Friday, April 18, 2014

Digital Organization: How to Fit All of the Pieces Together

Time Management

Two decades ago, the solution for our busy lives was one book to house everything. Our calendar, to-do list, address book, and notes were in one place. The Franklin Planner and Day-Timer were the survival tools of that era. Many continue to reply on the one-book method for staying organized. For 10 years, I was a devoted Day-Timer user. The intrigue of being able to put it all in one place was great.

Today, many of us look to digital tools to organize out lives. My transformation came in 2001 when I traded my Day-Timer for a Palm and began syncing it to Outlook. Over the years, the specific tools have changed. The strategy has remained the same. I still need a place to house my calendar, to-do list, contacts, and notes. We can now add email to that list. Respectively, I achieve my aim through following tools:
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Contacts
  • ToodleDo
  • Evernote
  • Gmail
What if you could group these five elements of your productivity suite together? What if the entire set was always available anytime your browser was open? What if each one was only one click away at any time?

Take a look at the screen shot of a portion of my browser's toolbar:

organization


Just under the address bar, you see an icon representing each of the five parts of my productivity suite. Each one is a button. When clicked, that site opens. How did I create those buttons? The techniques is unbelievably simple.

First, be sure that you bookmarks toolbar is showing. Right-click somewhere on the toolbar and be sure there is a check beside the "Show bookmarks bar."

Next, you will go to each site, one at a time. Navigate to your Google Calendar, for example. Notice the URL in the address bar. Notice that just to the left of that URL is a small icon. In the example above, that icon looks like a blank piece of paper with a corner turned down. The look of that icon will vary according to the website, but you will always see some type of icon.

The trick is to click on that icon and drag it to the bookmarks toolbar. That's it! In just a few minutes, you can have a button for each part of your productivity suite.

What other buttons might you want to have? For me, I have the following additional buttons:

  • Toodledo Bookmarklet Clicking the link will take you to a blog post explaining what this does and why it's so handy.
  • TV Guide. I can see at glance what's coming on in my area. I have this button on the computer in my office.
  • Google Bookmarks. When I am reading an online article I want to add to my bookmarks, one click on this button brings up a box with the name of the site and URL completed. I can amend the information and adds tags and a description.
  • Blogger. When I want to compose a new blog post, one click takes me there.
  • Update website. When I acquire a new speaking engagement, I add the date to my website. I frequently makes small updates to the site, and the URL for where those updates are made is not one I can easily remember. With this button on my toolbar, I am one click away from being able to compose updates.
  • Feedly. Read the post on how Feedly is one of the major source of information to keep me on top of the subjects which are important to me.

In just a few minutes, you can have your own browser toolbar buttons. It's easy enough, you will actually do it!

Does anyone already have a helpful set of browser buttons? Let me know what you have.
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