How I do… stuff

By February 28, 2009June 14th, 2009No Comments

Sorting it outWe are, I’m not shy of saying, in the golden age of the geek. The world is getting more and more integrated every day, the internet is getting more useful, the information we see gets greater and greater – and the amount of work I have to plough through getting ever larger.

The other day, while I was doing my day job, then going home and designing 3 websites, catching up on the day’s news and working out some final wedding plans, a friend asked how I manage to keep up with all the things I do. My answer? I use free, online services that integrate with each other, and do everything automatically. That way, a lot of the work is done for you, and as long as you’re near a computer they’ll be instantly available. Sure, you can do things with pen and paper too – but I’m a geek. Where’s the fun in ink and dead trees? (Actually, there is some hope at the end of this piece…)

So, here’s what I do. Maybe it will help you to get through the mountains of *stuff* too…

*General Philosophy*
David Allen
once quit his job to sell a new way of working to the world. His system, Getting Things Done (GTD), has been adopted the world over, and while a lot of it is a bit deep, I use quite a few of the ideas to get stuff done. Three main points – never put things off if you can do them now; divide tasks into sections and smaller tasks; and if you can, have one hub for all the information. Read up on GTD here.

*Catch-all hub of awesomeness*
Netvibes is a personal start page, can do everything I need it to. Use it for your most-used bookmarks, have separate tabs per section and integrate it with almost everything below. Seriously, it’ll save a heap of time.

*Day-to-day tasks*
Got single or recurring things that you need to be reminded of? Todoist will allow you to set up your tasks and projects in a simple, great way (you can add reminders to it for $3 a month). Alternatively, Google Calendar will do the same in a calendar interface, with free SMS reminders too. And view it through Netvibes, and you’re back to one hub of information.

*Internet Browsing*
People still use Internet Explorer 7 either because they have to or they never knew there was a choice. Firefox is my choice, and the plugins it has make it indispensible. If you want to save links for later, try Delicious. Simple, and the best.

*Catch-all Email*
Gmail is everything you could need for your email, and more. Once you try it, with all it’s wizardy filters, you won’t go back. If you use Firefox, sprinkle Gmail with the GTDInbox plugin and it becomes your personal task manager.


Again, Google comes up trumps. Google Calendar allows you to easily record everything, divide your events into different categories, and automatically send out emails and SMS texts as reminders.

Meebo Icon*Instant Messenging*
allows you to connect to any of the major Instant Messenging services, including Facebook and Jabber. And, because t’s just on a website, you can access it from anywhere. It’ll even keep your chat logs.

*Connect your Work and Personal Calendars*
If you have a calendar for work (usually Outlook) and one for homeĀ  (Google Calendar for me), you can synchronise them with SyncMyCal or Google Calendar Sync.

*Keep track of your favourite sites*
Are they blogs or sites that have an RSS feed (what is an RSS feed)? Track them with Google Reader and catch up with them whenever you have time. If you’d prefer email updates of the blogs instead, try FeedMyInbox, which will send you an email every day with the updates. Alternatively, you can have any RSS feed shown and synced in Netvibes, that diggy mofo I mentioned earlier.

If they’re not blogs or not constantly updated, you can still track any changes with ChangeDetection.

Get all this sorted, and you’ll never have to visit a site “just to check” again.

*Keep track of your friends*
Facebook is the obvious contender here, and for the more geeky amongst you, Twitter is the place to be. Integrate your Facebook status with twitter using Twitterfeed to save you having to update twice. If you contribute to a blog you can automatically announce your blog posts using Twitterfeed too.

*Keep track of your favourite things*
I want to keep updated on any mentions of my home town, the company, my unique surname, the list goes on. Google Alerts will send you updates on relevant things that pop up on Google searches and Google News. SocialMentions will search a whole lot of social sites and email you mentions. Tweetbeep or TweetLater will do this in greater detail just for Twitter.

Coffee Shop Study*And finally*
I tend to wake up every morning at 6am and immediately think of things to do, or ideas to investigate. Sometimes an idea strikes when I’m not at a computer (I’m not tied to it, promise). So, a good old pen and pad does the trick when I’m out and about.

Let me know if you have any other websites or ideas that will help – I’m all ears…

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