Monday, September 27, 2010

Reloading with Penzu

I used to write quite often back in the day with paper and pen--in cursive even. Then life happened. But because life happened, I'm finding myself in desperate need of writing...I stumbled upon Penzu last week and I haven't looked back. Actually, I stumbled upon at through Evernote's Trunk, and that led me to Penzu.

It's an online diary and personal journal that fits my techno-freak-geek love of digiworld. It's free, and for 20 bucks a year, I can upgrade to sweet enhancements including mobile journaling with my Blackberry (also through iPad, iPhone, or Android). Very clean, simple to use, and a very necessary part of life to unload to reload. Thanks a ton Alexander, Michael, Simon, and Alex..."If I didn't have puke breath, I'd kiss you, eh."

Evernote Gets Things Done

     Let me see if I can explain how I have applied Evernote to Getting Things Done. First of all, Evernote's mission is to remember everything. That is well and good, and according to GTD, those memories or things to remember are saved in a "Reference" notebook. I tag those files as work or personal, but I also tag them with tags specific to the item saved.
     GTD advocates NOT making a To Do List because they are too difficult to achieve. We are too inundated with life to expect to get our To Dos done. If it gets moved to the next day, it meets with things on a new To Do List. Thus, GTD advocates for a Next Actions file. The idea is to have a place to store our actions, and to maintain them. I have again tagged everything in the "Next Action" notebook in Evernote with one or more of the following tags recommended by GTD: Delegated, At Computer, At Home, At Office, At Work, Calls, Calls - Work, Errands, Read/Review, and I have three Agenda tags: one for my boss, one for my staff, and one for other. I keep track of items I need to discuss with these people with these tags in the "Next Action" notebook. 
     Also, I put a number, starting with "0", in front of each tag, so my tags are in an order I like. Thus, they are listed numerically rather than by Evernote's default which is alphabetically. Lastly, if I have initiated a project, say, with a phone call, but I must leave a message, that particular action can be moved to my next notebook, "Waiting On." 
     Thus, when I am in my office at my computer, I pull up everything tagged with At Computer, and I can begin to chip away at those Next Action items within the time limit I have set for myselt. I can then move on to phone calls. Again, I bring up everthing tagged with Calls - Work. I can do the same thing at home. If something is more pressing, I can go to that particular action item and knock it out first. The idea behind GTD is more about knowing what needs to be done and having a place to keep it.
     The Next Action items are generated from a projects list. When I have a project, I save it to the "Projects" notebook in Evernote. A project is too big to be listed in the Next Actions notebook because each project has a series of specific actions that must be accomplished to complete that project. These more specific actions are what are placed in the Next Actions notebook.
     Another GTD notebook I use is the "Someday/Maybe" notebook. Here I collect ideas I have for projects in the future or things I would like to accomplish. It may be for next year or for when I retire.
     The last GTD notebook is the "Tickler." This notebook is used for action items that must be done on a particular date. I have created 12 tags with each month of the year and 31 tags for each day of the month. I first used the tickler for things I would like to accomplish that day, but found it to be much like a ToDo List, and I was unable to accomplish all of them. The Tickler must be used for action items that must be accomplished on a date, or in case of the month, an action that has a deadline in that month. If it isn't used this way, it becomes as useless as the ToDo List.
     I have also created two more notebooks specific to my industry that I use more as reference files. I have  also thought about creating another Reference notebook for personal items to distinguish them from work, but I hate having a long notebooks list on the side of my screen, and the Tags work just fine for that task. 
     Lastly, because it feels good to accomplish tasks, I have a "Completed Tasks" notebook I keep just to see what I accomplish in one day. If I were disciplined enough, I could add the spontaneous tasks to this file that come up that interrupt the "best laid plans of mice and men" for the day.
     All my notebooks are also numbered starting with "0", so they are listed in order that I prefer and can relate to. I think that is the key to GTD using Evernote. Set it up in a way that works for the individual. It takes discipline to follow, but my desk is much clearer, and I feel much better about what I need to accomplish. However, it must be reviewed weekly, or with some notebooks, daily, for it all to work.