Some days I think I single-handedly keep 3M in business.
I’m one of those list-making people. I make lists for EVERYTHING. I have them EVERYWHERE. In my bag, on the kitchen table, on the refrigerator, on the front door. On my desk, the coffee table and on my nightstand. There’s probably not a flat surface that doesn’t have some form of paper on it at the ready, to write down something I need to remember. (Now if I could only find a pen…)
The list-making itself isn’t so much of a problem for me. It’s actually a necessity. As a single parent trying to keep track of play dates, school events, work responsibilities, shopping needs, bills and home repairs I find myself severely lacking in adequate brain cells to remember it all. If it doesn’t get written down it just doesn’t get done.
My problem is keeping track of all the notes.
For instance, let’s look at the grocery shopping list. It usually resides on my refrigerator, and every time I notice something is running low I write it on the list. Easy, right? Well here’s where it gets complicated. While I’m at work I remember something else that needs to be on the list. So I write it on a post-it note and stick it in my bag, with all the best intentions of transferring it to the “master list” when I get home. Unfortunately there’s no note to remind me to fish out the aforementioned grocery addendum, so I will completely forget about it for about a month until I inadvertently pull it out along with a handful of old receipts that it’s now stuck to. The shopping list from the previous week is likely also wadded up in there, which still has one or two items the store was out of — that also need to go back on the master list for another day. Do you see my problem here?
Recently I’ve resorted to emailing myself at home and/or work to remind me to look at the notes I have stuffed in my bag, or with things to add to an existing list, or to find a list that I just remembered I misplaced somewhere, or to check one of the many calendars (work, home, school) because I just know there’s something I’m forgetting about. The other day it occurred to me that this was insane. There’s got to be a better way…
Enter my new digital assistants.
This weekend I put everything (EVERYTHING I tell ya!) into a Google Calendar. Everything gets its own color code, so it’s easier to tell which stuff is for me, my son, or my job. I can access the calendar from anywhere there’s an internet connection, so I can add and keep track of appointments more efficiently. And in the side bar I can even create a “task list” for things that I need to remember to do in the next couple of days, so every time I pull up the calendar they’re staring me in the face. As an added bonus of efficiency it will even email me a daily agenda every morning if I ask it real nicely. Sweet!
There’s also a sharing function where more than one person can have access to the calendar. I’m not using this feature myself, but I imagine it would be pretty handy with a larger family. Each person can add their bowling nights and soccer practices for everyone else to see and schedule around accordingly.
This is now the grand repository of all my crazy lists, in a somewhat sane and organized fashion. I can create individual notes and lists, and save them into categorized notebooks – things to do, blog post ideas, things I need to remember for work. Besides my own crazy lists I can also save and categorize photos, bits of webpages – just about anything. This can also be accessed from anywhere, so no more new notes to remind me to add things to existing notes. I just pull up my EverNote account and plop it in. I’m swelling with a sense of efficient pride!
And last but not least we have DropBox, my digital document shuttle and information holding pen. This is where I can upload things I may need someplace else at some point, negating the need to email myself documents, download them to a thumb drive that I will misplace, or print them out and forget to bring them with me. (Not that I’ve ever done those things of course. Much.) It’s a handy way to move documents from one computer to another when they aren’t linked in any other way.
DropBox also has a sharing function, where you can assign use rights to other users for specific folders. It’s a convenient way to swap project information with other people while still keeping everything in a central location.
So there you have it — my trio of apps that will hopefully keep me sane, productive and organized. Wish me luck!