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Remember the Milk

First Day with the New Workflow

by Dave on May 7, 2009

in Worky

Hearkening back to my post last week about how to best integrate an iPhone with an existing, primarily Microsoft-based work process – I think I may finally have it. And I say ‘finally’ because I’ve been hammering away at this like one of the Seven Dwarves ever since. This whole mess really deserves a graphic of some sort, but part of the new flow is that I start work promptly at 9am – so that will have to wait.

I get up at 7:30, shower, feed the dogs then 8-9 is for blogging, RSS feed reading and personal email. At 9am the whistle blows and currently I’ve got only 9 minutes to finish this post. If that sounds rigid it’s because it is – and I need it to be that way.

dopey-dwarfEmail: I’ve abandoned Outlook for Thunderbird – a free, open source and lightning-fast email client with many of the same features and none of the ridiculous loading or lag time. I’ll write more on all these new cogs in my workflow wheel later.

Calendar: Google Calendar was the hands-down winner due to the fact it’s compatible, or has a plugin, for just about every productivity application out there. It plays well with others.

Contacts: Still working this one through. I’d love it to be Thunderbird, but it’ll likely end up being Plaxo as I already have a well-worn account there and the import/export and networking features are slick. Ideally I’d like something that can sync comfortably back-and-forth with my iPhone.

Tasks: This is the discovery I’m really excited about, as I am a GTD disciple and list-making maniac. You name it and I’ve tried it – Remember the Milk, the native Outlook task list, SimpleGTD, etc. After my own painstaking research and reading about 100 blog posts on the subject there is a very clear winner: Toodledo. Thank goodness I found this wonderful site, its iPhone application, Google Calendar and FireFox plugins and iGoogle gadget. My task list nerdery will now know no bounds.

I’ll revisit this post throughout the day (but only during scheduled breaks for personal time, mind you!) and update you on how the new workflow is working out. Wish me luck, and if you feel a need to remark “Gee, Dave. I remember my first beer,” I’ll understand.

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In an attempt to better utilize my new Apple-flavored device for work-related tasks, I am attempting to transfer my email universe completely out of Outlook and into Gmail/Calendar. Last night I installed Remember the Milk on the phone and also added plugins for it to Gmail and GCalendar. This quad-fecta should conceivably connect my task list, calendar, email addresses, phone numbers, email accounts and all in a mobile-friendly manner.

juggleThere is, however, a problem. I’ve been using Outlook for over a decade and I’m having a really hard time envisioning GMail ever having the fanatical level of organization that I’m used to and require – lest I lose the plot, tear off my shirt and go sit at the end of my dock for the rest of the business day.

There are no folders. Filters can replace Outlook rules, but there are no folders to sort mail into. I don’t like the way the conversation threads have the most recent emails at the bottom of the page. Having all 7 of my frequently used email accounts aggregated into GMail should be convenient – but I don’t like having it all bundled together on the same screen – even with GMail’s “labels” attached to each separate account. Am I doomed to return to Microsoft’s diabolical fold? I’ve attempted similar transformations in the past.

Here’s what I’d like. Nay – what I’d love. Share your systems. We all have one. Especially if you use GMail. Share your personal processes and workflows here in the comments and list any online or application based tools you depend on to get the job done. How does everything talk to each other? Phone syncs? IMAP? POP? Let’s get it all out on the table. I’ll get the ball rolling with some specific items to address:

  1. What do you use for email?
  2. How do you manage your contact list?
  3. To what extent is your mobile device part of your workflow?
  4. What do you use for a calendar?
  5. Have you modified any of the above with plugins or addons?

Take it from there, if you dare. You’ll feel better, I’ll blatantly steal your best ideas and we may all learn something useful in the process. You make me want to be a more productive man.

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