Thursday, February 19, 2009

How I'm Staying Organized in 2009

I'm definitely not a Microsoft product fan but this year I've actually come to use and love one of their products - OneNote.

Basically OneNote works like a notebook. You can create Section, Section Groups, Pages and Subpages. You can add links, copy webpages, audio, video - basically whatever you want in there.

My computer desktop used to be a mess. I used to add shortcuts to webpages I wanted to go back to, would download files to the desktop, have folders for things I was working on there. Basically all the "stuff" I didn't want to forget about went on my desktop. Needless to say that over time it made it impossible to find what I needed (defeating the purpose of putting it there) and it also would slow down my computer.

At the start of 2009, I decided to start using OneNote instead of my desktop. I'm actually putting files in proper folders now and am no longer saving shortcuts. Everything is going in OneNote instead. I'm not only able to find things quickly, but I'm also saving time AND getting things done.

I'll share the way I am using it. Maybe it can give you some ideas:

* I created a new OneNote called Projects. This is my default one so that whenever I open up OneNote, it will open where ever I was last in Projects.

* I have a section called "To Do's". Within this section, I have a page called "Timed". This is where I put all upcoming appointments. I have a page called "Miscellaneous" where I just dump stuff in that I need to get done at some point and don't have a time/date for it yet. I then have a bunch of sub-pages - one for each day of the week. On these sub-pages, I create mini areas where I group everything I need to do by category. For example, I have one category for "Financial", another for "Domains" etc. This allows me to move a full category forward to another day or just individual tasks if need be. When I am waiting on something from someone else, I will highlight the item. I also drop links in for sites I want to go back and check into a relevant area.

* I have a section called "Staff". On the main page, I keep a summary status page so I know anything major going on with individual people. One look at that a day tends to be sufficient. I then have a page on each person where I keep a general log of communications. This is linked to from the summary page.

* I have Section Groups for Domains, B2B websites, Websites and Ideas. Within each Section Group, I have a section for each site/area. The main page for each site/area will give a snapshot look - often providing a timeline. On a weekly basis, I do a quick revision of each section and make sure the relevant tasks are linked to from my daily planners. Typically when I get one thing done from my daily planner, I'll then add the next item. But the weekly recap helps me make sure that things that get dumped in there for future reference don't get "lost". The Ideas section is a great way for me to organize ideas I have that aren't close to being actually worked on. I typically will dump in relevant research links, links on my computer to documents I've downloaded, contacts etc in the appropriate section.

Internally, we're still using Central Desktop accounts. I'll share more about how we are using this at another time. Although Central Desktop is a great tool & I wouldn't want to be without it for collaboration purposes, for the variety of things I need to get done/stay on top of, it was just taking too much time for it to be efficient.