In addition to offering a wealth of information, the internet also provides us with a ton of tools. Are you taking full advantage of them? For example, how well do you manage your life? Are you well organized, do you easily remember birthdays, deadlines and appointments?
Should you struggle with these tasks, don’t worry, most of us are. Fortunately, you are free to change things and make your life a little easier. Here is what you can do to organize your life and reduce the amount of things you have to remember:
The first and most difficult task is to adopt a couple of key habits. This is crucial since no tool will ever help you if you don’t communicate with it. Whether you’re using a file-o-fax or an online calendar system, none of these tools were built to read your mind.
1. Write everything down – immediately!
If you’re lucky, you already own a portable device that will synchronize with your computer. If not, get used to carrying pen and paper.
2. Integrate the tools into your daily routine.
Both checking and updating them needs to become a routine task. The good thing is you get to choose when and how often you’ll communicate with your tools! ;) And you don’t have to use them all at once. It all depends what works best for you. Just start – now!
3. Hang in there!
This is a pretty universal habit. In the context at hand it means the following:
give the tools time to work, invest some time and effort to make them work for you
resist your inner temptation to slack off
develop a genuine interest in the tools you are using, learn about them, improve your usage of them or find out about different tools that may work better for you
If you are able to get into the routine described above, you will soon have a lot of free time to fill. However, I have to warn you: relying on any of the following tools means you will depend on technology like never before.
With Evernote you can collect, sync, search, archive, and share information. The main interface is a website. The desktop client is available for Mac and Windows, further clients support the iPhone, the iPod Touch, Windows Mobile devices, and there is a bookmarklet for your browser.
One of the coolest features is Evernote’s ability to search for words inside of pictures. This makes it a very valuable tool for efficient archiving. On top of that it offers a free option and it’s independent of Google – so far.
Back in April Shankar wrote a thorough review of Evernote.
If you are the type of person who works best with visual reminders, I recommend Stickies. It works a little like Post-It® notes, but stickies sit on your PC desktop.
Stickies can be fully customized and they can adopt many functions other than holding notes. For example, they may be attached to a website or document, so they will only show in connection with these; network support allows for transfer of notes between machines, for example between computers within a TCP/IP network; and alarms may be set for each note.
I should mention that 3M, the creator of the original Post-It® notes, offers a similar desktop application, however the free version is very limited!
Sandy is an assistant that you communicate with by eMail. No software, easy to access and easy to program. Sandy relies on keywords in your eMail to her. When you CC someone in your eMail to Sandy, she will get in touch with them for the specific tasks contained in that eMail. Sandy promises she will synchronize with your calendar. At this point she supports Google Calendar. If you like, you can also chat with Sandy through Twitter.
Earlier this year Mark wrote a review about I Want Sandy. For him she didn’t work with Google Calendar, but it looks like the plugin was updated and it worked fine for me.
4. Google Calendar
I already mentioned it in connection with Sandy. As a calendar it does a great job, but I found that it works much better for me when I can access it from my desktop. If you’re already using Thunderbird, see how you can integrate Google Calendar into Thunderbird.
5. Google Mail
While we’re talking about Google, Google Mail can not be missed. Great tool to archive and search mail or documents. If you are actually using the web interface of GMail you should find out about all the plugins and tools that are available for it. If you’re using Firefox, you can integrate Google Calendar with GMail.
6. Remember The Milk
Remember The Milk is a very efficient task manager. First of all it is compatible with a wide range of applications and devices, including Google Calendar, GMail, Twitter, Blackberry and the iPhone or iPod touch. It can send reminders to your eMail, your mobile phone, and many different instant messengers. While for example I Want Sandy is very basic, Remember The Milk offers some great extra features. Create lists or task clouds; integrate maps to make tasks that require you to leave the house more efficient; publish your tasks and lists, share them with your contacts or send out reminders.
It goes without saying that there are only two essential tools you need: a calendar and a reminder tool in case the calendar’s reminders aren’t sufficient. I would also recommend a good archiving system.
My personal combination is Google Calendar with Thunderbird because I do not need to rely on mobile devices and usually have instant access to my laptop.
Which ones do you choose and how are you combining them? Tell us in the comments.