Declutter: Organizing Work and Life

Declutter: Organizing Work and Life
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In my day-to-day work, I often try out different tools and methods for working with data. Sometimes, I spend a lot of time on a specific library exploring its in and out to achieve something for a project's requirements, and other times, I work on something quick. like just after a few hits and trials I would come to the conclusion that it won’t be helpful for a project. I noticed after a few months, I had forgotten the details of what I did. I might remember that I worked on certain approaches or certain libraries, but the specifics slipped away. So, I started using a notebook and pen to write things down, thinking it would help me stay organized. But I soon realized it had limitations, which I'll explain shortly. That's when I began looking for online tools to find a better way to manage my daily data tasks.

in the real world, there is a limited time even if you find work interesting and want to go further and beyond experimenting with a specific approach, there are deadlines, and within those deadlines, we need to provide value to clients, and stakeholders. with a certain clear task management system, you can plan your work well focus on the important stuff, and get through the effective work outputs. Task management isn't just about getting more work done it's about delivering exactly what is needed.

When it comes to managing tasks effectively, choosing the right task management tool is important. It's a decision that can greatly impact your productivity and organization. Initially, I found myself unsure about the essential features a task management tool should have. There's an abundance of options out there, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. However, clarity about your specific needs is key to making the right choice. After a lot of confusion, I identified my primary requirements:

  • I wanted to track what I did today, What issues I faced today how I resolved it, obviously not the whole story of a day but just the gist of it.

  • There should be a place where I can write about the task or work inside it so there should be a clear title that will help me ignore the clutter and focus on what's important

  • It should be customizable, if it's not honestly I can not work with an ugly-looking rigid UI where I can not change certain parts, atleast it should have a dark mode.

  • it should be user friendly should support some popular keyboard shortcuts and I should be able to add images or files easily.

  • finally, I should be able to export the data that I am going to store in a tool, I wouldn't like to marry an ecosystem because I have all my data tied up. (I am seriously not roasting Apple 😅)

Now, let's break down the options for task management tools into three major categories:

Classic Pen and Paper

Pen and paper can be an ultra simple and immediate way to write down tasks and ideas. It's accessible to anyone and doesn't require a learning curve. it's easy and also in our muscle memory from childhood, I personally feel this approach would work very well for journaling, but I have not tried journaling yet so not very certain.

However, when it comes to organizing and retrieving information, it falls short. Searching for specific details within pages of a notebook can be a tedious process, also storing those notebooks safely is a challenge.

but it does work for some people and they have their notebooks stored for years and it is a wonderful memory.

General Tools like Excel and Word

Software like Excel and Word are versatile and commonly used for various purposes, including task management. They offer more structure and organization compared to pen and paper. also, there is a feature in Word files that allows you to eliminate page breaks and write without interruptions.

However, they are not specifically designed for task management, still, many people use them for their day-to-day activities and some of their features are very good for collaborating in real-time with others.

Dedicated Task Management Tools

These tools are purpose-built for task management and often offer a comprehensive set of features that cater to the needs mentioned earlier. They are dedicated to providing an efficient and organized way to manage tasks, notes, bookmarks, and more. Many of them offer customization options, mobile apps, and automatic syncing, making them a powerful choice for individuals and teams looking to boost productivity.

However, it does come at a cost sometimes monthly or yearly subscription, and along with that it can be overwhelming, these tools provide a lot of features some of them are actually game changer and some of them steals our precious time, and we hardly use them in real, in fact in some cases working on these tools takes away time, which should have dedicated to something important.

Choosing the right task management tool for your needs is a decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. To help you make the best choice, consider factors that align with your work style, preferences, and specific requirements. Firstly, evaluate your workflow—are you someone who thrives on simplicity and prefers a pen-and-paper approach, or do you require the advanced features and organization that dedicated task management software offers? Next, think about your specific needs. To simplify your decision-making process, Here is a checklist or decision-making framework. decide your must-have features and your nice-to-have features, and assign priorities to each. Research and try out different tools that match your criteria and see which one resonates with you the most. Remember, the best tool for task management is the one that aligns perfectly with your unique work style and helps you stay organized and productive.

Here is a checklist for your consideration to make your decision a bit more easy,

  • Supports your operating system (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS).

  • Allows adding images, attachments, and links.

  • Ability to create tasks with due dates and priorities.

  • Supports task categorization and labels.

  • Offers task reminders and notifications.

  • Syncs data across devices (e.g., cloud sync).

  • Provides automatic backup and version history.

  • Powerful search functionality.

  • Tagging or folder organization.

  • Allows sharing notes and tasks with others.

  • Real-time collaborative editing (if necessary).

  • Ability to access and edit notes/tasks without an internet connection.

  • Strong encryption and data protection.

  • Two-factor authentication (2FA) support.

  • Integrates with other apps and services you use (e.g., Google Calendar).

  • Fits within your budget (consider any subscription costs).

  • Offers a free version or trial period.

  • Reliable customer support and resources (FAQs, tutorials).

Recently, I tried out several apps like Evernote, ClickUp, Notion, Microsoft To-Do, Todoist, Google Sheets, and Tick Tick for taking notes and managing tasks. While they all had their strengths, I wasn't entirely satisfied with any of them. Microsoft To-Do was nice and simple, and Tick Tick had some cool features, but I still felt something was missing.

Then, I gave Notion a shot, It was my last preference because I saw some YouTube videos that say it takes some time to learn and I felt like it is more useful for enterprise level, but I started watching some basic videos and it clicked for me, it didn't take much time and it is easy because there are a lot of people who already have created different templates for different use cases, I mostly prefer to modify them to keep it simple. I started using it for almost everything related to note-taking and organization. However, it's not perfect; using it on a phone can be a bit tricky, and reminders can sometimes be delayed. and most importantly it demands time to be comfortable with it, Despite these issues, Notion has become my go-to app for staying organized and productive. It's adaptable and helps me manage my tasks and ideas efficiently.

Do you feel you need one note-taking system? tell me more about it...

until next time :) Cheers!!

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