A few of you might know that I'm intrigued by lifehacks and time management. It's not that I'm organized (I can hear my mother roaring with laughter at this suggestion) in the least; it's that using certain tools allows me to be disorganized without harming my productivity. Here's my current roundup; I'd love to hear what other people are doing. (I'm sure I'll repost a variant on this every couple years.)

  1. Getting Things Done by David Allen - rapidly becoming a classic in the life-management field. A generic, tool-independent framework for thinking about how you take care of things you've got to do.
  2. Time Management for System Administrators by Tom Limoncelli - almost like a geek's study manual to the first book. As mentioned above, one of GTD's strengths is that it's not domain specific; one of this book's strengths is that it is. It even uses geek metaphors to explain things (if you've thought of your brain as having "extra cycles" or being "low on RAM, " read this).
  3. Hiveminder, my latest pick for a to-do list application. Note that I'm still in "trial mode" and switch todo lists like I change my socks; we'll see where I finally settle down (re-ping me in 5 years on this). Previous addictions include Netvibes and todo.txt, but Hiveminder is basically todo.txt online where I can't lose it. GTDgmail didn't catch on with me for some reason. Later on I'd like to see if I can set up a sync between Hiveminder and a todo.txt installation on my PDA - this assumes I'll get a PDA, though. (PDA currently deferred due to lack of funding. Maybe it'll be my 21st birthday present to myself.)
  4. Notebook - that is to say my Moleskine Cahier, which I love. They're the cheapest kinds of moleskines you can get, lovely and portable; nice enough that I enjoy doodling in them, and cheap enough that I'll actually haul them around without guilt that I'm "messing them up." I keep a post-it on the last page I "braindumped" (I sync my sketchbook to my laptop to-do list - in this case, Hiveminder - every night) and a pen on the currently blank page so it always opens up to the right location for writing in.

I need to find a better solution for...

  1. My laptop. It's getting big, bulky, and annoying to tote, especially since I can't close the lid without having it crash any more (and yes, I've been to IT and gotten practically all its parts replaced by now.) I need something digital that I can take around and type notes into, since I type (coherent things) much more rapidly than I speak sometimes even - I'm thinking a PDA and one of those bluetooth foldy-keyboard things, one in each pocket, but we'll wait for the funding to build up first. In the meantime, I'm trying to wean myself off Windows and onto my old Powerbook for daily use. At least that won't crash when I close the cover.
  2. My calendar. It's complex and varies enough from day to day that I can't remember it, and task-switching is frequent enough that I need something to remind me that I should be walking towards my next meeting. This means that unless I have a functional laptop next to me running Outlook and making little beeps, I have no idea where I should be, leading to the all too common scenario of Mel being late. Must... find... solution.

A final word: going meta and thinking about time management is great, but iif you're starting to spend more time managing your time management stuff than actually doing the things you're supposed to do, it's gone too far. Moderation in all things. Speaking of which, I should take my own advice, stop writing this, and go for dinner.