UKC

/ Organising one's life (with apps and that)

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Jon Stewart - on 13 Mar 2018

I'm not particularly organised. I usually show up to work in the right place on the right day, but beyond that I can struggle. My car's in for MOT today; it's my day off and I want the car, but it was the only possible day because I'd left it until the last minute. The other day I'd organised to go climbing in one place, but was in the middle of the Lakes with no signal instead. In my head I've got quite a long list of tasks to get done, and a shopping list of non-urgent items to get online or in town, but I can't really be bothered to think about what precisely they are, nor to actually get them. I'm quite easily distracted by Radio 4, the kettle, and UKC. You get the idea.

Are there any good apps - stuff that's both on Android and Windows (I do a lot of stuff at the laptop rather than phone) - that might be helpful? I'm obviously not going to pay.

 

Tall Clare - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Wunderlist is useful for lists (hence the name) - we use a shared list for grocery shopping, christmas presents and that sort of thing. You can set reminders on particular items or lists, so they ping at you.

Jon Stewart - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Tall Clare:

Ta, will check that out.

I think it needs to be simple rather than something that tries to integrate with email and what have you, since I have at least 4 different emails, plus other messaging things like whatsapp etc. Any attempt to integrate (rather than me just picking things I deem to be important and putting them on a list) is doomed to fail!

Tall Clare - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

This is definitely simple. I'm pretty analogue (i.e. I still have a paper diary, and I prefer written to-do lists) but this seems to work well - it's very unfussy.

Bob Kemp - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Tall Clare:

Didn't Wunderlist go over to some kind of subscription model?  I stopped using it for some reason... although having said that I've tried dozens of to-do apps and never manage to keep using them consistently. 

(I'm [not] using ToDoist at the moment... It's pretty good but over-featured for me.)

Post edited at 12:03
Tall Clare - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Bob Kemp:

I don't think so - I think I got some free deal on a 'bumped up' version of it years ago for using some German WiFi or something like that (all a bit odd - I was in Berlin at the time and don't remember much else) - but I haven't paid anything for it in the last three years.

Bob Kemp - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Tall Clare:

Just had a look and it seems there's still a free version. Would probably suit Jon fine. 

Climbing Pieman on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

I use google calendar for all diary/time based things. Especially handy for say infrequent things like bill payments, mot, insurances, etc, that repeat; I just add the repeat setting at the time so it’s there to see in a year’s time or whatever the repeat is.

You can have different calendars for say work, social etc.* I have to keep track of mother’s stuff as well and it’s all on it. Been using for at least 4 yrs now and it’s been fault free, and syncs with all your authorised devices including windows on pc. It’s stored on google servers so always backed up and so no problem changing phone/pc as it’s all there to download to a new device. You can log into google calendar from anywhere and all the entries are there, though I never do. You can also permit others to access so you can share a particular calendar with say a partner/colleague. 

Otherwise, I use a plain notes app on phone for general not time specific to do lists which I sync automatically with other devices. Biggest weakness for that is me remembering to check the notes! Calendar is not a problem as I set up visual/sound reminders for important stuff.

edit: * though separate they can all be displayed in one master calendar if you wish which is how I have mine set up.

Post edited at 12:33
Jon Stewart - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Climbing Pieman:

Cheers. I just looked at Google calendar and it had a to-do list on from some time last year. To my shock, I was able to tick all but 2 items off this 7 item list. I think I'll have a cup of tea to celebrate and listen to the world at 1.

Neil Williams - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Google Calendar basically runs my life.

One thing, though - I don't use to-do items at all - I put everything in as an event on the day I need to have done it by.  Then if I get to that day and I haven't done it, I have to move it to another day, do it or actively decide not to do it.

It makes a massive, massive difference working this way, I find.

kathrync - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Google calendar, Google Keep (effectively post-it notes on my phone), Google shopping lists...

Yes, Google pretty much knows every move I make!

Jon Stewart - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

> I put everything in as an event on the day I need to have done it by.  Then if I get to that day and I haven't done it, I have to move it to another day, do it or actively decide not to do it.

Oof! That's a bit much for me. I find the idea of picking a specific date on which to buy an armchair to be abhorrent/terrifying.

Irk the Purist - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Trello is good for lists. I use it to write down all the things I have to do related to different things. Then when I have some spare time I can have a quick look and tick some off. It also acts as my repository of 'things to buy' although I have recently started using the amazon wish list for this instead.

Timed things I put in my work calendar that I stare at every day. 

yorkshireman - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Wunderlist is fine, I've had a play but settled on Todoist.

However, I would recommend sorting out a methodology for organising yourself and don't get hung up on a tool. A lot of people swear by GTD and the Dave Allen book is a worth a read if you want to get stuck in. However the principles I've learned are.

  1. Settle on an inbox. Whenever anything pops up that you're going to have to do, whether its something you need to remember to buy at the supermarket, a call you need to make or a project at work, get it written down somewhere. Carry a notepad around with you, tell Alexa or use an app on your phone. It doesn't really matter - just make sure that its something that is nearly always close at hand. I use my phone but also have an IFTTT recipe set up so I can tell Google Home.
     
  2. Review your inbox regularly. At least once a day, take a look at your inbox. If a task can be done in under two minutes, stop mucking around and just do it now. If not, put it into a context, create a calendar reminder if its an appointment, or just delete it if its not relevant any more.
     
  3. A context is a situation you will find yourself in where you can look up tasks associated. A common naming convention is to name them with an @ especitally if you're using an app. So in ToDoIst I have contexts named @work, @diy, @home, @contact, @errands, @shopping - actually they're more complex and some are nested but you get the concept.

    Basically if I'm out in the supermarket, I just look at the @shopping context and everything I need to buy is there. If I've got 10 minutes free at work and can make some calls, I'll check the @contact context.

There's a lot more to it but the main principle is to get stuff out of your head and into a system. You'll need to tweak the system to fit your lifestyle and I still haven't nailed it but have found variations of the above have saved my arse quite a few times. Once you trust the system (and review it regularly) you can stop worrying about stuff that's in it and get on with life.

An honourable mention has to go to Evernote. I use this for pretty much everything across multiple devices at work and at home and its definitely worth the subscription fee. You can use it for free if you limit to two devices.

> I'm obviously not going to pay.

Software developers have to eat. I pay for Evernote and Todoist as I get genuine value out of them and they cost the equivalent each of a cup of coffee per month. You can try them free (or limit to just one or two devices) though if you really don't want to spend anything.

Climbing Pieman on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Oh I’ll check out google’s To do list; thanks as I didn’t know they had one now.

Jon Stewart - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to yorkshireman:

Thanks for such a detailed reply. Are you procrastinating perhaps...?

In all honesty my life isn't very busy and it's more that too much flexibility leaves to inactivity rather than a struggle to fit everything in. As such it's just a little nudge that I need rather than a system with any sophistication. That said, I like the idea of tasks in different contexts, so that you don't have to look at a massive list of crap boring things you can't be arsed to do and react with a "pffff" - shrug - tea - youtube response.

Run_Ross_Run - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

 

Try 'SplenDo'  for tasks and 'Out of milk' for shopping lists . Both nice a basic. 

 

 

 

wbo - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart: the best organiser I've ever had is a printed card year planner that I get from the supermarket.  Each month is a column. You can write on it plans, events, summaries , all sorts.  Perfect training diaries.  Being able to see 6 months in one view is extremely helpful

 

Dauphin on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

ADHD much? 

Use Google Keep & Assistant to keep track of things - easy to speak into Assistant to set a place / time or date reminder while on the move and safer than writing it on a bit of paper tucking into a book and throwing it in my (man) bag. 

Shred paperwork monthly and use an app ( Camscanner ) to take a copy of anything important and upload to Dropbox, I can tag it with easy and or important relevant information so it makes searching easy or share it with Google Keep if I need it for any meeting or apointments. 

I'm not naturally organized around my own personal administration - modern life is endless administration instead of doing anything - my throwback neurology is definitely geared to thrilltseeking - but a few hours of tw*tting about with these apps every month has saved me lots of time and money. Smart phone + apps has been a revelation. 

D

Pursued by a bear - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to yorkshireman:

I've recently started using IFTTT and once I'd got over the bother of working out how to use it, it's been really useful. WiFi goes off and on when I leave and return to the house, mail receipts go automatically to a spreadsheet so I can keep track and more. Sorting through the applets to find the useful ones takes a bit of time, but worth the investment for me.

Else, anything Google...

T.

RomTheBear on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

There is only 24 hours in a day and only so many places you can be at one, but one app I found really useful is called "lifecycle", it keep a record of how you spend your time during the day, most of it is done automatically using you location.
By quantifying how much time I spent on each activity over days, weeks and months, this allowed me to identify where I was wasting time or spending too much time, and helped me change behaviour in quite a dramatic way.

Post edited at 19:32
1
The Lemming - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Climbing Pieman:

> I use google calendar for all diary/time based things. Especially handy for say infrequent things like bill payments, mot, insurances, etc, that repeat; I just add the repeat setting at the time so it’s there to see in a year’s time or whatever the repeat is.

 

+1 for Google Calanders.

 

I have found this to be invaluable to organise my personal and work life.  It even keeps track of my rolling shift pattern so that I can work out my days off months in advance.

The more you use the calendar feature the more you will find uses for it.

bouldery bits - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

I tried all this.

Got fed up.

Got a day to view diary.

Sorted.

Robert Durran - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

As someone who sort of muddles through life in a state of mostly benign confusion, I think being disorganised is actually quite a good thing. I've never had a diary, though I do sometimes scribble things on bits of paper which I lose. I can't imagine wanting the stress of coping with anything digital. Being disorganised means you often just forget about all the crap which, in the end, doesn't really matter and sort of washes over you anyway, leaving you free to concentrate on the important stuff.

Edit: Genuine question - if you think stuff is important enough to put in a diary, how do you cope with stressing about the stuff you've probably forgot to put in it and then completely forgotten about?

Post edited at 21:59
Jon Stewart - on 13 Mar 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

It's all about trying to find the optimal balance. I'm not just disorganised and unmotivated, I'm also self-indulgent. This does indeed lead to some positive consequences: I've drunk some lovely wine this evening with some good cheese (too disorganised to have bought any oatcakes with it, but I'm not convinced that was actually bad) while learning fascinating stuff about music. I really haven't prepared for tomorrow's meeting (well I did a bit in my head while out on the fells, and this is sufficient in my judgment) and I didn't make much headway on the housework and whatnot.

I'm not trying to change my ways particularly. But it would have been better if I'd got the MOT sorted before the expiry date, and if I'd written to various people about stuff we were planning to do, and if I'd bought an armchair for the front room, and some new climbing trousers, and...

Being disorganised is all well and good, but getting a few simple practical things done on time wouldn't hurt.

Post edited at 23:49
Neil Williams - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> Oof! That's a bit much for me. I find the idea of picking a specific date on which to buy an armchair to be abhorrent/terrifying.

I actually genuinely would do that if I *needed* to buy an armchair, i.e. I was about to fall through my old one.  If I didn't *need* to it wouldn't go in anywhere, if you see what I mean.

I find it a lot more terrifying to have a never-ending to do list (even if some items have dates on them way out).  I much prefer the idea of "next weekend I will go armchair shopping", so enter it and forget about it.  If I don't go, I move it to the next time when I logically might.

But not everything needs putting on.  I don't tend to clothes shop to a plan, say, so that never gets entered, if you see what I mean.  But if I *needed* to buy a new formal jacket in advance of an important interview or a wedding, say, I probably would plan that in.

Post edited at 09:24
yorkshireman - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

> But not everything needs putting on.  I don't tend to clothes shop to a plan, say, so that never gets entered, if you see what I mean.  But if I *needed* to buy a new formal jacket in advance of an important interview or a wedding, say, I probably would plan that in.

I know what you mean, but my entire working week is regimented as I work for a multinational with distributed teams in multiple locations so I'm either traveling (therefore flights, hotels, blocked out time for taxis, dinners etc all religiously go in Outlook) or I'm on conference calls or in workshops. All these go in Outlook and my iPhone alerts me to the next thing I'm doing.

I'd hate that level of prescription for non-critical stuff.

I also live a long way from any towns, so I'll consolidate a lot of shopping and errands. Just looking at my list, I need to sell and old Garmin watch on eBay - not critical but when I've got some time I'll see it in my @home list because its dependent on being in the house to take photos etc. Equally my big list of @diy jobs is dependent on a lot of things. I need to wait for the snow to melt before I can fix the chicken enclosure but I can pick dry weather jobs or indoor ones for the evening if I feel like spending time. 

Equally big tasks need turning into projects with sub tasks. So having a project set up with multiple tasks aligned to it makes a lot more sense and stops you getting overwhelmed.

Max factor - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to kathrync:

> Google calendar, Google Keep (effectively post-it notes on my phone), =

Yes, google Keep is a good simple notes app, and you can share them, so we we use ours to add things to the family shopping list, or for  putting the kid's present ideas on. that plus google calendar seems to be all we need. 

 

Neil Williams - on 14 Mar 2018
In reply to yorkshireman:

Each to their own I guess...while I don't do personal stuff to the minute (it tends just to be against days) I do like the "Outlook" way of organising stuff and do do personal stuff about the same way as work stuff.  I find it allows me to cram a lot in.


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