Organizing your Mac. Everyone does it, everyone does it differently. A recent Mac360 article got me thinking of ways to improve my own organization using my Mac. Here’s what I came up with.
New tools, new tips, new tricks, new approach. And, something borrowed, something old, but I couldn’t find anything blue (excuse me if I didn’t get that quite right).
There’s a difference between organizing your Mac, and organizing yourself using your Mac. Both probably go hand in hand, and both are critical to our digital lives these days.
Suffice it to say, I use iTunes for music and music videos and some TV shows. I use iPhoto for photos, and Documents for files, and I keep them uncluttered and in the right place and backed up every day.
For Mac navigation, I don’t use the windows in the Finder, having long ago dropped into column mode, and I use DragThing and the Dock for launching and navigating. I’ve used QuickSilver but it’s a difficult learning curve and not as stable as I’d like.
That’s organizing my Mac. What about me? Believe it or not, we keep ourselves organized using different tools on the Mac. Here’s what I’m using regularly, and a few new tips that have upped my productivity without a twisted adjustment or harsh learning curve.
Yes, I use Safari for most browsing, but also dabble in Camino, Firefox, and OmniWeb. Safari’s use of RSS makes it the winner.
Mac OS X’s Mail is the mail carrier of choice, supplanting Entourage back when Panther came out. No complaints. I use iSync, .Mac, AddressBook and iCal, though I’m looking at DayChaser, thanks to Carol’s review.
Those are basics and help me keep track of sites, email, contacts, and daily calendar and to-do lists. How can I improve on those?
I’ve used Circus Ponies Notebook for a few years, and there may not be anything better for collecting and organizing pieces of information that flow across my Mac’s screen each day.
I’ve tried Sticky Brain and DevonThink but Notebook won.
Carol’s article made me think. “What else is there? What can I add (or, remove) that would improve efficiency, not clutter my Mac more, get some jobs done faster, and give me more control over me.”
After all, my Mac works well, seems efficiently organized, but what about me? As of this week I’m deep into three new Mac applications that complement each other, and my work style.
The first is the most difficult change. Yojimbo, from BareBones Software. I’ve used their excellent BBEdit for years, so I was curious to see what their approach to personal organization would do for me.
Yojimbo isn’t really an organizer as much as it is a logical collector that you organize your way. It collects, stores, and makes readily available that flow of information that seems to assault us through our Macs.
If you need to store different data types, but have them always and quickly available, Yojimbo does that in a unique way. Text, bookmarks, serial numbers, passwords, PDFs, and all the stuff that we need to touch and store but don’t want to work to do it.
The jury’s still out on Yojimbo, but the more I dink with it, the better I like it. It’s different and takes a little effort, but seems to grow. More on Yojimbo later.
If you’re heard of David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done” then count me as a believer. Projects, tasks, milestones and a simple approach to getting things done is important.
Is there a Mac application that fits the Getting Things Done approach? Yes. It’s called Easy Task Manager and it works well with the GTD philosophy in Allen’s book. It’s isn’t just a do lit. iCal has one of those.
Much of what we do to organize ourselves is built around projects, sub-projects, tasks, and categories of each. Easy Task Manager is easily the most intuitive personal project manager I’ve ever used.
Even if you’ve not read Allen’s book or don’t understand the GTD method and approach, you’ll sense the elegance in Easy Task Manager right away. It’s a bit pricey at $20 but works well for my personal task requirements. And it works with iCal, which presents a softer learning curve.
I also have a professional life, and decided to shop around for professional version of project, task, and time-billing. Carol’s review of TaskTime4 was mostly positive, but I found it lacking in areas important to me.
I’m the typical Type-A personality; not just multi-tasking, but multi-juggling as well. I’ve never had a Mac application that could keep up and keep track.
This week, OfficeTime is proving that my Mac might be able to keep track of me and my multi-juggling, multi-tasking list of business and professional projects.
OfficeTime is a project and task and expense tracker. With a timer, an elegant learning curve, and a bucket of features that are out of sight. Literally. The more I use OT, the more things I find it can do.
The coolest feature is multiple timers for multiple projects, overlapping as needed (honestly, it happens). Capturing tasks into projects is one thing, tracking and reporting is something else.
OT does that, too. I can one-click between projects, and tasks, one click to add a task to a project or add a new project. Just as cool is the tracking of me. When I step away from my Mac (frequently), OT knows and stops the clock until I get back.
And it synchronizes with iCal and AddressBook, so I don’t have to add new contact information, or change my daily schedule routine.
What’s interesting is the reporting. If you want to know where your time goes, try OT for a week, then look at the reports of what you did with your time. It’s really scary.
I’m just finishing up my first week of using all three, and I’m impressed with both my different approach to organizing me and my time, and how each application has allowed my Mac to assist without giving me eyeburn trying to learn something totally new.
Got the boogie-woogie, nobody-can-organize-me, I’m-such-a-mess blues? Or, do you have a secret set of Mac applications that make your life better? Share with a comment.