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I am going to start organizing chaos of tasks by Getting Things Done (GTD) in my life. For which I am reorganizing information that I need from time to time, for example:

  • Internet Banking Usernames/IDs
  • All my Card details (In case I need to call up a bank, I will need this info handy)
  • Utilities Customer IDs (Electricity, Water, Internet etc)
    • Track paid bills and unpaid bills (sometimes hard copy don't just come and I might miss paying them. Meaning to look for autopayment stuff but I don't think it exists here)
  • Insurance policies, tracking their renewal dates, or when I need to take some particular action with them
  • Different complaint numbers across services etc

I am wondering what would be a super effective way of keeping such information where it is easily & quickly retrievable.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Tools: I'm going to beat the crowd to the punch and suggest taking a look at Evernote. It's super available (desktop, web, iOS, Android, etc.); has a freemium model, so you can give it a good try-out before committing to any payments; and is flexible enough to store just about everything you mention.

(The exception to Evernote availability is Linux, which has only a fan-written client.)

The exception would be usernames and passwords. Evernote isn't encrypted enough to handle that. Try Keepass or Lastpass, instead.

Methodology: In Getting Things Done, David Allen talks about the importance of good filing. He suggests filing things under the first keyword that comes to mind for them. The advantage of Evernote, of course, if that you can use tags and tag an item with as many keywords as you need.

So, a simple set-up would be having a "Filing" notebook in Evernote and giving each item one or a few tags that says what it is, in a general sense. (I recommend going with as few tags as you can, to help keep things simple.) Be sure to give each note a good title, of course.

Evernote allows for hierarchal tags, so you can even put all of the filing related tags under a parent "filing" tag, to help keep the filing system separate from anything else you do in Evernote.

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I am aware of Evernote but how do I organize my information in notebooks? Can you suggest something so that it is as effective as it can be? Right now I don't see the goodness and its flexibility in saving such info efficiently. – Ashfame May 29 '12 at 5:07
Making it as short as possible. I have 3 notebooks. One is the default one where all new stuff goes in, I email stuff to my evernote and it goes in here. Everyday I go through the notes in this and sort them.Second notebook is my Doing notebook. All things I am currently working on. This includes things to read, projects I am working on, Errands etc. Third notebook is Cabinet which I use to store information I don't need to use but might need someday. Each note that goes into these 3 are tagged appropriately (examples..Work, Errands, Bills, Books, Movies, Fitness, Finance...and many many more) – SandeepR May 29 '12 at 7:14
@Ashfame Ah, I misunderstood what you were looking for. I've expanded my answer to include methodology. – Belisama May 30 '12 at 11:48
@Ashfame: I group the evernote notes into large groups like DIY, reference, work, blogging. Whats more important is to make sure that you will find them again via the search bar, so include tags. I also write a two sentence abstract in front of saved web articles which include crucial keywords. – 0x6d64 May 30 '12 at 13:50
I am using Springpad + Lastpass for the job, but yeah this answer is the one. – Ashfame Nov 11 '12 at 22:26

I'm using Keepass for all these tasks. None of the information you mention should ever be known to the provider an external service, so if you want to use such a service to share the information between different devices over a public network, you will have to keep them encrypted.

Keepass allows you to define categories for all the information you mentioned, and store the related information in an encrypted form. Since it's OpenSource, it's available for free for a multitude of devices and platforms, and it's up to you if you want to keep it local on your devices, and syncronize using your own means or file-copying, or if you want to place the storage file into some kind of cloud service, such as the popular Dropbox.

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I agree. All of the examples in the original question shouldn't be stored in a flat file or unencrypted container. I just want to mention 1Password as well. I used to be a Keepass fan but switched a few months back and haven't regretted it since. (It also supports Dropbox integration) – Chris Frazier May 31 '12 at 13:00
I haven't used 1Password, so I couldn't recommend it from personal experience. One of the main differences seems to be that 1Password is a commercial solution, while Keepass is OpenSource. Both schemes have their advocates, and it should be noted that OpenSource doesn't necessarily mean free, since some of the ports are marketed by individuals charging for them. – Tatjana Heuser May 31 '12 at 13:10
Have been using the KeePass (2.x version) + Dropbox sync combo for about 3 years now and it's incredible. My work computer, my 3 home computers, and my Android - all using the same KeePass database. Every time I hit that Ctrl+Alt+A while someone's watching my screen - something beautiful happens - and it has never failed to impress. – NoCatharsis Jun 5 '12 at 1:59

It seems to me you're trying to do two things:

  1. Store secure information (should really be encrypted)
  2. Remind yourself when you need to take action (belongs in a calendar)

There are tools out there which keep this information together all encrypted with their own reminder systems. These are mostly aimed at account-management departments, and are probably a bit OTT for personal use, so my recommendation is to use a password manager and calendar, any will do.

Personally, all my "account" information doesn't take up more than two pages, and I use locknote to store that. I use google calendar for reminders and dates. Every account already has a name (i.e. the name of the company or product), so it's easy to cross-reference the two.

Look at how many accounts you actually have that need action at set times, and how much time you actually spend managing all that despite it being split across two tools. You'll probably find the answer is not a lot, so you won't gain much from moving it from reasonably effective to "super effective".

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To answer your question on managing priorities with GTD principle I would suggest you following solution. As background, it is always a challenge to find right balance and choose the most critical tasks and avoid spending tons of time for rearranging. There is a tool that can help you with this named VisioTask. The product has just appeared and full of fresh ideas.

In the office I am using Outlook for emails, calendar. The tool is integrated with it and extends it with many useful features. There is very new way to show priorities by four bright distinct colors. All my key tasks are visible on one screen, so it is easy to see complete picture, compare tasks between each other, rearrange and find right sequence quickly without much time spend. All done with easy and colorful interface tools. Also, the tool supports intelligent emails sorting by tasks/projects for easy emails tracking and file linking to provide quick access to data. It makes organizing data easy and quick, frees my time and enables to concentrate on work in productive and efficient way. Check for yourself at site, you may find it useful for you as well. Trust it helps.

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Are you affiliated with the company? – Belisama Jun 2 '12 at 10:38
Well, I was in contact with the guys who designed it - I have given them feedback. Rather than that I am fan of this app. Why you ask? – Frontjer Jun 2 '12 at 16:14
Your writing style is very similar to that of the text on the website. – Belisama Jun 2 '12 at 23:14
@Belisama I was trying to make long story short and used summaries. So, yes, it may look like that. I am on managerial role for more then 15 years, it is key for me to manage many tasks effectively. So useful tool is always at hand. Just looked at your site. You seems is fond of use MFO, read your pros and cons of it. Quite interesting review. – Frontjer Jun 3 '12 at 6:10

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