I figured since everyone else is doing a Getting Things Done (GTD) post, I would do one as well which describes how I manage getting things done. School, especially this semester, keeps me quite busy and keeping track of my schedule (meetings, hockey games, classes, etc) is quite a challenge. In the past I have just used my memory and some scraps of paper to keep my schedule and to do lists; however, with the advance of web 2.0 technologies and websites, I have found them to be quite useful in managing my life. In this post I will describe how I use each to keep track of everything and make it really easy to use.
First is Firefox. If you are already using Firefox, good. If you are not using Firefox, why not?! Go download and install it now…
Next up is Google. I use Google for their search, but they also have some other very useful web applications. The first Google product is GMail. I use GMail for all of my email now. My school address (@vt.edu) is forward to GMail and I have GMail setup so that I can send email on behalf of my school address. Of course it also manages my GMail address. To keep track of email sent to my VT address, it is automatically labeled with a “VT” label. There are some other labels that I have setup to manage emails even further. One example would be “RHCVT” which is applied to any email dealing with the roller hockey league…
In addition to GMail, I use Google Calendar to keep track of my schedule. You can view the public version of my calendar here. Google Calendar is very useful in managing my schedule. Items can be quickly and easily added. One feature that I use a lot for important events is reminders; Google Calendar can send you a text message a predetermined time ahead of the even to remind you of that event which is handy so you do not forget about an event while away from your computer. Also as a daily reminder, Google Calendar emails me a daily agenda as of that morning which is a good way to review what I have to do for the day. You can also manage multiple calendars. For example I have a calendar for the roller hockey league which has all of the games on it. I also have a calendar for BGW and WCUSA which have their operating hours. In addition I can also view others calendars. I have the school academic calendar loaded along with the VT Linux/Unix User Group’s calendar so I can keep track of the meetings. The Pittsburgh Penguins schedule is also another very important calendar to follow and is easily done by searching public calendars for the penguins schedule so I did not have to enter the schedule manually.
The final Google product that is a main stay in my browser is Google Reader. Google Reader allows me to follow many websites with out having to go to each page individually via RSS feeds. Currently I am subscribed to 163 feed in which over the past 30 days I have read over 13,000 items… Reader saves A LOT of time… and it gives me something to do when I am bored… with 163 subscriptions there is usually something of interest in there at any given time… The time Reader saves me allows me to spend that time on other things, like projects and homework so I can get things done
Remember the Milk, the only non-Google main stay in my tabs, is what I use for keeping track of my to do list. Its pretty slick. Has a nice interface. One of my favorite thing about it is the ability to use the keyboard to navigate the site (I use keyboard shortcuts a lot in Google’s products above too). For example, need to add a task? Just hit ‘t’ and a new task is simply added. Set a due date? ‘d’… Complete a task? ‘c’ will do that for you. And my favorite, postpone a due date, ‘p’. It is really handy at keeping track of what assignments I have to do and when they are due. It actually helps me plan ahead and work on some stuff ahead of time so I do not have to rush and do three assignments the night before they are all due. Not only do I use it to keep track of assignments, I also use it to keep track of my grocery shopping list. Items are easily added so if I am at class and think of something I can add it right then and there. When I head to the store, I simply just print off the list and check off what I buy.
Since I have these four websites open all the time in Firefox, I have found some handy Firefox extension to help manage them.
The first is PermaTabs. PermaTabs take a tab in Firefox and make it permanent so it can not be closed and it will automatically open the next time Firefox is started. It makes it easy to keep the tabs in the same order and always have them open. Each of the above have their own permanent tab.
The second is FaviconizeTab. This Firefox extension reduces the tab size down to the favicon and makes the tabs a bit easier to manage and gives me more room for other tabs that are open. The picture below shows the four permanent, faviconsized tabs as well as another tab open to edit this post.
The first tab from the left is google reader. Next is Google Calendar. Then Remember the Milk. And finally GMail. Following those tabs are any additional tabs that I open..
Each product above has more features than I explained here. I just went over the main features that I use on a daily basis to get things done…