Monday, December 19, 2011

My Personal Information Management System

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  1. Joshua,
    Thank you for this post. Most informative. It amazes me to think that there are well over a billion of us out here, all with very unique, distinct needs and a myriad of choices as to how we manage our own individual universes.

    I particularly like your flow chart and how you manage via the GTD methodology. May I have your permission to re-use your flowchart on my blog, and potentially in a future book? I will give you full credit.


  2. Hi Peter,

    Thanks for your response.

    That flowchart was taken from a paper I read by Francis Heylighen and Clément Vidal's, "Getting Things Done: The Science behind Stress-Free Productivity" available at

    I credited the authors of the chart in the article just before the image and included a link with a caption of their names.

    I thought it was a very good paper and it inspired me to write this article.

  3. Hi Joshua,

    I found your post on the GTD discussion forum. I have been trying to implement GTD and I have a question that may fall into your area of expertise since you have spent so much time figuring out how to organize your "stuff".

    Some of the "stuff" that I want to organize falls into a category like: "I want to be reminded of this next time I am in this situation but I don't want to think about it until then". For example, there is an immunization I want to remember to get the next time I am at my Doctor's office, but I don't have an appointment scheduled and I don't need one. The immunization is not so important that I want to go and make an appointment about it. I just want to remember it next time I am there. Or - I want to remember the next time I buy a household item, I want to remember to browse a certain store, but I don't know when the next time I will need a household item. Or, there is a good fact sheet on plant care, and I want to remember I have it next time I am caring for my plants, but I don't know when that will be.

    Do you have any recommendations about how to organize and remember this stuff at the right time?

    I think I will post this on the GTD forum also.


  4. Hi LB,

    Here is how I would handle your scenarios. Since I'm fairly used to looking at my Toodledo task list and it is easily accessible from my smartphone, I would put things that I want to be reminded about based on 'location' into the "out and about" context.

    This would not give me an automatic reminder (unless I set one up in Toodledo), but since I've trained myself to look at my "out and about" context before going places, the reminder would generally not fall through the cracks. As an example I currently have a 'Home Depot' task in that context and a few items in the task ntoes. I always seem to need something from there when I replace something in the house and what not, but most of the the time those needs are not immediate. So next time I go to Home Depot I wonder to myself what the heck do I need from there and bingo there is my list, with measurements, details and all

    As far as fact sheets and things with lots of details are concerned, I've learned to use smartphone pictures of things, which I can then zoom in on and read when I need them. As I mentioned in my article Evernote is somewhat new to me, but it will likely become my go to tool for this sort of thing. I currently just keep pics like this in my smartphone photo album and make a reference of the pic in my Toodledo task if I didn't think I would remember having it.

    Since for all the scenarious you describe I just have to look at my "out and about" context of tasks, this keeps the system simple enough for me to have it actually work. I'm sure there are apps to remind you of things based on your geo location, I've not taken that route as what I've got works for me.

    If you have trouble remembering to check your task list for this context before going out, you could try and set a recurring calendar reminder to go off before you head out for the day, planting the seed to turn this action into a habit. Once this practice affords you more productivity and frees your mind of mental burden it will likely become second nature.

    Thanks for commenting!

  5. Hi Joshua,

    Very useful article. Thanks for taking time and put together great info that you had defined over the years. Many of these ideas work for most of us who are on the same boat with the same needs.

    Thanks, Satheesh

  6. just found this... incredibly helpful. just started using TOODLEDO as it seemed to have a lot of the features i wanted... you have given me the inspiration to continue to use it at a higher level. and all your other great ideas... thanks again for spending the time to write this out.

    1. Thanks for your kind comments Southern Gal & Satheesh!!

      It is a real joy to know that some of the info I put together is of genuine use to people. I'm so glad I am helping to make a small difference for others. Your comments are a great source of inspiration!

  7. Excellent article! I use many of the tools you do, great to see how you tie everything together.

  8. Wow! This is an outstanding post and very interesting. Like you, I've been on a PIM/GTD journey for more than a few years, trialling and applying a range of software/systems as I've come across them. But I'm still trying to work out the solutions that work best for me and your insights are really helpful. Thanks.

  9. This post really helped me to learn some new things. So thanks a lot.

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