I used to subscribe to more rigid forms of task management systems like GTD in the past, but over time I find that having my own system has always worked the best. As I get smarter, my system evolves.
What’s important in my own system is flexibility. This means I’ll use multiple tools to capture and plan things,
For the everyday need of capturing ideas, I’ll use anything from text files to smooth rocks. Sometimes when planning a project, I’ll use a trusty notebook. Other times I’ll use plain text files on my Mac.
The same is true for writing. Often I’ll sketch ideas onto paper, and then plunk them into digital form later (just like this post).
Scratching ideas and thoughts on paper feels more fluid and free than typing out list items in Evernote. Organizing my day online feels more, well, organized when I’m using a computer for list management.
So really, it all depends on what mood I’m in. Feeling like I need to pull in the organizational reigns? It’s a structured list in a text file on my desktop. If I’m needing a little more flexibility and control over the medium, I’ll switch to paper.
All of these platforms serve a specific purpose. I couldn’t just use one for the rest of my life because that’s not who I am. I’m not a cyborg. I need different tools because they make me a more creative person. The medium can make a huge difference, after all.
Switching Platforms Caveat
The problem with all this contextual switching is that it can be hard to keep track of where stuff is.
The key is knowing where to find everything after you’ve jotted it down. I use Evernote to capture everything for archival purposes. If I’m using a piece of paper, notebook, or some other offline tool, I’ll take a picture and upload into Evernote. Evernote can read text in images, so this means that text within images can be searched.
If I’m using text in a text editor, I have the option of emailing the file, or just copy/pasting it into an Evernote file.
You could also use some other form of archiving, like manually re-typing the info into a text file. (Some people swear that the repetition helps with their memory.) Or you could take a snapshot of your notes and digitally save them.
I know it’s preached among the Uber Productive that it’s necessary to stick to One Platform, but I don’t. This might make me less “productive”, but I think it helps keep things fresh.
And that, to me, is the most important aspect of a productivity or planning tool.
Can I get an amen?