Productivity System

Just wanted to blog some major points about my personal productivity system in under 5 minutes before I start work. Note: you may see GTD-like terms but my system is not really strict GTD, I have just borrowed some good ideas:

  • For a PDA, I use a Timex Datalink USB watch and some software I wrote to convert my Google calendar to appointments I can load into the watch. It is mostly "read only" during the day but works fine for me. I can see my schedule and contacts; I can get reminders and alarms; and if I don't have paper and pen on me I can take notes (text entry is really not that bad on it for small notes).

  • Ubiquitous capture: I normally carry some 3x5, unlined index cards around in a snack-size ziploc (just fits) and also carry a pen (both in my pants pocket normally). At the end of the day or week or whatever I "process" them. I will often keep grocery lists, important todo checklists, etc. on there as well and occasionally will leave them on my computer desk or laptop keyboard as a reminders.

  • I use a coil bound Blue Line for meeting note capture and a scratch pad. I normally transfer everything on the page that is required into an email to myself or some type of document for later use and cross off items so transferred so I know I have them captured elsewhere. For scratch pad notes (e.g. phone numbers, etc) I do the same or just turn the page and start fresh when a page is full or I need to go to a meeting.

  • Calendar: I use Google calendar all the time and download Ical backups as part of my watch calendar updating software (see above). I normally set email reminders for important meetings and get an agenda in my inbox as well.

  • Inbox on desk: I normally work at home so I have a separate inbox for home and work. This is basically a cheap, dollar store, tiered system consisting of three levels. Level 1 (top) - my personal inbox for all bills, notes, documents, etc. Level 2 - Personal "hot file" area. I keep any ongoing stuff (e.g. quotes for work around the house) in files here as well as dropping in processed documents that need to be filed... I normally file as soon as something is done but late at night the file drawer makes one of our dogs yap (no idea why) so I tend to to throw things into the Level 2 tray and file en masse. Level 3 - "hot file" for work... I keep a client file I am using in there with the current document (a report, standards doc, todo list) binder clipped to the front of the file.

  • Long term file storage for all files is done in filing cabinet, one for work and one for personal. I currently don't have a work filing cabinet as I am using some file dossiers but need a filing cabinet soon. I just don't generate much paper for work as I am a software developer and prefer to work on the screen when I can.

  • Finally, I use TODO List ( to manage client info, long term todo lists, packing lists (e.g. for trips), and so forth. Everything yuou can imagine goes into this system. I am gradually trying to get to the point where I use it for everything but have some issues around printing off info from it and so on.

That's about it. One day I will look back on this and laugh just as you are laughing (mockingly) now. :)


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