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Experimenting with Trello

Curious to hear everyone’s thoughts on Trello for task and project management. I’m very intrigued by it’s visual card and list model. Just started playing with it, maybe I’ll do some write-ups on my workflow if it sticks.

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The Great Technology Battle of 2008

A week ago today, I was ready to declare war on my e-mail, address book, and basically my electronic existence. My life is built around technology. It has been part of my existence as long as I remember. It is my career. Yet, it was slowly drowning me. How could I turn this around I thought? Technology is supposed to help, not supposed to drown you. If anyone can figure out how to harness technology, it should be me. I had to do something.

The signs were clear: I had to do something…

 

  • My inbox was overflowing. I had over 40 labels in my Gmail account (many redundant), hundreds of e-mails a day, and many unread e-mail’s. Most of this was due to three e-mail accounts worth of e-mail being forwarded into my main Gmail account, years of laziness in figuring out how to organize it, and no time to do it. Most of what I didn’t read was just filtered into a folder, to be occasionally deleted without me even looking through them.
  • I had three address books (my Mac’s address book, my POS cell phone address book, and Gmail’s), none that synced with each other and none that were close to 100% up-to-date. My Gmail address book was in the worst shape due to the horrific feature of Gmail adding every person I have ever e-mailed into it. My Mac one wasn’t much better…it still had the phone number for my grandmother that was 2 or 3 numbers ago.
  • My bookmarks are scattered everywhere, between three web browsers (Safari, Firefox, and Camino), none of which were in sync.
  • My calendar situation was ironically in the “best” shape, as I had a central calendar I kept everything on. Only issue is access as it was hanging on the wall of my apartment, not very good if you need to check it from work or a friend’s place. Anything I wanted to write on the calendar would either be scribbled on the back of scrap paper (hoping I remember to take it out of my pocket before washing the pants) or worse, committed to a memory that does not remember such details well.
  • I had too many gadgets. Just a few years ago, I had 3 cell phones (2 from work), an iPod, and 2 computers. I had since narrowed it down to an iPod, a cell phone, and a computer. I knew I could do better though.

 

What did I have going for me? An immense knowledge of technology, the desire to figure out how to do it, and the will to do it.

Here is my progress:

 

  1. It was time I joined the smartphone junkies. Since there is really only one smartphone that plays nice with Macs and really only one smartphone that could do what I had planned, it was time to get an iPhone 3G.
  2. The iPhone immediately retired an aging POS flip phone and a 2G iPod Nano. Two devices become one. My entire digital personal life is now down to two devices: an iPhone and my Macbook. When I left the apartment, I knew I had to carry my iPhone and my wallet. That is it. The fog began to clear my mind.
  3. Finally I could schedule my life on-demand. The calendar on my iPhone? Always up-to-date. I enter every event into the iPhone, even when I should work out at the gym (Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 12 PM in the gym at work, reoccurring event). Plug in my iPhone into the Macbook twice a day (morning when I wake up and evening when I get home), all changes instantly synced with iCal. No more guessing, no more pieces of paper to lose.
  4. One address book to rule them all. I hated paper address books. They were typically bulky and who carries a pen/pencil around 24/7? So I kept three ones scattered online, on the POS flip phone, and on my Mac. Now it is all organized into one: the iPhone, synced with the Address Book application on my Mac. Two hours of organizing, adding, updating, and deleting later…and my address book is finally up-to-date for the first time in memory. I even added some birthdays in there.
  5. The inbox battle was delayed several days, but arrived Thursday night. By Friday morning, I went from 40 labels in Gmail to 5 (possibly going to four once I figure out how to deal with one of them). All filters were deleted. Everything went to the inbox. Any e-mail lists that I didn’t delete? I completely unsubscribed from them, roughly 25 of them to be exact. My sword was swift and deadly (and still swinging even today). When I was done with an e-mail? Delete it or archive it one of my 4 or 5 folders.
  6. My iPhone and Mac are now setup to use IMAP with Gmail. Both devices are now synced 100% together.
  7. My separate e-mail accounts became truly separate again. Instead of lumping my personal e-mail with my web site e-mail and my CSFBL e-mail, it is all separate now, ready for me to deal with each of them respectively when I can. All setup with IMAP of course, on my iPhone and Mac.
My progress is staggering. My personal digital life has changed drastically in the past week. E-Mail’s are now being answered promptly, I am no longer stressed trying to keep everything accurate/synced, and I even feel much smarter now I am organized. My digital life is now contained in an iPhone and my Macbook. That’s it. What an improvement.
What is there left to do?
  • Switch to using Safari on my Mac. It pains me to do it (been a loyal user of Firefox since Phoenix 0.1). But my iPhone syncs with only Safari. Might as well keep everything consistent and simple.
  • Time to clean up the bookmarks. Delete old ones, organize them, and bookmark only what I truly need.
  • Clean up my RSS feeds. I need to figure out how to best do this. Google Reader is great, but I have 300-400 feeds I keep track of in there, many are redundant. I need to clean house on those. Google Reader on the iPhone works alright, but I hope it either comes out with a native application soon or someone does a better iPhone RSS reader.
  • Keep the iPhone apps I truly need. Given the release of the app store a week ago, my iPhone is quite the mess at the moment, with icons everywhere. Need to clean it up and keep only what I need to use.
  • Better time management. I can be much more productive with my time. I really need to get going on reading Getting Things Done.
It is a start, but a drastic step forward. More later on this.