Technology is great…but I sure do like pen and paper – as I mentioned to one of our readers who asked me what I use to keep track of things. For one thing, I remember things better when I write them down by hand; it’s as if my hand keeps memories of each of its motions and my mind is better able to recall these motions later as the words sink deeper in my brain. I must think of each item I write down before setting my pen to paper and so I make better decisions using this increasingly old-fashioned way. On a computer screen everything can be erased, so my brain doesn’t retain the words the same way – it’s all temporary and it all sits in shallower spots in my mind.
And so it is that I write down my tasks and to-do items on my small notebook, which I have with me at all times in addition to my light weight paper organizer. My boyfriend, who does graphic design for all things digital, gave me his old iPhone when he got a new one and he showed me the world of apps for everything productivity: timers, to do lists, calendars and a variety of other apps I could use to track, measure and schedule my time. At first I used the phone to play Angry Birds (and sometimes as an mp3 player), but eventually I gave in to my boyfriend’s pleas to take advantage of the features of the wonderful invention that would make my life so much easier – and my purse so much lighter. I put aside my flip phone, my boxy mp3 player and my paper aids, and switched to the iPhone.
I brought back the small notebook and pen after dealing with the tiny letter buttons involved with using the Notes app (and for any typing in the iPhone), which did come in handy when I ran out of ink I must confess. The notifications and reminders don’t always work so instead of missing more appointments I brought back my 2-buck paper organizer. I lost contacts in the process of syncing, which for me overall a nightmare, and using all these time-enhacing features made the phone run out of battery faster than an obese asthmatic runs out of air up 8 flights of stairs. So I stuck to paper and pen.
At some point I tried Gmail Tasks, which I thought was the coolest task “thingy” ever! I could add emails to my task list, which really uncluttered my inbox but to get to my task list I had to go to Gmail and – hey, look! My friends sent me a couple of messages, let me just read a little. Two hours later my tasks were still unfinished and I was on Gtalk discussing authentic French croissants. If I were out eating said croissants I had no access to my tasks either since they were online and so quickly I was off Gmail tasks and back to paper and pen.
But for my long term goals I surely wanted something more high-tech and precise. I started with 43things.com, where I can write the things I want to do and make entries as to how I’m accomplishing them. I can also see how other people who are or have done the same things have done them, which is pretty cool, though it becomes time consuming. Sharing my goals with others made me feel a little more responsible for accomplishing them but it just wasn’t as organized as my sheet of paper behind my door. I needed some charts, some lines criss-crossing my page or something and so I tried a mind-map. The tutorial made the mind-map look awesome and I was good for several days at growing my map, putting together lines, drawings, arrows and all sorts of things. But just to get to my map I had to turn on my computer and sometimes my thoughts would have passed by the time I was ready to start mapping so I went back to a sheet of paper behind my door. It’s always there when I want to write something down or just have a look at how things are going with my plans.
Timing my tasks and activities is something I have no problem doing electronically since I accomplish many of my tasks – like writing – on the computer. I tried a few different software till I settled on Klok, a free program by Rob McKeown from mcgraphix. There are a few things that could be improved but overall it does what I need it to do and that’s fine. Sometimes I forget Klok though but I’m getting much better at remembering both to open it and to start its timer since I started adding these tasks to the list in my small notebook.
Please comment to let us know what you use for keeping track of your long and short term goals as well as your daily tasks!
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