Life is complicated and time is short, especially if you are someone who works hard and plays hard. Wasting a precious resource like your time can mean missing out on chances to grow professionally and engage socially, and let’s face it, managing the daily administrative tasks that accompany an ambitious lifestyle can be mind-numbingly boring!
For years I had tried to find the perfect productivity/planning tool to help keep me keep organized, on-task, and meet deadlines so I could focus on what’s really important in my life. I tried using many various tools such as:
- ‘To do’ lists – which I’d lose and extremely burdensome to transfer action items from one list to another.
- Outlook or Google tasks function - I would miss tasks because of it’s linear design (listing tasks as a list).
- Various types of planners (e.g. Day Runner, At-a-Glance, Franklin) which felt overwhelming because of the amount of daily and weekly maintenance I had to do.
- My calendar as a place to put my tasks but had so many action items, it really would clutter my calendar and I’d confuse what I should be doing with where I would supposed to be.
- Post-it® notes but would frequently lose the notes.
- A PalmPilot (they were called PDAs – Personal Data Assistants – yikes!). This tool was a step in the right direction but was not compatible with other technology. In fact, many people carried so many devices, they looked like they had Batman’s Utility Batbelt.
So you see, I tried many different tools and systems, and none of these seemed to work for me. Perhaps they may for you.
A few years ago, however, I finally found a tool that works perfectly for me and have developed a system that I have found to be extremely effective. I use a free, web-based tool called Remember the Milk (RTM). It truly lives up to its creator’s claim that “it makes managing tasks an enjoyable experience.” I use the site for everything I need to do and remember. Since I’m the only one with access to my RTM account, I use it for both personal and professional reasons, and I believe it’s the perfect tool for students and professionals.
It’s also very helpful in managing the one’s job search.
With RTM, I love the global view where I can see all of my projects. Here’s how easy it is: You create “Sections” that will organize tasks. For example, you can create a “Follow-Up” section where you can list people you need to connect with or a section titled “Job Postings” to help you keep track and follow-up with the jobs you apply to. Then, you list ”Tasks” under the “Section” heading where you can include a lot of useful data: due dates, notes, websites, tags, etc.
In addition to being able to be sent reminders via email, Twitter, Facebook, etc., an extremely helpful function of RTM is that it’s able to sync with your mobile device and with your Google calendar.
I use RTM particularly for tasks and use a calendar for is only two things: where I’m supposed to be, and what I’m supposed to be working on.
With all the organization/productivity tools I listed above, I have found Remember the Milk to be the most effective tool for me and, as I mentioned, have used it for years. Give it a try. It’s super easy and, more importantly, it will help you keep organized and productive!
Vic has a passion for working with students and professionals who are preparing to establish careers on a global stage. He has extensive experience in leadership, career and organizational development in both the public and private sectors. Currently, he is a career counselor and adjunct associate professor for the University of Minnesota Law School, where he provides career path, job search strategy, and life-work balance counseling for law students, alumni, and foreign-trained attorneys. He is also principal of Cygnus 360, a career development consultancy that helps career counselors, career services offices, and clients with their career needs which include creating their brands using social networking tools and other technology. Vic is currently serving on the board for the National Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP). He is a former board member for the Minnesota Career Development Association (MCDA), past president of the Minnesota Legal Career Professionals City Group, and former director of learning for the Minnesota Organization Development Network. You can follow Vic at Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.