We finished last week with the question of how it all comes together.
The hardest part, I guess, is to get started. I assume you must read this blog for a reason and one reason might just be that you are generally interested in personal development. Having read a lot of personal development books, articles, newsletters and have had discussions with coaches, trainers and gurus in the field, let me tell you that the underlying theories of all productivity techniques are the same!
No one really invented the wheel new, it is only how you present the idea, in which context and how applicable it is to your lifestyle. It is all about different applications of the same principles.
Sounds basic but if you get the underlying principles and build your own system, you can forget about all the latest guru books. You become the guru. You will be in the driving seat.
I also believe that by having a strong mentor and coach, and this could be your spouse, someone who you can reflect your own opinion on, an industry friend to benchmark your knowledge and understanding, already helps to keep you sane in the first place when going on a personal development journey.
Let’s have a look at some basic ideas which I have used for many years prior to reading it in GTD:
– Have a notebook next to your bed so if you cannot sleep you can write down all the ideas that come to your mind. Today this is my phone.
– Nowadays have a good phone app for either voice recording (also useful when driving) or note taking (Evernote (http://www.evernote.com, also offers Penultimate) and Penultimate are recommended).
– Have a system you trust! What I use to keep it simple are different Notes on my iPhone rather than an application. Those notes have different titles like “to do in the house” or “shop in town” or “general to do” or “Sunday Column” where I keep my notes of what I want to write my blog about etc. You get the picture. The point is that it is a simple, cross device available system that allows for easy to do lists for different topics. Other systems I have used are RTM (Remember the Milk, http://www.rememberthemilk.com) which allows cross device and Outlook synchronisation. So it depends a little on your personal preferences. I personally try to keep my work and my life to do list separate and do not like to clutter my work system with personal stuff and vice versa.
If I find things interesting on the web and cannot read it directly I use a tool called Pocket (http://www.getpocket.com) as I find it easiest to use and read articles at a later stage. It also syncs nicely with Evernote.
My todo list of choice is 2do. I use it as a desktop, tablet and phone version to sync cross device.
I have been testing email clients like Cloudmagic and Mailbox, but seem to settle for the former. It depends on the functionality you are trying to have.
– Evernote really is probably the best system to date to keep all your web snippets, your personal pictures, your archive of the things you find on the web. With the pro version you get Penultimate which is a fantastic tool to replace paper note taking and backing it up digitally. With the new reminder function (2013) and their constant innovation on all sorts of features, it is hard to keep up on all of them. However, if you are looking for a secure, all round system, this is (at time of writing) probably the best out there with many tutorials available on YouTube (and my blog posts end of last year).
– The only problem with any system is to de-clutter it on a regular basis. Whilst a lot of people love the idea of having Gmail as a mail application over hotmail or Outlook (as the leading systems), the danger is that people never clear their inbox, answer to emails and search for emails rather than organising them in folders. The danger is to just dump everything and rely on the search function. Whilst this works to a certain extent, I believe the clearer the system is structured, Evernote or Gmail, the easier it is to find things in a context. On that note, I believe if you have more than 100 emails in your inbox, you do have a productivity problem. No one can work with that many emails in their inbox trying to stay on top of things. I have seen inboxes with 6,000 or more emails and whilst the person suggested she was on top of it I could have given you 10 examples per week of her ignoring my emails.
For mind mapping I enjoy using SimpleMind (http://www.simpleapps.eu/simplemind/) as again it syncs flawlessly across my Apple devices. It of course is available for other operating systems also.
You noticed I am relying on Mac, as I believe the operating system is a lot more intuitive and hence makes me more productive. It just works.
So is that helpful for you? Systems vary, tools vary depending on what you do most. The underlying principle is the same. Whilst today was more about tools and ideas how to be more productive, have a read and listen to podcasts, google gurus’ blogs or search for tutorials online…..there are endless resources to sieve through to find your right combination of tools.
The best match is the one that gets you there. Where? You know whether, only you know where you want to go.
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