I mentioned in January’s month in review post that I’d stopped using my bullet journal and moved to completely digital planning. I’m not going to get into why ( go here if you’re interested in that) but I would like to share my digital planning system with you in case it’s of use to other productivity geeks, planning enthusiasts or anyone wanting to introduce a little more organisation to their life.
Because I use a number of different apps and this could turn into a gigantic post very easily, I’m going to split it up into a three part series. The apps I’m going to talk about can be used alongside a paper planning system too, so if you don’t want to give up your bullet journal or Filofax, I’m definitely not telling you to do that.
- Digital planning, part 1: Google Calendar, Todoist and Clockwork Tomato
- Digital planning, part 2: Microsoft OneNote
- Digital planning, part 3: Google Keep, HabitBull and Fitbit
Let’s get going!
No matter what other planning system I’ve used at any given time, I’ve always had Google Calendar running alongside it. I love that it syncs between devices, so my calendar is always up to date and accessible on my laptop and my phone. I can access Google Calendar in my browser, through an app on Windows and through an Android app. I use ALL of them!
Being able to share calendars with other users is amazing too. My husband shares his work calendar with me so when I’m making appointments or planning things for both of us – from catching up with friends to doing grocery shopping together – I can see when he has a free afternoon or a day off.
The usefulness of sharing calendars doesn’t end there. I created a shared calendar for our finances. It shows our income and expenses so we’re both better able to figure out spending, saving and managing our money even when our schedules don’t give us much opportunity to sit down and look at accounts together.
My own calendar is a colour-coded delight, because of course it is. I have EVERYTHING on there – writing and editing projects, online volunteering, housework, socialising, appointments and lunar phases (witchy readers will understand that yes, I do need lunar phases on my calendar!). If I need to do something on a specific day but not at a specific time, I set it as an all-day appointment so it shows up at the top of the day.
One of my favourite things about Google Calendar is that it integrates with my new lover – Todoist.
Oh my gods, I cannot tell you how much I love Todoist! It’s a super fancy, but also incredibly intuitive and user friendly, to-do list that can sync across devices. It has a premium option and a business option, but I’ve been using the free plan and so far haven’t found anything lacking.
At its most simple, it’s a to-do list. You can add tasks, assign them a date and time (or not) and then tick them off when they’re done. But it can do SO MUCH MORE than that! For a start, you can see your inbox (unassigned tasks), today’s tasks and tasks for the next seven days at a glance. You can also assign tasks to different projects. The name ‘projects’ could easily be substituted with ‘categories’. I have projects for creative work, housework, stuff to do with our pets, which bins go out for collection on which days and a heap of other things. You don’t have to use projects, but you can and they’re awesome. And you can colour code them, if you’re the kind of person who needs that in their life (like me).
OK, so the best part of Todoist, in my opinion, is how it integrates with other apps. The only integration I’ve used so far (there’s a deep rabbit hole that I’m trying not to dive into just yet) is Google Calendar, but let me tell you – it’s a game changer. Seriously.
When you link Todoist with Google Calendar, all your calendar items appear in your Todoist as tasks. When you make tasks in Todoist and assign a date and/or time, they appear on your calendar. What this allows me to do is turn my phone on in the morning and see what tasks and appointments I have that day all in one place and at the same time. It sounds like a little thing but having that process pretty much automated (obviously I do still have to put those tasks and appointments onto my calendar or into Todoist) saves so much time and really helps me focus on now, rather than tomorrow or next week, without sacrificing effective longer-term planning.
The Pomodoro Technique is a method of time-management based on intervals separated by short breaks, kind of like interval training but for work. If you want to know more about it, Wikipedia has a good, clear explanation here.
Sure, you could use literally any timer, from a stopwatch app to a kitchen timer, but obviously I couldn’t resist the sleek, shiny, customisable one that Clockwork Tomato provides. I use it on my Android phone (it’s free) and I don’t think it’s currently available on iOS, but there are so many Pomodoro apps out there to choose from.
I fully recommend reading up on the Pomodoro Technique and giving it a go, no matter what other planning and productivity tools you’re using. If you tend towards the obsessive in your work (join the club), forget to take breaks from the screen until you realise you can’t see properly anymore, or don’t remember to stop what you’re doing until your stomach starts growling at you, Pomodoro intervals could be just the thing you need.
That’s it for today. I’ll be back on 23rd February with the second part of the series.