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Tools of the Trade: Digital Organization

A couple of weeks ago, I ran through a few of my in-print organizational resources. Moving on from there, I thought I’d share the three main tools I use for keeping up with items digitally. These flow together—I set aside a spot to sync up print and digital once a week, which takes the real organization tool: discipline. Without that, none of the rest of this matters!

1. Nozbe: after meandering around for the past several years, I’m back to Nozbe as my task/project outline software. First, I use a project management software because it provides a different way to organize tasks and events—I can see them by responsibility while they still all end up on the same calendar. I can enter them the same way. Second, I like Nozbe because it will automatically pick up Evernote reminders and add them to the task list. The task list then links over to Google Calendar. In essence, Nozbe lets me aggregate tasks that way. And yes, many times I enter “events” as “tasks” just to populate the calendar. That does not mean family time is a burdensome “task.” Just that it needs doing!

Nozbe has two shortfalls for me. One can be solved by entering events onto Google Calendar instead. It’s the recurring task structure. For example, I have meetings the 2nd Monday of every month. Nozbe’s recurrence system can’t handle that—I can program it for every 4 weeks, which eventually breaks down (it has already this year)-or I can program every month. That gives me a task the same date, not the same day. Google Calendar handles it. 

The other is one that I have not resolved, and it’s the one thing that had me using Todoist for awhile. I have dependent tasks. As a pastor-teacher and writer, I have recurring dependent tasks. For example, the steps to a sermon. Each week, it’s translate the passage. Then correct and compare the translation. Then it’s outline and observe in the passage for meaning. Then it’s… (you get the point.) I’d like to be able to nest those tasks so that the process dynamically flows. That’s the other reason for a task manager: every day can be different and every week even worse. So, being able to have tasks show up and stay “on-top” of the list until done is helpful. I’d like to have this flow better for dependent tasks. Otherwise, Nozbe’s simplicity is beautiful.

2. Evernote: Google it. I first had Evernote when I got a Blackberry in 2008. Had no idea what to do with it. Now I don’t know what I will do without it. Almost everything goes into Evernote. Anything that doesn’t is mainly something that’s missing a plan to get it in there. I’m still hesitant to store crucial financial stuff in Evernote. Which is odd, since I store it in Quicken and my laments over that are growing daily.

Evernote lets you store and share information. It lets you set reminders on information. If you write book reviews, it’s a no-brainer for a way to keep up with what books you should be reviewing. And your notes on them. As a student, I can store all sorts of useful data. Evernote deserves its own post, but suffice it to say that it’s worth your time to learn and your money for Pro.

3. Google Calendar: everything on a calendar, which then makes it all shareable. Plus, GCal syncs across devices and platforms. The one thing it does not do, other than put stuff on itself for you, is put everything onto one calendar. I have my calendar and then there is my Nozbe generated calendar. In the coming year, we’re going to generate an East End Baptist Church Google Calendar. It will all display on one page, but that’s not the same as on “one calendar.”

Those are some of the technology tools I keep in the box. They help. Discipline, though, remains the key.

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