How I Work: Todo Lists

Task management has been an obsession of mine for a long time. I am constantly on the look out for new apps to try. I still have yet to find the perfect app for me, but I’m closer than I have ever been.

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For a long time I used Wunderlist. Wunderlist is a beautiful app, and is available for pretty much everything. It is extremely powerful and robust, even without a Pro account.

Therein lies problem #1. It’s a freemium service. To get the good features, you’ve gotta pay. It’s still very powerful without a free account, but this brings me to problem #2. Even the free version can be overly complicated for a task manager.

I need a task manager that is super simple. Not for me, but for my coworkers. I want to be able to assign tasks to everyone on our church staff*. For this to happen, the app needs to be super intuitive, and not feature-rich.

*I believe Wunderlist requires a Pro account for this, which is problem #3.

Enter Any.DO.

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Beautifully simple. Super intuitive. Completely free.

Any.DO has the ability to be as simple or complex as you’d like it. It is completely based around when tasks need to be done. This can be as simple as “Today, Tomorrow, Upcoming, or Some Day”, or as complex as “Every Tuesday at 2:31pm”.

Any.DO gives you a notification every morning to remind you to plan your day. This is probably my favorite feature. It helps me set the tone for the rest of my day. It goes through every task for the day and asks if and when you would like to be reminded about them. You can also delay a task for another day if you’d like.

Another neat feature is if you mention a contact name in a task it puts a button to the right to give you easy access to contact the person.

However, Any.DO is not without flaws. Syncing between multiple devices doesn’t feel consistently fluid, but it’s getting better. It is only available for iPhones, Android phones and as a Chrome extension or Chrome desktop app (a new type of Chrome extension that was recently introduced). There is no official tablet version, nor is there a self-installing desktop app (however, the Chrome app is pretty nifty, and feels like a desktop app).

I have only recently started using the task assigning/sharing features, but it seems to work great, as long as you use the same email address that the other person used to sign into Any.DO with.

If Any.DO fixes the minor syncing issues and creates an official iPad app, they will completely win me over.

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How I Work: Todo Lists

Favorite Tweets of the Week

 

tonymorganliveSep 23, 5:57pm

“7 Reasons Churches that Want to Reach Unchurched People…Don’t” careynieuwhof.com” tmlive.us/1fcxkhc

 

cmsucks Sep 24, 8:05am

“What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance” @rachelheldevanscmsucks.us/qb KH

 

MrChurchGuy Sep 24, 10:30am

Judging by the games and events that my Facebook friends think I will like, they don’t really know me very well.

 

JustinWise Sep 24, 3:14pm

What a blast! Thanks to all who came to #7mistakes! If you missed it and want to catch the replay, go here:ow.ly/paQYe

 

floodstudents Sep 25, 8:25pm via HootSuite

“and God’s like… Yo!” ~Kit

Favorite Tweets of the Week

How I Work: How Evernote

If you missed part 1 of this series, you may want to check it out. I talk about why I use Evernote instead of one of the other bazillion note apps out there.

Before I get into explaining how I use Evernote, let me first make sure you understand these two things about the application. You can sort notes in two ways. Notes are stored in notebooks and can have labels (called tags). Having two levels of sorting is incredibly powerful because it allows you to view all notes that contain a specific tag regardless of which notebook they belong to.

CLEANING HOUSE

The biggest thing that Evernote helps me with is keeping a clean desk. Every day I am handed countless pieces of paper that require some sort of action to be taken. 90% of the time the paper itself isn’t important, I just need the information on the paper. At some point in the day (usually when I get to work, or before I leave) I will take all of the paper on my desk and create a new note in Evernote with a picture of the paper. I will then title the note and give it any appropriate tags.

For a while this was all I would do, but I quickly discovered that notes would be forgotten and many tasks would go by without being completed. To solve this I created tags for each day of the week. When I create the note I add the tag for whatever day I need to look at the note on.

ImageFor example, tonight we had a men’s event and one of our staff brought me a request for mailing labels that was from one of our Sunday School teachers. I immediately pulled out my phone, opened Evernote and created a new note with a picture of the hand written note. I then titled it “Mailing Label Request” and then gave it the tag “Friday” so that I remember to do it the next day. The final step is always the most satisfying… throwing the piece of paper away.

You might be saying to yourself, “Kyle, how do you remember to check the daily tag every day?” Easy. I created a recurring task in Any.DO (my preferred todo list app) to remind me to check it.

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I’ll be reviewing Any.DO in another post in the near future.

NOTEBOOK SCTRUCTURE

One of the things people say about Evernote is that the more you use it, the better it gets. This is true, but you have to learn to adapt your notebook structure to ensure maximum efficiency.

After using Evernote for a few months I discovered that one notebook (called Church) had a large amount of notes in it making it difficult to find the note I’m specifically looking for. Tags can help with this, but I wanted a better way to organize my notes so I created 6 sub-notebooks inside the Church notebook.

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In your Evernote settings you can set a specific notebook to be your default notebook. I have mine set to “Church:To Sort”. This notebook is simply a catch-all notebook for all new notes. This saves me time when creating the note because I don’t have to think about changing the notebook the note should be in. Instead, later when I’m at my desk I go through the sort folder and put notes where they belong. I may eventually move this notebook outside of the church notebook system, but for now that’s where I have it.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

There are a lot more things I use Evernote for, but this is the majority of it. I’ll continue mentioning Evernote as I proceed in this series.

After reading this post, be sure to check out my updated post where I talk about one key feature added to Evernote that I don’t talk about here!

How I Work: How Evernote

How I Work: Why Evernote?

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The central core of my productivity is based around Evernote. This is the same song that thousands of bloggers have been singing for years, but for many of those years I was singing a different tune. I was singing a tune with a bit more bounce* to it.

*My apologies for the lame pun. The punchline is just around the corner.

Over the years I have learned that it is better to choose an app that has good interconnectivity with other apps than it is to choose a “better” app that lacks these sharing features. This means that many apps are chosen simply because other apps can communicate with it. This is the main reason why I switched from SpringPad to Evernote about a year ago.

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Back story.

I have used SpringPad almost since it’s release in 2008. I read an article about how it was more than just a place for notes (comparing it to Evernote which was released just 6 months earlier), it was a digital personal assistant. At the time, Evernote seemed too limited, especially in comparison to SpringPad. The main selling point for me was that there were no limitations on the amount of data you could transfer and store on their servers.

Fast forward to today.

SpringPad has changed. It has added a lot of really neat features, but unfortunately I have no need for any of them. They have added a lot of cool notification services. For instance, you can create a wish list on SpringPad of things you want to buy and SpringPad will let you know when a product drops in price. That’s cool and all, but I don’t have a need for that. They’ve also added a LOT of social features. You can subscribe to other people’s notebooks and follow their activity, but that is only useful if you know a lot of people who use SpringPad. But again, that’s not what I need.

What I need is a service that will allow me to send it anything I need to remember later. News articles, blog posts or pictures of anything from business cards to Post-It Notes* that have been sitting on my desk all day.

*Evernote actually just added some cool new Post-It Note features today.

Could SpringPad do all of this? Absolutely. The problem is, SpringPad does SO MUCH MORE! That is usually a good thing, but instead it just becomes a distraction and gets in the way of my work.

The last straw.

Then comes the issue of interconnectivity. Almost every other app in my list of apps has the ability to send things to Evernote. I don’t think any of them can do the same with SpringPad. This makes the choice very simple.

Evernote is the perfect service for collecting and organizing all of your information in one place.

Wow, that took up a lot more text than I expected to, and I didn’t even mention the fact that Evernote has apps available for pretty much every OS, including desktop. In the next post I’ll actually start talking about HOW I use Evernote, not just WHY.

How I Work: Why Evernote?

How I Work: Table of Contents

About a year ago a friend of mine and I began brainstorming ideas for a seminar on social media to teach our Sunday School leadership the do’s and dont’s of social media. Big things like why you should create a page for your Sunday School class on Facebook and not an actual person named “Sunday School”, and also small things like calling the church by its shorthand name, not its acronym.

This has blossomed into a full fledged, multi-week corse on technology, social media, games, etc…

Most of the topics will be very low-level, watered down ideas (so not something I would put on this blog). However, one thing I thought might be interesting is to do a class teaching them how to use their phone or tablet for more than just email and games. I’ve found that a lot of people fail at realizing the real potential that can come from one of these devices.

So I figured I would begin working on that particular curriculum by doing a few blog posts regarding how I use different apps to get me through the work day.

Too Many Apps

This post will be a quick synopsis, but posts regarding specific apps will follow.

My Devices

  • iPhone 4S – 16gb
  • iPad 2 – 16gb
  • Home-built PC running Windows 8 (my pride and joy)
    • 8 Core 4.0ghz Intel Processor
    • 32gb Ram
    • 256gb SSD
    • 512gb HDD
  • iMac (2011 Model) at home.

Applications I Use Most Frequently (in no significant order)

  • Chrome – Syncing across platforms is priceless.
  • Trello – To help plan out social media posts.
  • Ideas – To help organize blog post ideas.
  • 30/30 – Helps me maintain a consistent social media schedule
  • Songza – Instrumental background music while I write.
  • Feedly/Pocket – For reading blogs/articles.
  • Hootsuite – For posting to Twitter and Facebook
  • Evernote – My virtual briefcase.
  • Any.DO – My todo list.
  • Penultimate – For handwritten notes.

Some of these apps may be grouped together in future posts, but I’ll definitely be hitting the highlights in the next 4 or 5 posts. Stay tuned!

How I Work: Table of Contents

Being Productive Isn’t Enough

I geek out on a lot of things. The Office, App updates, Coldplay and Minecraft, just to name a few. But the topic that pulls on my heart and fills me with joy the most is productivity.

I would bet my most common Google search is “TOP TEN PRODUCTIVITY APPS FOR iOS“. I love studying and implementing new ways of being productive. Whether it’s apps like Mailbox and Any.DO, or techniques like Pomodoro, I have to take it all in.

Lately though, I’ve realized that even after the most productive day I feel like I forgot to do something. In fact, it’s on these days that I feel this way the most. These days usually consist of printing, cutting, folding, setting up and tearing down. So what am I missing?

Creativity.

I realized today that my day doesn’t feel complete if I haven’t honestly* spent time designing something new.

*By “honestly” I mean something that I take the time to passionately research and skillfully design. Like the bellow logo, which is my latest favorite.

Sadly I have a lot of things I could be spending this “honestly” time with, but I don’t have enough hours in the day, and that depresses me even more. The only thing worse than not doing anything creative in a day is doing something halfheartedly because you don’t have enough time to fully invest in it. I feel like a large part of my job is deciding what ministries or events get shafted.

So I’ll continue my productivity search until I find those extra hours in the day.

Being Productive Isn’t Enough

Tweets of the Week #2

I used to be on the parking team before running up on stage to play in the band. File this one under, “Things I wish I had read 10 years ago”.

ThomRainerSep 09, 6:01pm

We cannot know the impact of a prayer, of a kind word, or of a smile on those who come to our churches. bit.ly/14yltpd

 

Oh the feels…

ChurchOfficeSaySep 10, 9:57am

“Can you put __ in the church newsletter, please?” (It’s been in there for 3 weeks. Thanks for reading.)#WhyDoIBother#ExerciseInFutility

 

So super excited!

PressgramSep 10, 1:18pm

That’s all I needed to know. September 18th is when iOS 7 drops.

 

This one seriously hits home with me.

tonymorganliveSep 12, 7:57am

2 Common Complaints of Communications and Creative Arts Staff Members tmlive.us/15TWBcq

 

Apparently this one caused quite a stir, but I think it’s because people totally misinterpreted the meaning. We should all strive for the job that we would love doing to the point that we don’t want to take a vacation simply to get away from it.

JustinWiseSep 12, 9:32am via HootSuite

Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from. – Seth Godin

Tweets of the Week #2