Technology for forgetfulness
February 16, 2017 4:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm having some problems focusing and concentrating at work, and I know all they want is the job done.

For example Monday my supervisor asked me for two documents and I could not remember what they were. Barring something organic or med-related (I have appointments scheduled), please recommend technology to help me remember tasks and sequences. I have a long list of what I've tried. Anything I could use on my phone and/or computer.
posted by Prairie to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This is a pretty low tech solution since it works with a pen/paper too, but at the end of each day I simply make a list of things I need to do the next day (generally based on a revision of the previous day's list). I use google docs, but anything from a word document to a email sent to yourself will work.
posted by veery at 4:54 PM on February 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I use Trello to organize my to-do lists. I can add to it from my computer or phone. I have multiple lists for different categories and put them in the order I need to do them. I'm pretty terrible at this type of organization/planning, but it keeps me from going completely off the rails as long as I remember to use it (that's the hard part).

I also know some people who just put tasks on the calendar, at the time they want to do them (which gives you a strict sequencing). I find that clutters my calendar too much, but it's simple...
posted by primethyme at 5:03 PM on February 16, 2017

If you have Microsoft Office, OneNote is pretty good for checklists and brief process documentation.
posted by soelo at 6:29 PM on February 16, 2017

I'm a big fan of Google Keep.

Things I like:
-browser and phone app
-it supports photos and sketch and audio in addition to text
-checklist or freeform notes style
-color coding
-time or location based reminders for your notes
-easy to share notes with other people
-easy to re-order and re-organize
-reminders I've set show up on my calendar and in my inbox so I miss nothing
-everything is completely perfectly searchable

I discovered Keep probably about a year and a half ago now and I use it every single day. Multiple times per day. I put everything in it, from things I need to remember in 10 minutes to things I want to be able to find next year, shopping lists, stupid ideas for jokes, detailed to-do lists, you name it. I have a horribly crap memory for certain types of things and I rely on Keep hardcore.
posted by phunniemee at 6:46 PM on February 16, 2017

Not to be fatuous, but: Notepad?
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:24 PM on February 16, 2017

I use Asana + Google Drive.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:40 PM on February 16, 2017

+1 for Google Keep.

I'm so bad at this that remembering to put something in Keep is a sort of achievement.
I'm still waiting for the take things directly out of my brain and store them on my phone killer app but Keep will do in the meantime.
posted by fullerine at 11:43 PM on February 16, 2017

I use Todoist (I pay for premium, which has some features I find handy.) I drop stuff into the inbox on my phone, and do more complicated organising from the computer. Every morning, I pull it up, and I can look either at stuff I've flagged for that day, or go look at possible next steps in whatever projects I need. I also keep a running project list of things like "talk to my boss at our next biweekly meeting about this" and "stuff for the next library newsletter."

Paper and pen didn't work for me because people would stop and ask me stuff in the hallway on my way to the bathroom / get a soda / etc. and I'd forget the thing by the time I got back to my desk. My phone's always on me since it also acts as a pedometer. (Some people find index cards work well if you want something portable but analog - one index card a day plus a few for specific notes, plus a binder clip is sturdy enough to write on.)

The real trick for me was figuring out what I really needed in a tool. For me, my priorities can shift a lot (I'm a librarian, so 'reference question that just came in' usually gets priority over 'longer term project I might otherwise work on'. So one thing it turns out I really need is drag and drop moving stuff around or quick rescheduling (Todoist has an easy quick click through for postponing stuff that works for me.) You probably have different needs, but figuring out what they are, what will make it easy for you to use all the time, will help a lot in picking the best tool for you.
posted by modernhypatia at 4:54 AM on February 17, 2017

If you are stuck on Outlook at work, and get most of your tasks assigned/set up by email, try this triage system. It has worked well for me. My inbox was my to-do list by default, but stuff gets lost easily under new emails, so it's useful to have a system that will automatically pop an email back up to remind me to deal with it.

My current job also has us fill out "workload updates" every week, where we list our projects/tasks for the next week, our best estimate of time we'll spend on each one (over the week, not broken down by day), upcoming due dates, upcoming vacation, etc. It's chiefly for our managers, so they know who is booked up and who has availability for new tasks -- but it also really helps me keep track of my various tasks. It takes 15-30 minutes each week, and I usually do it on Friday evening or at home on Sunday. It would be hard to make myself do this if it weren't required, but it really does help to be forced to spend a few minutes thinking through my tasks and writing them down specifically enough to inform another person.
posted by snowmentality at 5:15 AM on February 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

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