Stress I briefly mentioned my todo system the other day and I said I’d go into more detail later and here I am, detailing. I first found out about ‘the secret weapon‘ from one of tofugu’s guides on organising japanese studies with evernote. I clicked through to see what I thought was one of those, watch this video then pay $59.99 to see the rest sites. You know the ones with the massive long list of ‘true testimonies’ and cheesy pictures of the creators. Well that this isn’t. Its 100% free all the videos are there on the homepage and theres a (fairly) active community of people on the forums posting ideas and asking questions about how to fit the system in with their lifestyle.

Before I watched the first video I used my gmail account to sort out my todo’s outside of work by simply marking something as unread and dealing with it when the little badge notifications got too mucha and I could have an empty inbox again!

My work system was a horrible series of outlook to follow up’s to manage my work tasks. There was no way to organise things by projects. I’ve categorised my work emails into 60 different folders one for each project, some are subdivided – I can always find an email but I can never work out what I’ve got to do on each project without going though a whole list of email trails and opening them all and then you have the whole issue of dealing with multiple windows being open on windows (no expose!) so its hard to keep track and the whole thing was ridiculous!

Bring on tsw! The intro video was exactly my organisational system! It was like watching my weekday morning on a youtube video! (only with less project folders!)

The basic idea of tsw is this: You shouldn’t be relying on multiple inboxes to manage your life. You should know what you have to do on each task, who is related to it, when it should happen and whether its at home or at work (or other). All of this information should be in one place.

Work email arrives or I think of a task, I add it to evernote, it gets tagged with who, what, where and when. If its not completed it stays in the notebook. With two clicks I can highlight the @work tag and the 6-waiting tag and I can see exactly what I’m waiting for at work! Genius! (I can also see who i’m waiting for too ;) )

The other good thing about it is you can breakdown tasks as much or as little as you like. Say I’m starting a new local project. First I have to setup a development environment then I can start coding. I would create two todos, ‘create virtual host for new site’ and assign the tag, 1-now. I would then make another note ‘export from svn’ and assign the tag 2-next, because I can’t do the second one until the first is complete.

The reason I rave about it so much is that I dont ever have to think about doing anything ever. Its like a great weight has been taken off my brain. All I have to do is add an item to the Action Pending notebook and check in every now and then to assign/update tags.

I’ve made some additions to my list. When I was adding tasks initially there were some that were realistic and some that really weren’t. I didn’t want to exclude them so I made the  Coding Exercises and Activities notebooks.

Coding exercises contains ideas for projects I’ve had or have found on the internet. I also add tutorials to this list. They’re not things I will do, they’re things I might do if I’m in the to do some programming in my free time.

The same thing goes for the Activities notebook. I like to think of it as a modern ‘holiday crafts for kids’ books I used to have. I’d get them out every single school holiday and make paper angels and jelly fishbowls and paper mache balloons, much to my mothers annoyance. I dont just have craft ideas in this notebook, I have places I’d like to visit, tagged ‘Places to visit’. I also have pretty much ALL of gala darlings 100 things to do instead of procrastinating on the internet article in there. Each one a separate note. It didn’t take me long to add them, just highlight and clip, highlight and clip and dont get me started on how epic the clearly plugin is for recipes!

I like having these two extra notebooks. I feel less stressed knowing they’re in my sights but not on my immediate todo list.


Photo by The Colby Files’ (flickr)