getting organized

Image by goddess_spiral, used with permission

I recently bought a iPhone. It was a bit unnerving to sign a three year contract with a cell phone provider. Three years is an awfully long time commitment. It’s definitely longer than most of my romantic relationships. Having the internet in my pocket or bag has changed how I keep track of appointments, but it hasn’t really altered how I manage my task lists.


About a month ago I gave up my paper organizer. Picking out the perfect one-day-per-page organizer is a yearly ritual. There’s something about hand writing appointments, meetings and other important things, in my little pink (this year’s colour) book that cements things in my mind. I also like flipping the pages and ripping off the perforated corners of each day as it passes. I find this immensely satisfying.

I’m now using Google calendar for work and home. I have 5 calendars: work (where I track shifts that are not 9-5), meetings, events, life, and bills. I’ve imported Canadian holidays. This is working really well. I’ve shared events and life calendar’s with my partner, which has made finding times that we’re both free a little bit easier.

To do lists

I’ve dabbled with various ways of keeping and managing task lists, but I always come back to a written to do list. There’s something about the physical act of writing things that I need to do that helps me remember what I need to get done. I also find it satisfying to draw little boxes andA   checking off items that are done.

I have two separate lists: a daily list, and a more long term list of things I need to accomplish over the next 4-6 months.

I’ve tried other electronic ways of managing a task list, like Remember the Milk and Outlook.A   Neither really worked for me. I felt like I was spending more time entering tasks and found I really missed drawing little boxes and check marks. Right now this hybrid way of keeping my schedule online, and keeping my to do lists on paper is working for me.

How some other people do things

When I was transferring my life to Google calendar I started asking friends and people I work with how they keep on top of things. Many couples said they share Google calendars so they know when/where the other one is working, or when upcoming events and parties are. At work some departments seem to use Google calendar to schedule meetings. Right now collectively we aren’t using this in the library.

I was pretty stunned to learn from a few people that they don’t keep task lists at all. One person said they often feel stressed out and overwhelmed. I’m not sure if the lack of to do list contributes to this stress, but for me, I can’t imagine how it wouldn’t. A coworker whose work involves a lot of routine tasks keeps track of the non-routine things by using Post it notes on his monitor.

Do you have any wisdom to share about keeping your schedule and tasks organized?

2 thoughts on “getting organized”

  1. This is something I’ve been working on for a couple years now: figuring out my tasks and productivity workflow.

    Today, I have my bugtracker for web development, use iCal & Google Calendar (though I need to figure out a better way to synchronize those with my iPhone than what I’m doing currently; iCal doesn’t care much for being a front-end to Google Calendar) and take a lot of notes.

    I’ve tried a number of other solutions, both for note-taking, like Evernote, docs syncing like QuickOffice on my phone to access Google Docs and my DropBox server, and things like Remember the Milk, OmniFocus, and Things.

    Right now, my favourite app combo is Notational Velocity on my Mac and Simplenote on my iPhone. When I’m out, I can jot down a note and have it automatically appear in the same format on my computer, no matter where I am. Because it’s just a search box and a bunch of text files, it’s both very flexible and very straightforward.

    The downside is obviously that it’s never going to be the all-in-one solution I want. Really though, I’ve found the most important thing is just coming up with a procedure and then sticking to it, making changes as necessary–and they will be.

  2. Thanks Ms. Winters. I’ll check out Simplenote. My life would be a bit different if I could sync my phone to my computer (I can sync it to my girlfriend’s but that gets messy quickly). All the Mac stuff seems to just work together. Perhaps the iPhone will be the gateway drug to me buying a Mac.

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