On Organizing Life

The crack in your armor can make you stronger.

A number of people have wondered how someone can stay so organized and can find answers to questions so quickly.  Others have wondered how it is possible to excel in a detail-oriented profession when you are not detail-oriented.

The answer is embarrassing.  I have an awful memory and it requires an external brain for both looking backward (the fact repository) and looking forward (project and task management).

I love the feel of pen on paper and use those tools to capture my day.  A working document in the repository is created for meeting notes, for research, for processes and procedures, and for anything else of consequence. The entire repository can be searched and if it’s not there, it never happened.

The choice of a repository is a difficult one.  As a Lansa developer, I use a Windows machine even though at home I use a Mac.  This splits my world in half.  As much as I want to like cross-platform tools like Evernote, I end up loathing them and wishing for a native solution.

The best tool I have ever found for brain storage is Microsoft OneNote.  Although I am usually not a fan of most Microsoft products, OneNote rocks!  In fact, I wish it were available on the Macintosh.  It is simple, it scales well, and search just works.  Every great developer I know is dedicated to removing friction and repetition from their workflow.  OneNote removes repository friction. It has the looking backward piece covered. But if it is great for notes it is awful for tasks.

For task management at work, I have used good solutions but never a great solution. Spreadsheets don’t scale well, Outlook tasks are too limiting, and OneNote tags are frustrating to manage.  At home, I use the most excellent OmniFocus application but the only way to use it at work was on my iPhone which just didn’t cut it.  I need my task manager constantly in my face.

This past weekend the skies parted and the sun came out!  For my birthday, my wife gifted me an iPad 2.  Thank you, my dear!  There is a version of OmniFocus made specifically for this device and I am jumping up and down in anticipation of conquering task management at work.

We will see how much patience is required to wait four to five weeks for the iPad to arrive.  We’ve taught our four kids the importance of delayed gratification.  I guess it is now time for an object lesson.

Posted on March 22, 2011, in Life. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on On Organizing Life.

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