Tools of the Trade

Recently I’ve been focused on doing my best to be productive. Sad isn’t it? I find with the limited hours in the day that I have to work on my various projects and what not, that in order to ensure that I’m able to get everything done, reviewing the processes and tools I use is a healthy exercise to do from time to time. Below is a list of links to the myriad of online tools that enable me to get crap done and a little background on how I use them.

  • Google Calendar – Everyone knows about the Google apps: Gmail, Reader etc. But the one that has been the most meaningful for me as been the Calendar. Not only am I able to manage my life in the calendar, but I’m able to pull in the data from my family and close friends. I cannot tell you how many “Hey are you busy Saturday?” phone calls have been saved through this simple data linking. Although it is dependent on the calendars of those people being updated and maintained, but if everyone in your world embraces the Calendar, it can be a super powerful tool.
  • Ta Da List – The folks over at 37Signals have been on to something for some time now. Clean, elegant and simple web apps that allow you to do a task and do it well. The simplicity of Ta Da List is almost poetic. The application is basically just a to-do list, or task list. You can create multiple lists and within each list you can add specific line items. This is great for capturing those nagging items that I remember I need to do and puts it somewhere where I can find it at work, home or anywhere I can get to a computer. They support RSS feeds of your lists, as well as the ability to e-mail the lists to yourself, but honestly, I don’t use those bits of functionality. Just the lists.
  • Moleskine Notebook – I know it’s a bit of an eye-roller to be a hipster and carry around one of these little notebooks, but I swear, it’s been a life-saver. The fact is that while I spent alot of time in front of a computer, it seems the times where the best ideas come to me or when I remember something important, I’m not near a computer. So when I’m on the train or subway, or at a show, or driving or what not, having this smal notebook and a pen with me has allowed me to capture those little bits, which often are the most important. The Hipster PDA is a great alternative if you can’t find or don’t want to buy a Moleskine

It all boils down to being able to see or capture the small bits of data that are crucial to completing whatever it is that I have to do. It could be work related (like “I need to write those functional requirements…”) or personal (“I need to buy more iced tea…”). When you think about the amount of data that passes through your brain on an average day, it can be staggering. I spent several years in on over-worked haze where it seemed like everything slipped through cracks. I’ve found that these 3 things have had a monumental effect in improving my productivity on a day to day basis.

Are there any simple tools that I’m not aware of or not using? There’s a web app called Stikkit, that I saw the product launch for at the Web 2.0 Summit last year, that is aimed at this idea of simple productivity improvements, but I haven’t been able to figure the damn thing out. It’s probably because I haven’t put that much time into it, but if an application is supposed to be simple, should I really have to put a lot of time into learning it?

2 thoughts on “Tools of the Trade

  1. as far as web 2.0 tools go you might want to give calgoo a try.

    ive been using it since it went beta and its been a solid tool. i can sync with my google cal, sync with my outlook, and import icals.

    they also update on a fairly regular basis so there tends to be new goodies to try out every couple months


  2. A notebook is definitely a great idea. I am always writing down reminders and ideas. Maybe one day I’ll invest in a PDA.

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