Thursday, September 08, 2016

Attempting to Stay Organized - My Strategy

We live in a complicated, busy world. Our lives have appointments, deadlines, tasks to be accomplished, and so on. As Christian men, we have not only the normal routines of a busy life, we have the privilege and responsibility of living lives that are disciplined in the spiritual realm of things. We have to make good use of the opportunities for daily prayer, Bible reading, meditation and study. It's not always easy to keep track of everything and to fit everything in.

We are all different and so the techniques one person uses to organize his life may be quite a bit different from what another person finds helpful. I thought I would take a few minutes and share some tools I use to keep my life as organized as possible. These tools involve the use of technology so if you're doing just fine with paper lists and a paper calendar, that's great. You may not find what I'm about to share helpful. But on the other hand, if you are a technology user with a computer, smartphone or tablet, maybe some of this will give you ideas you can work with.

I have an iPad mini, an android phone and a computer that need to stay in sync in whatever I do, so here's my approach.

To-Do List  For my to-do list, I use the website Toodledo. There is a free version, but I've chosen the paid version that allows me to have sub-tasks. There is a Toodledo app for the iPad and/or the iPhone and it works very well along with the Toodledo website. I found an app for my android called DGT GTD. It has a sync function with Toodledo and to tell you the truth, I like this app better than the Toodledo app and it works very well for me on the phone.

These tools allow me to enter a task, create a due date and time, assign a priority and create a context as well as some additional features. For the context I can assign categories such as "church", "home", "outside projects", "home repairs", etc. There's also a repeat function that allows for a task to show up each week or each month. With the paid version I can create a project with a due date and then create all of the subtasks that need to be accomplished to complete the project.

All of this synchronizes among all three devices so that I have my upcoming tasks available no matter which device I am working with at the time. In addition, on my computer, the task list is synchronized with Outlook so that when I have my Outlook page open, the tasks show up in a window at the side of my screen. On any of the devices I can mark the task as completed and everything synchronizes accordingly. I've finally done away with my paper lists! In order to keep Outlook in sync with everything else I found an app called gSyncit. This pulls my data in from Google and Toodledo and synchronizes in both directions.

Calendar For my calendar I use Outlook on my computer, the Apple calendar on the iPad and Google calendar on the phone.  All three of these synchronize with each other and so I have all of my calendars available on any of my devices.

Notes: I don't know if any of you have ever worked with Evernote, but I have come to really appreciate this app. It too is available on all my devices. Evernote is a way of keeping track of pieces of information that tend to get lost in the shuffle of the electronic life. In Evernote you can create notebooks for yourself. Items in the notebooks can be tagged with categories to help you find things easily.

If I'm on a website that has some information that I want to keep track of, I simply click the Evernote icon on the web page or if I'm on mobile, I can choose to share the page with Evernote. I can clip either the URL or the entire article and save it to a particular notebook in my Evernote account. If I receive an email I want to keep track of, I can forward it to Evernote and provide the notebook name and tag(s) on the subject line. The next time I open Evernote, that email is right where it is supposed to be and I can find it later by searching the topic or tag. When someone sends me a link they think I'd be interested in, I simply copy that link as a note with the appropriate tag and it's there when I need it.

I've used this for making small lists such as part numbers for some appliance, clipping web articles I wanted to keep track of, storing emails with important links in them, etc. If I think of something while I'm working, I can open an email and send a quick note to myself with the appropriate subject line and the message becomes a note in the appropriate notebook. This is a very big help for those of us who are inundated with electronic communications.

Hopefully there have been some topics here that have been helpful in some way. As Christian men, we need to use our time wisely and these tools have helped me do that in a more faithful way.

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