Konan - the boy detective and his amazing glasses

Dan Gold recently posted a screencast about a cool tool called Followupthen, and I posted this comment:

Clear and concise screencast. Followupthen, I can see working for someone who spends most of their time working at their computer: they would most likely be at their computer when the email arrives, and (hopefully) will READ the email. Personally, I use my cell-phone calendar (not synced with Google calendar) to create reminders. I (usually) carry my cell-phone, and it buzzes to remind me to go to work (for example), or pick up my daughter from day-care.

After posting that, I started using my (non-Apple, non-google-synced) cell-phone’s “task” app. Why did I never use this before?!?!?

 Why did I never use this before?!?!?

I haven’t used it before because I didn’t want my ToDos scattered across all my electronic tools and non-synced.(Apparently, this is an ongoing challenge for the geek community – to make apps talk to each other and sync their data smoothly without over-writing or deleting the existing data.) I waste quite enough time as it is, thank you, putting events into my Outlook calendar, then into my cell-phone, then into my paper-based hard-copy, real-life diary. I say “waste time”, because what usually happens is that when something is due, it’s in or on a tool that I’m not actually carrying (or am carrying but isn’t connected to the Internet), so I don’t get the reminder! Sod’s law.

Why I want an iPhone

One reason I’m thinking of buying an iPhone is that I want to input calendar stuff just ONCE, into ONE calendar, and have it automatically synced with all my other calendars. Period. I also want it to automatically write the event in pen in my hard-copy, paper-based, real-life diary.  Think I’m optimistic? I’m sure there’s an app for that. There are probably apps that will PHONE you when a calendar event comes due. That’ll be the moment when my phone decides to run out of juice. Oh! for solar-powered cell-phones!! (Then it’ll be a cloudy night…) There are no doubt clever chaps somewhere working on an integrated calendar/phone/note-taking app that will display on your eye-glasses, and maybe even on your contact-lenses. Or maybe just “telephone” you directly into your brain.

Let’s get back to the point, shall we?

OK, getting a little side-tracked here. The POINT of this post was a reminder to self to KISS: Yes, it’s now possible to sync a great number of tools, thanks to SkyDrive, or Evernote or Dropbox and a trillion others. Maybe it’s also possible to get some of these to talk to each other or close enough, e.g. Followupthen, or ITTT (If This, Then That).

But one of the most valuable things I learned from David Allen’s GTD so far is the following, which I wrote about here:

you want to be reminded of those things you need to be reminded of at the right place and the right time. [David Allen] gives an example of an important letter/document you need to take to work the next morning.  The next morning, you will be groggy, you will almost certainly not remember to take the document. Where do you put it so you will be sure to remember? Allen suggests by the front door, on top of/next to your shoes, or on the mat  or somewhere you will not fail to see it.  You will see the mat/your shoes with the document lying on it/them. You will think, “What the hell is this? Oh, yeah! This is something I need to take to the office.” And you pick it up and walk out the door.

Conclusion (finally)

Typing something into Outlook Calendar is useful – just the act of typing can help store and recall the memory. Evernote is very useful, too, and it seems natural to add to its awesome clipping functions your ToDo list. But what if you’re not at your computer with Outlook OPEN when the alarm goes off? I need an alarm that will remind me at the right place and time, and though I usually, often, sometimes forget my cell-phone, it’s the tool that is with me more of the time than anything else. So obviously, that’s the place to put my calendar reminders, especially for actions out in the field. Typing/clipping notes into OneNote, syncing with SkyDrive, is coolio… but not much good if at the moment you need the reminder, you’re not SkyDriving or working with a tool that has your synced OneNote running. Is all I’m sayin’.