Whether it’s late December, late January, or even the middle of September, it’s always a good time of year to reassess our time management and productivity behaviors. I confess to reading every word of many books on the topic, including David Allen’s Getting Things Done, Julie Morgenstern’s Never Check E-mail in the Morning, and Timothy Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Work Week. I learned useful tidbits of information from all three, but Julie Morgenstern’s tips resonated most with me. You can follow her on Twitter for daily tips and time-wise encouragement.
Over the past year, I’ve engaged in an attempt to go paper-free as much as is reasonable. In this attempt, my attention has turned to online materials to assist me in my quest to make the most of the time that seems to slip away so quickly. I’ll share with you my favorite time management blog and two online tools that have made my organization and productivity take tremendous strides forward.
First, Time Management Ninja is a very popular blog written by Craig Jarrow. Post topics generally cover organization, time management, goals/motivation, e-mail organizing, and tips for the iPhone and iPad. If you’re new to the blog, I recommend starting with the Best of TMN section for a broad introduction to the ways this blog can help you change your life.
In my quest to find an online organizing system to help me transition from my trusty hand-written To Do Lists, I tried many tools, including Google’s task list, Things, Wunderlist, and a brief stint with Evernote. Most of them either seemed to lack some basic functions I wanted or were far too complicated – so long, Evernote!
But then I found ToDoist, and my extensive hand-written To Do Lists began to gather dust. This tool may be used exclusively online, as an app on your phone, or through a desktop version. And all versions sync seamlessly together. ToDoist allows you to create lists of things to do within categories or Projects. Due dates, color-coding, and easy check-off of tasks make this tool extremely useful.
I used ToDoist for about six months but sometimes found myself frustrated. I even upgraded to the Premium version, which certainly enhanced my experience. But I wanted something more. I wanted to add some explanatory notes or jot down ideas, but ToDoist just wouldn’t allow it. And then one sunny, crisp morning in late September, my life changed. On that day, I discovered WorkFlowy.
I’ve read that the true test of an online tool lies in whether you’re still using it six weeks after you begin. In the months since I began using WorkFlowy, my life has changed. Its website states, “Organize your brain.” That is precisely what it allows. It is simplicity at its best. Essentially, it’s an outline format for note-taking with endless collapsing abilities, meaning you can have a tome of text in your document but only have to view one small snippet on the page at one time.
Since starting to use it, I’ve upgraded to the premium version and believe I’ll use this product well into the future. I organize my entire life in my WorkFlowy document – my personal life, my work life, and everything in between. The only drawback is the inability to add specific due dates, but I’ve contacted the developers of WorkFlowy who assured me that is a function that will be added as time goes on. Until specific due dates are an option, I’m using the tagging option instead. You can create a tag for anything – dates, months, names, topics – and do a search for those.
You’ll have to check it out to understand just how fantastic it is. There is a wonderful 45 second introductory video on the site’s main page that will show you the powerful simplicity of this life-altering tool.
What are your favorite online tools and sources for time management and productivity? And if you’re an Evernote lover, please share how you get past the complexity to make it useful.