Whittling Down The Options

Spinning off from yesterday’s entry, this entry will focus exclusively on figuring out how the heck to simplify my systems.

First off, the Getting Things Done (GTD) primary application. Right now I have two choices, Things (which also syncs with an iPhone application) and The Hit List (which, as of yet, does not). I had originally gone with Things because it seemed simpler and had the iPhone app ready to go. The Hit List, while still not released officially, is available for pre-order, and I picked it up with the latest Macheist bundle. The Hit List always looked like it would be one of those crunch programs that I would play with more than I would actually use and I thought the lack of an iPhone app would be a real limitation. But it turns out the limitations, so far, have been with Things. I can’t figure a way to sync Things with iCal without dumping all activities under one calendar instead of multiple calendars. That means that if I want to use iCal, I have to put all that stuff in manually. That doesn’t seem like much, but Things doesn’t have a handy calendar sheet, which means I’m using iCal anyways. Beyond that, I can’t break a project into sub-projects — that is, unless I break everything into fully-fledged projects on their own and that doesn’t seem to suit my brain’s natural inclinations.

But beyond that, while I’ve tried and tried to use Things, I just can’t seem to get into the swing of using it.

Not giving up entirely on it, but if it’s not working I will try something else. For the month of June it’s the Hit List all the way. Not only can you create sub-categories within one project but it also appears to (I haven’t tested it yet) sync more intelligently to iCal, so while I don’t (yet) have an iPhone app for it, at least iCal won’t be rendered useless.

A further complication — I work for Luddites. We’re not allowed to have our phones out on the production floor. The reasons for this depends on the whims of the manager that day and vary from, “They interfere with the VoIP phone system we use,” to “To prevent our customers from fraud,” to “To make sure your attention is fully on the call,” and to “You’re not a Supervisor.” Considering that these are all, in order of objections, either impossible, doable with pen and paper, no real reason if your on your break, and infuriatingly selective. It is weakly enforced depending on who is on the floor, but basically it means that all the other reasons I might use the phone, even when the phone is in Airport mode, like for making a note or checking my electronic day planner, would get me in trouble. So until I change jobs, I can’t go fully electronic. Nor do I want to commit to only paper.

That means I get to, need to, keep both mini-Moleskines, one for story ideas and one for the day planner. The day planner will be something I need to update regularly, and I think I will keep it more for a writing journal as well, noting what I worked on and how many words I wrote. I am retiring the wall-calendar. It was a great idea, but I was duplicating the data in three places – my day planner, the Numbers document and the wall calendar . I need two of these; the third will go.

But for electronic notes? I will just have to temporarily keep using both MacJournal and Evernote. MacJournal has to stay – I have about 1,200 entries, over 600 for the Blog alone (it covers entries going back to 2002 — eek!) and allows me to write for the blog without being online. I keep all the weird, cool things that I find on the internet and from RSS feeds. Evernote, meanwhile, is the only program so far that allows free, on-the-go note-taking when I either don’t want to or don’t have access to paper and pen, and lets me take photos and voice recordings to a maximum limit per month before I would need to upgrade to a monthly fee. My 1,200 entries would crush that. I just keep forgetting to use it and wish that it would seamless sync to MacJournal. Oh well. If I change the sort of notes I take with it, I think it will help. It’s too convenient to not use and, after I started keeping tabs on the Evernote Blog, I’m getting some ideas on what else I can do with Evernote that would be damned handy. Not writing stuff, just life stuff. And if I pull the writing notes into MacJournal on a regular basis I can try to keep the two programs separate.

Wow. So did I simplify there? I think so. Perhaps it’s like when they suggest to people who have trouble sleeping at night to not read or watching TV while in bed, to save it only for sleeping. By limiting the tasks exclusively to certain tools it will help me not worry about what I could, should, would be using.

PS: Got my words in today and I finished Scott Sigler’s Infected. Ooh, squicky, but good! Really needs to be movie – an R-rated, gore-glory blowout. Tomorrow I configure the Hit List, continue working on the First Draft outline, and finish a critique for a Hypergraphic member. And write – either on Spirit Cat or that short story bouncing around in here. Gotta do that soon before the energy for it fades away.

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