Over the last week, I’ve discovered two new web tools that I’m pretty excited about: I Want Sandy and Jott. I hadn’t heard of either of them until recently, but I’ve been using them both for a few days, and I’m hooked.
Before I explain why, I should go into a little detail about the way that I work. It will also help you to know that one of my main goals in life is never to forget to do a single thing. It’s a sickness, trust me.
I tend to have a lot of projects going at one time. Every week, I attend a lot of meetings and am on a lot of conference calls–sometimes, I spend so much time going to meetings that I literally don’t have any time to do work in between the meetings. I’m often out of my office–it’s a rare week that I’m in the office all five days–and I do a lot of driving around.
Over time, I’ve developed a system for managing my work that goes like this: in every meeting, as I’m taking notes, I make a big circle in my notebook around any task that I either have to do myself, or that I have to make sure someone else does. Every Monday morning, I spend an hour going through my notebook and capturing all the tasks from the past week, and then going through all of my email from the previous week (which usually number several hundred) to see just what exactly I need to do that week. I write it all on an enormous pad, and I re-write whatever is carried over from the previous week.
I used to try to categorize all the different tasks by project, but I decided it was taking too much time to categorize tasks into specific work projects. There are non-work categories on my to-do list (‘personal,’ ‘PTA,’ etc.), but all the work tasks are just lumped into one big list (with one exception–the work I’m planning to do related to the 2008 election).
Like I said, it’s a sickness.
So why are Jott & I Want Sandy so great?
The way they work–and work together–is amazing. With I Want Sandy, it’s very easy to email yourself reminders of particular tasks or appointments. If I’m at a meeting out of the office, I can just blackberry myself a reminder of the things I need to do at the meeting. I’ve set the emails up to go to my Gmail account, and I label them “todo,” so I can sort them easily on Monday morning. If I’m driving and on a conference call (and yes, that happens way more frequently than I’d like), after the call is over, I can call Jott, and leave myself a message that gets sent to Sandy–which then emails it to me. The voice recognition software isn’t perfect–earlier today, I left myself a message about ‘gloves and mittens,’ that was interpreted as ‘gloves and wind?’–but I suspect that as I get more used to it, I’ll be more clear in my speech.
I doubt that my goal of completing every task is achievable–but using web tools like these gives me a better-than-average chance. Either that, or it just makes trying more fun.