Ok, look. I’m really awesome at keeping track things. Here is my system.
You name it, I’ve tried it:
- Sticky notes
- Text files
- Excel Spreadsheets
- Phone apps
- PC Software
- Email tagging/folders
In the end, I always seem to come back to plain text files though.
Excel worked great for tracking things that need calculations: capital gains taxes, hour budgeting, etc.
Evernote worked decently enough for tracking all the emails, conversations and meetings I had once for a particularly big, 4-month long project.
Various android apps have always worked for me, but limited me to tracking via my phone.
To this day, I still catch myself leaving emails marked as unread to get to them later on.
All of those options put my tasks & lists in various proprietary formats, which I’ve always hated.
And then along came dropbox.
It was dropbox that sent me back to using text files again, due to it cross-platform portability.
Being a highly organized person, I tend to keep lists of things I want to get around to. Here are some of my most used:
- movies.txt - movies, by genre, I want to see eventually
- bands.txt - bands, by genre, to check out
- buy.txt - groceries, kayak stuff, shoes, office chairs, etc.
- games.txt - games I want to get around to playing eventually
- programming.txt - ever growing list of technologies to check out
With dropbox, these lists are accessible from my phone, work computers (Windows), and my home computer (Linux).
After coming back to text files for my todo list as well, I eventually discovered Todo.txt.
Todo.txt is basically an enhanced text file that allows prioritization & categorizing. There are Windows, Linux, iphone, and android apps available to work with it.
I mainly use this for work, to keep track of the maelstrom of tasks I have to manage. Todotxt.net is the amazing Windows client I’ve been using for that.
It allows adding, editing, deleting, and archiving of tasks, setting dates, reprioritizing and other such tasks with simple keyboard commands.
When marking a task as completed, it auto-archives it to a done.txt file.
Todo.txt uses letters to set priorities. I don’t use all 26 letters in the alphabet, just the first five with the following meanings:
- A - tasks I want to get to today
- B - tasks I will do tomorrow
- C - tasks I want to get to this week
- D - tasks in the near future for next week
- E - all other tasks
When I Don’t Use Text Files
There’s two files I have not managed to replace with text files, because they use the calculation feature in spreadsheet programs.
One is a spreadsheet for auto repair tracking, with a list of repairs on the Y axis, and 3k mile intervals on the x axis. The mile intervals is what calculates automatically.
The other is a camping spreadsheet, which contains every camping item I own, with its weight, to make it easy to calculate base/pack/food weight when deciding what to bring camping/backpacking.