Rebooting My Personal Productivity System

written by Matthew Acton on August 21, 2013 in Productivity with no comments

I’ve done a lot of thinking lately about what works for keeping me productive in the workplace.  All seems to be working quite well.  I started capturing all my notes and actions in one place, At the end of each day I process that days notes and the first thing in the morning I decide my 3 Most Important Tasks.  I have also looked at how to craft an ideal next action item.

To Do List

The next area of my life I need to tackle is my life away from work.  I am going to keep the same methodology as I do for work, but I need to look at the tools I use to capture, process and review.  I have created a shortlist of items for now, but I am still open to suggestions.

I discussed a bit about my requirements back at the beginning of this series.  In a nutshell, Either digital or analogue is ok, and I can rely on an internet connection at home, but not necessarily when I’m out and about.  I don’t want to have to rely on a computer, but I can rely on my Android phone or tablet.

List of tools:

Pen and Paper

Simple pen and paper list

The classic approach.  There is something very romantic about a nice pen* and a moleskine notebook*.  The feel of the nib as it draws across the paper.  And as it is permanent, you take care over what you are writing.

This is also the approach I take at work, so it is familiar.  As I make a subtle change to how I work with one system, I can carry that over to the other.

The downside is that it is something else to carry around at the weekend.

(web | Android | iOS  | Windows | Mac)

Wunderlist is both simplistic yet powerful at the same time.  It is a basic list app available for just about all platforms out there (certainly for the ones that I use).  I can have as many lists as I like.  Within each list, each list item can contain a further checklist (ideal for projects), notes, due date and a reminder.  You can also attach files to each item too.

Your list is stored in the cloud and then syncs to each device you use it in, so should I forget my phone, I can still access it from the web.

I’m not sure this will work at work though, due to IT filter policies and the rather old copy of Internet Explorer that we currently have installed.

You can also email tasks to wunderlist too, but only from the email account that is connected to your Wunderlist account.

I really like the simplistic nature of Wunderlist though.

Remember The Milk
(web | Android | iOS)

Remember The Milk

Remeber The Milk is a freemium app, with more control over your lists than Wunderlist.  In addition to the features that Wunderlist has, you can add tags, locations and more.  This could be useful if I decided to use GTD contexts such as @phone, @computer etc for my tasks.  As I have decided not to do that for now, then this is irrelevant.

I like the locations feature though.  This allows you to set a location to a task, for instance the drycleaners for your “pick up drycleaning” task.  Then, when you are near the drycleaners, the app will remind you.

You can also sync with your MS Outlook tasks.  However, you have to pay for premium membership for this.

(web | iOS)

Toodle.Do Preview

For even more customisation, there is Toodle.Do.  I used this service once before and for the ultimate in control over your list, then this is it!  You can assign priority, folder, context, due date, start date, status and more.  What is good, though, is that you don’t have to use these features and you can turn them off completely.  You can also filter on each column and

Apps are available for both Android (albeit third party) and iOS, as well as the web interface.

What I didn’t like about this, the first time round, was the complexity.  Its great being able to control all these features, but it just gets a bit overwhelming.  With great power, comes great responsibility and all that!

Any More?

Right now, I think I’m leaning towards Wunderlist for its simplistic approach.  The simplistic task management approach is really appealing to me right now as I don’t want tos pend my time managing my todo list, I want to spend the time clearing items off it.

However, I’m not going to make any final decisions just yet.  Are there any other suggestions that anybody has for me to look at?  If there are, I will update the post.