Alas, for the eighties kids this is not a post about Krang. I kind of wish it was, but I am not sure if I am in the mood to do a full post about him. I think he is a him.
Anyway, every once in a while I post what my current tool rollout is in case it might be useful to other people.
I’ve always had trouble being organized and my whole time management strategy changed when I realized that I needed to find tools that worked the way my brain worked instead trying to get myself to fit the tools or management strategy. So as of right now this what I use on a daily basis.
Love ’em or hate ’em they have been a serious boost to my personal productivity. I have been a Gmail user for nine years which allows be to create labels and filters to organize everything, As of the beginning of 2013 I had about 60,000 emails in my inbox. Now I have much less, but more on that in a minute. I only boot up Microsoft Office once or twice a year now because all of the tools in Google Docs meet my needs perfectly. Google Voice intercepts my voicemail transcribes it (imperfectly, but enough to understand it) and sends me an email. Google Calendar makes it easy to set up appointment and sends me a text message, an email and a pop up notification when I need to do something. Google Hangouts really has been an excellent communication system with chat, voice over IP and video conferencing.
Without Google Android would have made less sense and I could have gone with any phone including Apple. What Android does is integrate the Google services perfectly. As far as I am concerned it doesn’t really matter if I am sitting at one of my computers or in front of my smart phone the information stream is synced and consistent.
Back to Gmail for a sec. 60,000 emails while impressive is almost impossible to manage. I had basically given up hope of dealing with it and was going to just let that inbox grow to infinity until Mailstrom came along. The service allows you to bulk manage your email very quickly. It took me a couple of hours to reduce that 60k backlog to 0 emails but after that it takes about five minutes a week to consistently bring back my inbox to 0. Nice tool.
Email addresses, snippets of text, serial numbers for my appliances, warranty information, billing addresses, pictures of house wiring and diagrams for my projects. Evernote stores it all easily and I am able to see it on my phone or home computer whenever I need it. It is like having a second brain.
The one thing Evernote doesn’t do particularly well is ToDo lists. It is the only thing Wunderlist does and it is very good at it. If I am working on a long project, grocery shopping or at the hardware store the list of what I need to purchase or do is right there in front of me.
It is not so much Focus Booster specifically as it is the technique. Focus Booster is a really easy way to get started with Pomodoro timers. The timers are a dead simple way to be productive. Basically you work for 25 minutes straight with no distractions, take a five minute break then start the 25 minute timer again. Usually at the fourth break you make it a bit longer, say 15 minutes and then start the cycle again. You can use an app, or a stopwatch, but it is an easy way to track your time and keep you focused.
That’s it. The best tools are easy to use and very simple. The benefits should far outweigh any pain in learning the tool or technique. I hope you find something useful.