A Month Without a Paper Planner

Hello everyone! Happy Monday!

It’s been about a month since I decided to move from a paper planner to a cloud based system, so I thought I’d give a little update about how it’s working.

It surprisingly wasn’t as easy as I had thought. As much as I hate to admit it, I think I actually went through a bit of paper planner withdrawal which is a bit scary to be honest. There were definitely days where I wanted to have a planner with me {for what reason, I don’t know. I didn’t have anything to write in it, and I wasn’t going to use it. I just wanted to have nearby.} There were also days {or weeks…} where I scanned Flickr, Pinterest, and Youtube for planners, and Philofaxy’s Webfinds are still a staple in my blog reading. I’ve just kept reminding myself that it’s all in my head.

I guess the most shocking thing, after I got the whole withdrawal thing out of the way, is that it actually worked! I did have to tweak Things a bit, but I’ve probably gotten more done this past month than I have in a while. I think a big part of the issue was that before I got rid of the paper planner, I had things scattered everywhere. Some tasks were in Things and others were in my planner, so I was never really using one system fully. Now everything is in Things and Google Calendar. I only have one place to check, and I only have it put it there once.

I’m not sure what the future has in store for my planning situation. Clearly going all digital works for me right now, but I still have some weird attachment to paper planners even if I don’t seem to use them.

Should I decide to go back to paper planners, my next experiment will likely be a Filofax Flex sort of set up with a monthly notebook and either a weekly or daily book that I’d use to implement my Bullet Journal + Life Mapping combo. Size and colors and books are all still up in the air.

Thankfully, for now, I have a system that works. I’ll be sticking with it at least until the end of the year {mainly for my wallet’s sake}.

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Rethinking Things

Over 6 months ago I first posted about using Things for Mac/iOS to manage my tasks. For those of you who don’t know, Things, is a beautifully designed task manager loosely based of the GTD system available on the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. For me, it’s been one of the few constants in my planning set up, but it took a really long time for it to get there. {I actually hated it at first. True story.}

The Things app for Mac is set up with 4 main areas {The iOS apps don’t actually label these.}:

  • Collect – for your Inbox
  • Focus – for Today, Next, Scheduled, Someday, or Projects
  • Active Projects
  • Areas – Contexts in GTD

Now Things is designed with GTD in mind, but I never actually used it that way.  I set up my areas based on “areas of my life”, like my Google Calendars are set up, not based on actual physical areas. These were the areas I was using: Blog, Work, Personal, Cleaning, Pets, Media, and Shopping.

ThingsOld

The more I started using Things, the more I realized that these “areas” really didn’t work that well. When I opened Things to the Today view, my first thought was “I am at this location. What can I do right now?” I wasn’t concerned with what kind of task it was. I just wanted to see what I could do based on where I was quickly, so I changed my areas to reflect actual physical areas:

ThingsNew

  • Home – Personal things, pet things, cleaning, and anything else I need to be at home to do all go here.
  • Work – Work-related tasks go here. {A lot of these tasks are technically computer related tasks, but I really prefer to keep my work tasks at work, so computer-related or not, they go into work.}
  • Computer – These are things I need a computer to do like watching a video, buying something online, filling out a form, etc.
  • Errands – And this list is for things I need to leave the house to do like pick up something from the store.

Things also has tags. Using the 4 areasalong with tags gives me a really great set up. Cleaning tasks in the Home area have a cleaning tag, so I know I have to be at home to do them, but if I want to see all my cleaning tasks, I can view just that tag. Tags really shine in terms of shopping. Whether I want to buy something online {in the Computer area} or in a store {Errands}, I can filter by the shopping tag and see everything on my shopping list. Even better, I can add a tag for a specific store, so the next time I decide to go to Target or Walmart, I can filter by the store name and see everything I need to get while I’m there.

When I first installed Things and started playing around with it, I never imagined it’d be such a huge part of my daily routine. I also never imagined, my set up would evolve to where it is now, but through a lot of trial and error, I’ve been able to get Things set up in a way that really works wonders for me. {I’m talking my daily to do list is now 2-3 things vs. 20 things I put off doing for the past week.}

By the way, please check out the wonderful campaign going on for the BlueFit bottle over at Indiegogo. This awesome bottle reminds you to drink water throughout the day and links to your smart phone to track your drinking habits over time. They have 14 days left to raise another $84,000, so please consider contributing if you can.  They’ve been running quite a few referral promotions over the past couple weeks with great prizes so pass along the campaign and you might just be able to score some free prizes as well.

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