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polycarpo

productivity How to reduce the number of apps used for organization and productivity?

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Nowadays we rely very much on apps for our organization and productivity.

Often, our cyberlife include social media and social network.

The possibility of Tools Integration is great, but at the risk of creating a clutter which will bring us back to a chaos.

Evernote gives us a nice chance of reducing the number of apps envolved in our organization and productivity efforts.

I'd like to know what You people are doing to cope with the need of being organized and productive without falling in a cybermess. 

Every insight and contribution to the discussion of this topic is wellcome.

Thanks in advance,

polycarpo

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Hi Polycarpo and welcome to the forum,

 

A very interesting question and I look forward to seeing others answers.

 

In my business I have 15,000 customers. This is too many to use Evernote as a contact manager and I have data on the customers going back to 1996, every telephone call, letter, email, fax and quotation.

 

What I have done though is to use Evernote as a diary. Every day I start a new Note within a Notebook called 'Diary 2013'. As inquiries come in they are typed into the days Note and any work carried out in terms of discussing with the customer, supplier or internally is included. A tick box is added and once the task is complete the box is 'ticked'. Once all of a days tick boxes are complete the Note goes into a Notebook called 'Diary 2013 Completed'. Any email inquiries that arrive in Outlook and I click on a 'Quick Step' that I have created in Outlook, which send the email automatically to the Notebook 'Diary 2013'. Then as above once the task is complete the Note gets moved to the completed Notebook.

 

As quotations are created in Word they are saved automatically to a Notebook called 'Word 2013'. Every year these are put in an archive Notebook.

 

When an order arrives, all accounts has to do is click on the 'Business' section of Evernote and search for the quote number. Two Notes will be shown, one which is the Diary Note and one which contains the Word document. Accounts then annotates against the Note that contains the Word document, the date, our order reference and the customer order reference.

 

Based on this we can easily search for how quotations were created, with all the necessary figures, we can also search for our order numbers and the customer order numbers if they want to back order something in the future.

 

This means I use my CRM - Maximizer for storing customer details - address etc, but all the relevant data is now available on any platform via Evernote allowing us to search on the road or if we are on holiday, in the RV or even the other side of the world! Anyway, you get the idea.

 

It also means we don't need to print off quotations anymore which saves time and money when trying to archive and copy the quote into an order file.

 

So basically we have 'cleaned' up our cyber mess and made our workflow smooth and easy to deal with, with all data accessible by everyone.

 

I have also streamlined my 'personal' data by scanning every important document as it arrives. I can do this on the road with my Doxie or at my desk with the ScanSnap.

 

I guess the only link I really need is one to my diary. At the moment all diary information is added in Maximizer. This automatically links to Outlook, which in turn automatically links to Google Calendar, which automatically links to our diaries on our phones. Having discovered the amazing TuskTools Calendar, this would solve the final link by allowing me to create diary input in Evernote. Unfortunately it does not as of yet work with Business Evernote or shared Notebooks. But they are working on it and I cannot wait!

 

Anyway, that is just an overview of how I have streamlined my cyber life and over the years removed a lot of the 'mess' that was driving me to distraction.

 

Best regards

 

Chris

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It might be helpful if you told us what you use now, how it works, and what you want to do.

 

However, I think I lean more towards having the right tool for the right job. I use my Evernote as a filing system for mostly what I would call reference materials. 

 

I don't use it to manage things like contacts because it's not necessarily the best thing for that. I have a lot less than 15,000 contacts, but still the principle is the same. With a contact manage you want an ease to being able to do bulk actions to create letters and emails and that is not Evernote's specialty.

 

Similarly if you want a system to organize your next actions and nag at you a bit, Evernote is not for you. On the other hand, if you are like me and create to do lists and want to keep them so you can find them and check them off when you want to work on them, then Evernote could work for you.

 

For a less work oriented use, I keep a ton of recipes in Evernote and use Say Mmmm to create shopping lists for me from them. BUT I also using a grocery shopping app for times when I am not shopping by a recipe, but instead for staples. Why? Because it is easier and it organizes things into grocery aisle for me and I can scan the product code and it will bring it up. 

 

So while I certainly think we should strive to have less apps we don't want to have too few and make routine tasks into bigger deals because we have to work around in an app not designed for what we want to do. 

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I agree with Candid.  Right tool for the right job.  But I also try to not use too many b/c as you said, it gets to be too much work.  My most used apps are Evernote for collecting & organizing info.  Then I use Toodledo as my main list manager.  (I sometimes put lists in EN.)  I use a third party app (2Do) on my iPad & iPhone that integrates with Toodledo.  WRT appointments, I use Google Calendar & have it email me a couple of times before the event, to remind me.  And since I'm trying to be as paperless as possible, if the appointment has a source document (IE doctor's appointment, an email, etc), I either scan or screen cap that & put it in Dropbox.  This way, I can verify later (should I need/want to) that the calendar has the correct information & that I didn't enter something incorrectly..  :P   I put the scan/screencap into Dropbox & then toss the original, if it's paper.  The reason I use Toodledo & Dropbox is b/c Evernote is so slow on my iDevices.  Well, I also use Toodledo b/c it's a true list manager.  But if Evernote were as snappy as Dropbox on my iDevices, I probably wouldn't use it. 

 

I have used Mastercook for ~20 years for recipes.  I think I still cling to it b/c it's a nice app & I kind of hate to let go.  :P   But I am also using EN to store not only favorite recipes but also recipes to try, whether they are from my cookbooks or something I found on the 'net (IE Pinterest).  I also use EN when doing what I call "lazy meal planning."  I will grab a couple of my cookbooks (I have over four bookcases full of them).  When I find a new recipe I want to try, I'll use FastEver Snap on my iPhone to take a picture of the recipe & hopefully include the page.  FastEver Snap auto sends this to Evernote & puts it into my meal planning notebook.  Then I add ingredients to my grocery list in Toodledo (using 2Do) on my iPad.  Later, it's easy to find the newly added recipes & I can easily find them in my cookbook b/c I have the exact recipe title & hopefully even the page number.  After I make it, I'll add a note indicating whether we liked it or not.  If I want to make it again, I'll add a tag (IE 'favorites').  If someone wants the recipe, it's not as snifty looking as exporting from Mastercook.  But it saves the time of entering the recipe & double checking everything. 

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My company used to be on Outlook.  I was a poweruser and used it for everything except note-taking.  After the switch to Google Apps, my eyes were opened to a new world.  GTasks sucks for anything beyond the basics.  However, with add-ins like Boomerang, Rapportive and others, Gmail is awesome and contacts is passable.

 

I needed a notetaking system and after leaving MS OneNote, found Evernote.

 

Now, I'm standardized on Google Apps, Evernote and Nozbe for task management.  However, I've been playing around with many project management apps as my employer is looking to standardize and I'm a guinea pig.  

 

I built a utility to help Google Calendar, Evernote and my task app to work better together and there are many such utilities out there.  So far, I haven't found anything better than Gmail/Calendar, Evernote and whichever of the many project management app your team decides to go with. 3 apps is manageable for me.

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I agree with Candid and BurgersNFries about the right tool for the job. I love Evernote and it is my brain dump, my personal knowledge database, my note taker, my resource library, my clipping file and much more.

 

It is NOT my CRM or project management system. Yes, with sufficient creativity it can emulate SOME of the functions of CRM and project management, but it lacks the features that let me get things done in a fraction of the time with real systems designed from the start.

 

Let Evernote do what it does best and find the right tools for the rest.

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It is super easy to fall in to the trap of trying to use too many programs or apps to manage your productivity.  I know this because I have fallen victim to it in the past. I am a teacher and trying to be a fore-runner in my school at working paperless as much as possible and I have finally come up with the workflow that works for me...your results may vary.

 

These days I use a much more streamlined approach made up of the following programs:

 

EVERNOTE- used for professional and personal.  I use EN for lesson planning, collecting lesson ideas, professional development ideas, misc education related stuff and the list goes on and on. On the personal front I use it to track my household bills, finanancial planning, household info, recipes, crafting (avid crocheter with LOTS of patterns and such), health info for my family and my animals, vehicle info and the list goes on and on.  I use Evernote's "webclipper" to quickly save things I have read on the web that I want to review later like recipes, crochet patterns or tutorials I want to review further or lesson ideas.  I became a premium Evernote user last year and don't see how I ever lived with out it!

 

WUNDERLIST- my daily to do list manager and also where I keep my grocery shopping lists.  Easy to add to and easy to share with family members. At present I still have the "free" wunderlist account but see myself upgrading to premium user VERY soon.  

 

DROPBOX- Online filing cabinet extraordinaire!  I have saved all word, excel, powerpoint files to my dropbox and it's great to be able to access lesson plans written at home at school in seconds.  See below though, as I'm slowly migrating this to Google Drive. 

 

GOOGLE CALENDAR - No explanation needed...no better cross platform calendar out there.  I can access it on my iphone, android tablet, macbook or pc laptop.  I NO LONGER OWN a paper planner.  

 

GOOGLE DRIVE / GOOGLE DOCS- as an educator, my school district is moving like many heavily into google apps and I am now using them for my personal use as well.  Eventually I see Google Drive replacing my Dropbox account, but for now I still have a drop box but trying NOT to add any new files to it unless necessary. All of my photos now automatically back up to Google photos and are stored privately until I choose to share them. 

 

POCKET- Pocket is my own personal digital "to be read" list.  It seems like I am constantly seeing interesting articles online when scanning my Facebook, Twitter or Google plus feeds, but don't have the time at that particular moment to read them in full.  Rather than miss out or have to print them or email them...I use Pokcet to "clip" them to my pocket reading list.  Then, when I have a few minutes to spare waiting for a meeting or class to start or something of that nature I can pull up my pocket list and read some of the things I "saved for later".  From Pocket I can share to my social media feeds if I want, email to a friend or colleague or just delete the article after I read it, or archive it in Pocket for later use.  

 

To get to this list of apps I have tried probably EVERY "To Do" list, and calendar app out there.  But what I found was that I kept coming back to these few apps and I finally realized that was what worked best for me.  

 

To get your "ideal mix" you will need to spend some time thinking and planning out what is most important to you to organize.  Then, compare that against what you are currently using.  Which of the applications / programs that you are using WORK WELL for you?  Keep those.  Where are your GAPS where you currently have NOTHING?  That is where you will need to find the right application.  Before dumping everything full force into any one productivity app, read reviews from others and even ask your friends and colleagues what they like and use.  Eventually you'll find your "ideal mix" if you keep your head in the game and don't let yourself fall in love with the search for the perfect app.

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