Technology Follows Technique

In this article I want to briefly share my process for tracking the various emails, action items, and requests that come to my attention. Spoiler Alert: I’ve never been a fan of lifehacks or productivity tricks. I do, however, believe in organization and routine.

Technology Follows Technique.

There are two kinds of people:

  1. People that make numbered lists
  2. People who don’t.

If you’re not accustomed to writing things down, tracking your to-do items or sorting your thoughts, you’re probably going to have a hard time finding a to-do software that you like. Technology won’t solve your organization problem if you don’t have the technique & discipline already in place.

I first learned to organize my brain on paper, with a simple black Moleskine notebook. Each day, I wrote my action items on the left side of the page. On the right side, I took notes throughout the day. The discipline of grouping my thoughts into different headers and reviewing them every day was incredibly helpful to me. I knew that as long as I wrote something down, I could find it later and make sure it got done.

After filling an entire notebook with nearly a year of notes, I decided to swap paper for pixels. Now, I have access to everything from my phone or computer, wherever I go.

The backbone of my system is Inbox by Gmail. Inbox is a Gmail replacement that’s based around the concept of Inbox Zero, meaning that I only keep an email in my main inbox if I need to respond or if it has some action item. There is also a feature to snooze a thread to another time or place, allowing me to focus only on “here and now” emails.

The other piece of software that I rely on is Todoist; an online to-do list with a deceptively simple interface. It’s this interface that makes Todoist so powerful. At a glance, I can see a no-nonsense list of items sorted by date, priority, project, etc. There’s no visual clutter and it comes with a robust tagging and sorting system.

Armed with these tools, nothing escapes me! Incoming emails stay in my inbox until I’ve dealt with them, and any other incoming action items are added to Todoist, where I can safely organize and prioritize my brain.

David Allen has an excellent framework for organization called “Getting Things Done.” It’s so simple that it can be universally applicable to everything that comes across my desk. Learn more here: http://gettingthingsdone.com/fivesteps/

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