This is a question about organization and task management. Long and snowflakey, harsh criticism allowed.
posted by TomMelee to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This might get long, I'll try to keep it brief.
The backstory is that I have a 17 month old little boy, a full time job, and a side job, and a fiancee who cannot ever miss work ever, and who is dealing with some health issues. So...I'm frazzled. Not stressed, just frazzled and forgetful.
I travel at least 1 day a week, somtimes as far as 400-600 miles in a day, usually closer to 250. I do a fun conglomeration of social work and construction management. These home visits require me to carry basic tools (tape, level, flashlight, knife, normally), as well as a large camera and paperwork. Sometimes I'm seeing one person, sometimes up to 5. I do have a laptop at my disposal.
One day a week I work from home. This day is only significant because I ALWAYS leave stuff @ the office. I am setup to VNC into my work computer whenever I need to.
The other days I'm in the office are often hectic, answering missed calls and sending program applications and pushing paper. I also do consultations and information requests...and run our IT department, such as it is. Two fullsize filing cabinets, two monitors, one main windows based PC, and a laptop. I've got a craptastic scanner, but it sucks. I do scan every contract/bid/etc as well as maintain the paper copy. I don't scan my applications.
My side job:
Is IT, individuals and non-profits and a few small offices. Requires me to carry normal IT tool-stuff, it all fits neatly into a special bag that's already set up. This part I mostly have under control except for the scheduling part. I'm right on the cusp of applying for a loan to make this my full time, self employed venture, but right now my inability to get to people fast enough worries me.
My normal day:
Get up, get munchkin ready, eat something, leave the house by 7:20. Drop off munchkin @ daycare as fast as possible. Drop fiancee at her office at ~8. (we commute...), get to my own office by about 8:15. Leave my office about 4:15, get her, then drive home. Our son goes to daycare in the town where we live because it's about 1/2 the price of where we work. We absolutely must get him by 6pm. Slightly altered on travel days, but this is the jist.
I've got great bags, plenty of hardware, and a good strong Android running ICS. I make decent use of the phone, but not excellent use. I carry an encrypted tiny flash drive on my keychain for necessary apps/documentation/etc.
Where I fail:
--Scheduling. I'm good at putting things in the calendar, I'm bad at saying "Sometime next week" and then not calling back.
--Individual tasks. I always forget little things...timesheets, expense reports, even miniscule things like "Grab my son's sippy cup when I get out of the car". I've got a location-specific tasks app on my phone, but I don't leave my GPS on so it's kind of coarse...maybe I need to leave my gps on. I HAVE google tasks...I just don't use it as I should.
--Paper. God paper. I generate multiple receipts per week, each must be expensed. I don't usually lose them, but I do often misplace them. How to keep them organized? I was taking pictures of them all for a while with the phone...
--Remembering to take things home/to work/to clients houses/home from any of those places.
--Billing. I have quickbooks, but...well, I suck with it. I know HOW to do everything, I just don't. This is an issue unto itself, wrt billing and who to charge what.
It looks like I'll be able to swing a scansnap this year with "extra" money, and I'm really moving toward encouraging my office to go paperless. Thanks to a HUD grant we HAVE to have an offsite data backup, so this is great. I'm not sure yet entirely how to go about this. I am making use of Lucion "FileCenter" software, and it's OK, but I think I'm underutilizing it.
I use personal gmail for myself and my business, syncs to phone. We also use google apps for business at my agency, again syncs to thunderbird and my phone. I maintain separate calendars for each. Not a big deal, but things like Tasks and Talk get muddled.
So...recommend me software, apps, binders, envelopes, life changes, etc., that can help me be better. I am AWESOME at my jobs, I'm just not awesome at managing them. Also and FWIW, I tried GTD's methods for folders and whatnot, but with SO MUCH digital and SO MUCH PAPER, it just doesn't work well for me.