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Organizing Revisited

February 26, 2006

I’m pretty much settled into a system now, but I’m always looking for something better. I’ve now decided that it’s useless to try to file most documents. I try, but it’s seems to work better for me to just drop them all into a folder, and then index and search that in Spotlight on the Mac or using MSN Search Toolbar in Windows. It’s hard to let go of the idea of filing things, but with the great search technology we have available, it seems pretty pointless to spend more time filing than you need to. Not filing stuff makes you feel like you’re living without closets and drawers for your clothes, but then you realize that there’s somebody to hand you anything you want, and the details of how these things are stored are fairly unimportant. It doesn’t matter as long as they are somewhere accessible. I think Vista is really going to drive that idea home for people, so I might as well get used to it now.

My current system is fairly straightforward.

Calendar, contacts, and e-mail: All on Exchange, so that’s accessed through Entourage, Outlook, and OWA – This all works great. I’ve been carrying a Palm TX. This syncs calendars and e-mail directly with Exchange and it syncs everything else with my macs. Suggestion: If you don’t have an Exchange account at work, you can get a hosted Exchange account from one of these providers.

Tasks: I’ve been using Backpack for my task and project lists. These lists are available from Web clients and from my phone and PDA. Works great.

Notes: I’m taking notes in Word. I started the year with a plan to take one document full of notes a week, but it didn’t work out very well. Much easier to just open a new document every meeting and keep notes in that. I’ve been naming my files in the format MMDDYYYY – Whatever and dropping that into a folder related to whatever project I’m working on. I’m using FolderShare to share all these documents between my machines. I’m actually leaning toward getting rid of all of these folders and just moving every document to the same folder. If I try that, I’ll post about how that works out. 🙂

I’m trying to use the Moleskine for anything that I would normally write on a Post-It note. As a matter of fact, I’m going to use this post as a note to myself to hide my Post-It notes. It’s too easy to just start writing on them and then ending up having useless bits of paper all over.

I’ve been seeing some great posts describing organizational methods lately. I’m still interested in finding new and better ways of doing all this stuff, and so here are some of the recent resources that I’ve been looking at. All great ideas, all very interesting.

A Beginner’s Guide to Making a D*I*Y Planner – Very tempting to try the notecard based system.

Expiring Reference Items – Omar always has good ideas around organizing stuff.

43 Folders – Lots of great info.

Lifehacker – Ditto

Mac Office Resources – Lots of good articles and templates for Mac Office.

Stikipad – Personal Wiki. Very nice. They’re removed the page limitations on the free accounts.

Backpack – Love it. Access my lists on the web. I usually print my list of big projects and take it into my one on one each week.

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