4 Tools for people with busy lives
Feb 15, 2017 - GROWTH
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Olivier Stapylton-Smith

Lately, I've had a lot of people ask me how I stay on top of things. To be honest, I'm not always on top of everything as I tend to live a pretty busy and packed life. Trying to maintain control across; my work (which is always going to be a factor in any professional career), my studies, charity work, time at the pool and spending time with family and friends is, at times, challenging and can be draining.

As such, I've tried to develop and learn ways to try to stay on top of as much as I possibly can (as well as trying to maintain my sanity). I wanted to share some of the ways that I try to stay productive.

1. Evernote

I believe that Evernote is one of the best, if not the best, note taking program I've come across. It's free to use and can be accessed across all your devices, with information synced across them in real time. As a serial note taker, I keep track of topics ranging from my work To Do list, events I want to buy tickets to and programs I want to watch. Sign Up for free here: https://evernote.com/

2. Bullet Journal System

Serial note takers like myself know it's important to understand what you should be doing as a result of your note taking. Are you supposed to take an action, follow up, ask someone a question or something else?

As their website states, the Bullet Journal system is "an analog system for the digital age that will help you organize the present, record the past, and plan for the future" (http://www.bulletjournal.com/). I've tried to learn and incorporate as much of this system as I can, but it's almost like learning a language, so I've learned the bits I find most useful on a day to day basis.  

3. Reminders

One of the most important things, in order to stay productive, is to follow up. Those close to me know I have a terrible memory, so I need to find ways to remind myself to follow up. I do this in two simple ways.

The first is that I email myself reminders with the topic in the headline, so it's there when I get to my laptop. I'll do this the second I remember something or when I'm with someone who thinks I'll forget to follow up. My memory still isn't great, but by follow-up, track record had increased substantially.

The second way is to set reminders for myself using the location services on my iPhone. A little-known feature in the iPhone is that you can set yourself reminders that pop up on your screen when you arrive or leave a particular location. For example, if I need to pick up product for a meeting when I'm leaving my house in the morning, I can set this up in my phone so that when I arrive within a particular proximity to work, my phone will remind me to pick it up. It's really easy to set up and can be done in a few steps here: http://mashable.com/2015/04/06/iphone-location-based-reminders/

4. Get onto IFTTT

IFTTT is a web-based service that allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called "recipes", which are triggered based on changes to other web services such as Gmail, Facebook, Instagram and Evernote. IFTTT is an abbreviation of "If This Then That" (pronounced like "gift" without the "g").

An example "recipe" might consist of sending an e-mail message if the IFTTT user tweets using a certain hashtag. Or, if the user is tagged by someone on Facebook, then that photo will be added to the user's cloud-based photo archive. One "recipe" I like to use is "Speak notes to Evernote using Siri and iOS Reminders".

To set this up, first create a reminders list called "Evernote" in your iOS Reminders app. Then tell Siri, "Add Evernote reminder [your note here]". This will create a new reminder in your Evernote list, which in turn will append the dictated message to a note in Evernote called "Siri Notes". Check them out here: https://ifttt.com/recipes.

I hope you found this interesting.

Much ‘work love’ legends.

Jx

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