab has always been open. Email distracts me from other things I need and want to get done. So … I’m working on checking my email only a couple of times a day, but also emptying my inbox when I do. I set myself time on e.ggtimer.com and then get it all handled.

 

In addition to all of this, I’ve been thinking a lot about a video I saw of Bill Hybels talking about his 6×6 method of leadership. I’m intrigued. I also follow Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt daily. They inspire me.

 

And … I’m seriously considering hiring a virtual assistant. I’ve read a lot about people who have been able to outsource a lot of mundane but necessary tasks so that they can be more free to focus on what they have to do and want to do. I feel this pressure. I think I’ve got a number of projects, especially related to my book and personal life, that could easily be done by someone else. But I’m not quite sure where to start or what to expect. I’ve got a phone call tomorrow with a virtual assistant company to get more information. My guess is that it will be way out of my price range. But … you never know.

 

These are some of the things I’m doing to be more productive and effective, organized and efficient. How about you? Any tricks or apps or experiences you’d like to share with all of us?

 

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  • Good stuff! If you pull the trigger on the virtual assistant, I’d would love to hear how it goes. How to manage a VA in your email seems like a subject unto itself. – Reilly