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Help Me Get Organized!

I need your advice. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you know that I’m on a journey toward simplifying my life. Part of that task is getting organized in a way that is simple, not more complicated. I once worked with a guy who spent the first two hours of every morning setting up his to do list for the day. He ended up with great looking task lists, but he never had any time left to actually accomplish anything. So I need your help. Let me start by tell you what I’m doing night now:

First, I dumped Entourage for Apple Mail, iCal, and Address Book. If you’re not a Mac person, it’s enough to know that they don’t have all the bells and whistles of Outlook or Entourage, but they do the job very easily and simply. Plus, as Apple products, they talk to each other pretty well.

Second, I use Dossier for my to do lists. iCal has a simple to do function that’s an easy to use list on the side of the calendar. But for more complex tasks, Dossier is the best I’ve found. It’s set up with folders, much like an e-mail program, and I can group tasks by client, project, personal, etc. So it’s a great tool for keeping track of action steps, meeting notes, references, and tasks. I’d like your thoughts about it, because in some ways it’s too complex, so with numerous folders (like I’ve created) it starts to complicate my life rather than simplifying it.

Here’s what I’d really like. The “Getting Things Done” guys have an interesting starting point – to collect all your “stuff” into one bucket – or as few buckets as you can. For instance, you have a wire in-box on your desk for paper stuff. I’m really visual, so in my case, I bought a bunch of leather boxes on a table, and I use them to organize all my paper stuff – scripts, clippings, blog ideas, book research, etc…. So we have a “paper stuff” inbox on our desks.

But we also need a “bucket” on our computer as well. One bucket is our e-mail program. I set up folders for clients and projects, plus a “follow-up” folder as well for stuff I don’t have to deal with right away. Some people use other folders for various priorities.

But then I need another bucket on the computer (which for me is Dossier), which holds all my task related items.

Finally, most of us use folders on our desktop for documents, images, spreadsheets, and other files we need access to regularly.

The problem with this system is that we end up with 3-5 different buckets – all duplicating the same structure (in my case, organizing by clients and projects). So we’re always checking different buckets, and each bucket has different priorities. So while I think the e-mail I’m reading is a priority for client X, in actuality, there’s a more pressing task over there in Dossier for that client, or the folder on my desktop.

SO MY BIG QUESTION IS: Is there a program out there that could become a bucket for all things electronic? In other words, where’s the program that lets me put everything inside one bucket? So we have one place to look for everything we need? Instead of taking the time to look through multiple places for information and tasks, why can’t we have a single program that can hold everything – e-mails, tasks, documents, web pages, and more?

Any ideas or suggestions out there?


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  1. David Allen has a great podcast that helps one to implement the Getting Things Done way and the issue of multiple inboxes. It’s called the David Allen Company podcast.

  2. Phil, I am a Mac guy, myself, but the best thing you can do is buy a Moleskin.  Nothing can ever replaced writing something down and whatever you write down is always in the Moleskin.  Best thing I ever bought besides my Bible and a fountain pen.

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