PP5: Appointments, tasks and information – Using the right tool for the job

(Part of the series: 12 Favorite Productivity Principles)

5. Appointments, tasks and information – Using the right tool for the job

Most of us use a calendar and some type of to-do list to help us keep on track. But we don’t always use them in the most effective way. We put tasks on our calendars and spread our to-do lists over several different mediums (sticky notes on the desk, miscellaneous sheets of paper, even our email inbox!). And then where do we put all the information that we need to store (things like future vacation spots, registration numbers, AC filter sizes, etc.)?

The key is to use the right tool for the job. You wouldn’t try to cut down a tree with a hammer, and you wouldn’t hammer a nail with a saw.

Here’s the general principle: 1) Use your calendar for appointments and reminders; 2) Use a task management tool for projects and tasks; and 3) Use an information tool to store and access information. Keep these tools separate and do not overlap. Don’t put tasks on your calendar, and don’t store information in your to-do list.

I like to use electronic tools that sync across all my devices. I use Google Calendar for appointments and reminders. I use Todoist for projects and tasks. And I use Evernote for storing and accessing information.

You may prefer a paper calendar or day planner or a different set of tools, but either way I suggest you choose three different tools to deal with these three very different types of information. Use the right tool for the job!

Note: The best resource I’ve found on how to use these different tools and integrate them together is the book, Do More Better, by Tim Challies. Tim has done a great job showing how to set up these tools so that they integrate with each other and with the various roles and responsibilities in your life.

Next in series: PP6: Task processing – One thing at a time (micro-tasking)

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