Add new comment

wnylibrarian's picture

Personal Productivity Challenge

Hello Interwebs,

I don't know when it happened -- I only know that it did. My schedule and the demands on my time suddenly went over the edge and out of control within recent years. I felt a challenge. I'm a librarian and I should be able to organize my own schedule better if nothing else. The older I get the less things I can commit to memory. It had become increasingly apparent a while back that I needed not just productivity apps but actually start using them.


As a result I issued myself a personal challenge: A year of productivity. Now let me properly define that. A year of productivity did not mean to post "x" number of blog posts or complete "z" amount of work around the house. It meant correlating the chores I already have. I had way too many moments that where I was sitting exhausted in a cushiony chair late in the evening, my bed calling me, that I suddenly realized I forgot to do something or call someone. Then I would swear.


So over the last 18 or 20 months (give or take) I have made a concerted effort to organize even the most simplest things. At times I might be abohored just how much my life now is run by Google Calendar, Google Tasks, and Tick Tick, but it has become a necessary evil. I don't know if others have also experienced a similar situation, but I've found that if I didn't have my phone as my personal assistant I don't know what I would do. In fact, I don't know how I even did it "back in the day" before smartphones were a common device. Perhaps life was just easier to manage many years ago? Maybe it was just as crazy then as it is now and we're just reliant on our phones to run our lives? How did our parents do it? I don't know. We only experience life in the moment. We can only address the problems we are facing today -- not past, not future.


I essentially juggle between three main apps:


1. Google Calendar

2. Google Tasks

3. Tick Tick

4. Google Notes Keep


1. Google Calendar []


Just about every appointment to every entry goes in here. It doesn't matter what. It's not just doctor's appointments or meetings for work or flight itinerary. It's everything. And I have multiple calendars. I have a private calendar (color red) for personal appointments. I have a family calendar that is shared with my Parents, and I have a work calendar for important meetings. My shared family calendar appears on my Parents' smartphone as well so they know where I might be at any given point in time in case they need to get a hold of me in an emergency. I'll even put grocery shopping on the family calendar because I'm blocking off the time for it. I'm doing "grocery shopping" on "this particular day" otherwise I'll get lazy enough to skip a day and then find I've run out of milk. By blocking off the time commits me to the event so that running out of items at home becomes a non issue.


2. Google Tasks (Now integrated with Google Calendar -- [] is no longer active.


Integrated with Google Calendar is Google Tasks. I use this in conjunction with Tick Tick [] to better manage To Do lists. They are both similar in their design but I use both for different reasons for different tasks. If I have a recurring task that I also want to show up on my calendar as a sort of meta reminder then I use Google Tasks. If I'm working on projects that are time sensitive, but I don't really have a need to have it displayed on my calendar, then I use Tick Tick. Google Tasks while it is very similar doesn't have some advance features such as "snooze" or 15 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hours, which is a nice feature by Tick Tick for those moments when I'm in the middle of something else. Yes, I still need to do this task, but it's okay if I snooze it for X amount of minutes and it'll still get done. Does it integrate with Google Calendar? It can -- for a price, but I've never purchased an app ever and I can't see myself breaking that policy. So therefore I'm relegated to using Tasks and Tick Tick in tandem.


3. Tick Tick [


As with the afore mentioned Google Tasks the app Tick Tick is a To Do app -- and a bit more polished. I highly recommend it and I also recommend using the Firefox (and Chrome?) browser extension to help managed the lists. Tick Tick can be said to be my primary To Do app, and it certainly runs my life perhaps more then Google Calendar. I have 3 primary lists in Tick Tick:


* Home

* Work

* Golf


As secretary of my golf league there are several tasks that need to be done in a calendar year, and Tick Tick allows me to create returring tasks but assign a specific end date where Google Tasks does not. Our primary months are May through the first week of October; so I don't want to use Tasks and have such items cluttering up the my calendar during the winter months. Tick Tick gives me that ability.


4. Google Notes Keep


This is my cheat sheet notebook, and an excellent option it offers is to be able to assign to and search for specific tags for specific groups of notes. Some of the tags are for home, work, and golf. They are by no means tasks or to do's, but rather scribbled notes. I keep track of the dates for my last oil change for example, and it's under an #automobile tag. I also keep track of the last time the brakes were swapped out. Were they front? Were they rear? Rotors replaced or pads? When did it happen? I don't need to get too extravagant spreadsheet or database. Just something I can search up quickly with minimal effort.


Notes Keep also has a reminder option, similar to Tasks and Tick Tick. I occasionally use it if I am in the app and sometimes for a location reminder. I need to pick up X and Y, but there's isn't a time table. Just the next time I'm at the grocery or drug store. Non-urgent type stuff. It's nice having the option there though for the odd items I need.


Do you have some favorite task management calendar apps? Feel free to leave in the comments below. I'm never wedded to any system or app if I find one that works better.