I’ve been owing you guys a review of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey for a while, now. Unfortunately for you, or fortunately – for me, the serendipitous order of my last few posts has lead me down a rabbit hole of learning to be effective, efficient and free of stress. All of this coincided with the start of biking weather and the windy season which pulled me outside more often than not. Now, you’re about to benefit from my readings and my learnings along the way. There were several dozen good take-aways from 7-Habits. I highly recommend that you read it. I’m not going to review it because there are literally thousands of good reviews out there. I’ve tried to find a way for others to read my highlights from the Kindle edition of the book without success. Some of the most valuable things that I took from 7-Habits were related to “putting first things first” and working in Quadrant II – Important but NOT Urgent things.
Anyway, after reading 7-Habits, and while I was trying to put the lessons learned into practice, I posted about the things that I would do to improve Outlook. One of those things was to allow hash tags that were searchable/categorizable. That lead me to an unsuccessful search for an outlook plug-in that would allow you to add tags to an email or accomplish any of the other things that I thought would be awesome for Microsoft Outlook. That search led me to The Secret Weapon. I’ll link that below… I don’t want you distracted just yet. The Secret Weapon allows you to set up and use the system called Getting Things Done in a 21st century way. Getting Things Done is a book by David Allen. I’d heard of it and even played around with the system when I first started using XMind. However, I’d not read the book. So, having stumbled across this system twice in 3 months and seeing how well it worked in XMind without having read the book, I decided it was about time to get the book and read it.
Getting Things Done is an easy read. It’s a considerably longer than it needs to be and it is clear that it was written before smart phones and PCs were ubiquitous, but the tips and tools he offers are really effective. I got everything that I need from the first 150 pages of the 250+ page book. The rest if really unnecessary when you apply the GTD system with The Secret Weapon.
I seriously suggest that you read the first 150 pages of Getting Things Done by David Allen. Check it out from the library. Don’t bother buying it. Hell, borrow it from me if you live nearby.
Download and read The Secret Weapon.
Download Evernote. Download Evernote for home and for work and for wherever else you have a computer.
Download Evernote for your smart phone. They have versions for all of the popular platforms.
Now, I have my entire life’s outstanding action items in one place – not floating around in the back of my mind. No need to try to remember those little nagging chores that you keep meaning to do. No more forgotten items at the store. Project management is a breeze with this system. I’ve even devised a notebook and note title system that I can use as a calendar so that my day’s required items and meetings don’t get lost in the shuffle. I now have nearly 100 different tags that are easily managed and organized by nesting and following a naming convention that works well.
My only wish now is that Evernote was an email client. If I didn’t have to move things back/forth between email and Evernote, my system would be seamless.
If you do decide to implement this system and you’d like to set up a calendar notebook, here’s what I did.
Create a notebook called Calendar
When you have items that are date specific that you need to remember or be reminded of something on a particular date, then begin the name of the note with the date in the format [YYYYMMDD HH:mm]. So, for example, if you need to be reminded that on June 5th at noon you have a Dr. appt, you might name the new note “20120605 12:00 Go to Dr Bob’s” Then, you can sort the notebook by title rather than by date created. Check that folder daily for things that you need to know today or in the coming days.
Let me know if you set this up for yourself and share tags that you think are keys to your own success with the system.