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At work I've been using the Pomodoro technique. I use just an MS Word document to keep track of my backlog for the day, and a three column table (time, to do, notes) to move these tasks into the current Pomodoro slot; I use the strikethrough format to cross things out as they get done.

As new tasks arise, I add them to the backlog. I also use Sticky Notes (MS software) to keep track of bigger, or less immediate tasks that aren't necessarily going to be done that day.

What I find especially useful about this technique is keeping focus - if I ever need reminding 'What am I doing again' - I just look at the backlog.

The question - how can I employ a similar technique for my personal projects at home? The main complication for personal tasks, is that often I'm not at my home computer when I think of the task that needs to be done. I'm often at work, or out and about.

What I've currently got, is a notepad type app on my phone (Galaxy Note II - has a stylus) that I can use to write down tasks when I'm out and about. But then there's the question of reconciling this with my home PC.

What do other people do?

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maybe dropbox on usb if at work.. I tend to work from home though. Re phone, it's tough, I have issues with it You can get a keyboard for it and type easily on it but on my android phone, if I select text e.g. to copy to clipboard, then I hit the wrong key on the phone's screen keyboard, and it deletes it all, then I need to find the undo option, and if I hit the back option on the phone, it saves it and file is wiped. dropbox is an android app too. but currently I prefer to just view documents and if making a change, I start a new file called ADDTOblahfile and type in there. –  barlop Nov 17 '13 at 14:00
    
that ADDtoblahfile file, will be on my computer at home, but done on my phone. via dropbox. I don't know that that's a great solution.. There are Word apps, too. I have two types on my phone. As well as dropbox. Those are just things to think about. –  barlop Nov 17 '13 at 14:03
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6 Answers

I keep a small notebook and pen in my pocket, and write things there for later.

I'm a GTD user, with intermittent Pomodoro within that when I need finer control. In GTD terms, you're asking about "Capture", how to get ideas and thoughts into your system for future processing.

I've tried a number of different approaches, from various electronic tools (word doc, outlook tasks, remember the milk, evernote, email) to paper. What has been most successful overall is a small (3"x5" at most) notebook that I keep in my pocket, along with a small pen. When I have a thought, I write it down. If I'm at my desk, I have a notepad next to my computer that serves the same purpose. Periodically, at least once a day, I transfer everything from the notebook and/or notepad into my tracking system. The details of how I do that transfer are GTD "Process" and "Organize", which may or may not be useful to you.

The long-term advantage of the notebook-in-pocket approach is that it is always with me. That helps build the habit of writing in it, and doesn't have any reliance on the technology of the moment. I can (and have) changed handheld devices, tablets, software, how I tag tasks, or anything else about my productivity system, and that notebook remains constant.

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I had this exact same problem, and solved it by entering every task into Google Calendar...not as a TASK, but as an appointment. This keeps me on task, but as priorities change, I can easily move appointments between days as needed. It becomes an agile calendar. Beause of the layout of google cal, Saturday becomes my "backlog". I just dump stuff there if I can't immediately reschedule or delete it.

A very detailed explanation of how I use the tools was in this answer, and I'd be happy to clarify anything that may be specific to your scenario. I've been doing this for about two years, and the auto sync between my phone and google cal has been invaluable to keeping me on task. I know that an update on one device automatically syncs to the other, so if I add specific grocery items to my "Go Grovery Shopping" appointment, in the office, the list is on my phone in the store.

I've also found that color coding helps me a great deal. I freelance and also work on projects that are related to my freelance work, but produce no income. It's amazing how easy it is to prioritize tasks when bright green (a task that generates income) shows up on the schedule.

Let me know if you have questions.

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Your three-column document could be nicely replicated with the Trello Android or web app (from Stack Exchange founder Joel Spolsky's company) on your Galaxy Note, and then use the web app on your home PC, so all your data will always be with you. Or Google Drive's word processing or spreadsheet app?

Really though, many mobile syncing task management/note-taking apps with a desktop or web component could do the trick if you're not married to the three-column layout. I personally love Simplenote for plaintext, syncing to their web/mobile apps and nvALT/ResophNotes on desktop.

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I had a similar problem, in that I wanted to track personal tasks and projects (following GTD) but have a number of environments and devices, and wanted to be able always have access to my tasks and project lists. I settled on using the free version of Evernote - which is great note-taking app and an ok (in my opinion) task/list management app. But the killer feature for me is that Evernote runs on every device I have - there is an iOS app, an Android app, a Windows desktop client and a web interface. The tagging functionality allows you to add items to any list (if you want GTD-style @home, @office, etc) and easily move items between lists. And of course, you can use this for generally adding and storing notes, etc. (The product has a ton of other features, which was actually a bit of a turn-off initially for me, as I really just wanted a simple list app which would run on every device - but I have since become hooked on the product, and end up using it for generally storing reference information, etc)

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I suggest personal kanban method by Jim Benson (see his blog and books). For me this the best way to keep track of my work. I have a personal kanban board at home - simply a small whiteboard with sticky notes on my wall. I helps me to:

  • visualize the work in progress and things that need to be done
  • become motivated
  • see how efficiently I work

Recently I started to use some web-based and mobile applications that offer virtual kanban boards that I can share to my co-workers or family members. So far my favorite solution is Kanban Tool.

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I recommend a combination of a couple of things already mentioned:

  1. Keep a small notebook and pen on your person at all times. This is just a good habit in general, as far as I am concerned, and is almost always a quicker and lower overhead way of capturing bits and bobs than my phone or other portable device.

  2. At home, a physical or virtual Kanban-style board. I say "Kanban-style" not just Kanban because I believe in adapting systems to one's own needs. I use a simple three-column whiteboard on my wall at home...I used to use Trello (since I always have some kind of computer or device open, even if just for playing music or netflix or whatever).

It's part of my routine to take a few minutes to update the board at least twice a day: when I get home from work and before bed. I often find I have things to add in the morning...but it doesn't hurt anything for the tasks and ideas to live in my pocket notebook for a while.

And the notebook is, I find, a help for the opposite need: ideas about work that come to me while I'm at home!

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