“PINGS” My 2017 personal systems review

I don't do resolutions, I focus on systems

Every New Year people spend time on goals and resolutions; for me, this is when I look at current personal processes to see if changes would be effective

I used to change systems all the time; a new “to do” list app came out, and I was changing every few months. Now, I have become much more disciplined in my approach and don’t envision any significant changes. I did, however, want to refine my “Ping” process in 2017.

I realize that this post will be over the top for probably 99% of the population; however, if my pain and trials help someone it will be worth sharing!

1. Problem Statement: I need to see both my calendar and my to do’s on one view per day. I used to look at my calendar and say, that isn’t so bad… Then I would look at my to-do list and say, that isn’t so bad… When I merged them, I was trying to do 16hours of stuff in an eight our window. Here is a graphical view of the systems and how my calendar (Google Calendar) works with my to-do list (Todoist)

2.  While my core process works, I have been working on my “Ping system” for the last three years.

What is a ping system you ask?  It’s the little things in my life that I need/want to do, but without a system, I won’t commit them to habit.  Here is where the ping process fits into the daily plan.

3.  My ping process has evolved over the last 3 years in this way

2015 – coach.me
2016-  Todoist
2017-  Google Calendar (New Calendar)

4.  So how does this end up looking when the systems are integrated?  Here is the view I use every day

Again, I realize this system is way more detailed than most people need or want.  Here is what I have learned from a systems standpoint.  My system will probably only work for me, it is a combination of looking what others have done and building a best of practice approach for me.  We all have to find that balance and what works for us individually.  If you have comments or suggestions I would love to hear them in the comments below!

Back to the Books

about a year ago, I moved back to reading books in hard-copy vs kindle

I have always enjoyed reading different kinds of books.  When I got my iPad, I moved to the Kindle format but it was never the same.  I am a digital person and try to “avoid paper”  but the idea of not being able to take notes and highlight effectively has led me back to reading hard copy books.  I find I get more from reading actual books and will probably implement a hybrid iPad and paper book reading style.  All, that being said, I put an order in for my next round of books and here is what I plan to dig into:

2016-07-16 07 -3

continue reading

How our family created an “intentional” smart kitchen

removing screens from the kitchen area for less distractions

Ok… I know it may not be the smart kitchen we tech enthusiasts are dreaming about, but it is my first start!  Here is what I like about our kitchen set up.

Simple:  Our smart kitchen doesn’t have wires, screens or lots of hardware.  It only consists of the Amazon Echo.  Like many families, there are too many distractions in the day, and we are trying to keep our kitchen tech free.

Hands-free task/data entry:   Groceries, to do’s or calendar requests.  When things needed to be added to the to-do list or grocery list my wife and I were scrambling for a phone or device.  The problem was when we picked up the phone to add milk to the shopping list; we ended up spending 10 min on unplanned screen time. (thank you Facebook!)

Hands-free Cooking:  Imaging this… you are in the kitchen cooking bacon and eggs for your little girls, and you use the last  drop of orange juice.  Your family has already transitioned to a digital shopping list, in our case ToDoist, but your hands are wet, the baby is crying, and the bacon is burning.  Waalaa..  rather than scramble for a phone and open the app and type in orange juice, you yell over the chaos, Alexa adds OJ to the shopping list.  Bam, added to the shopping list and while you are cooking and your wife is at the store, it updates, and she knows to grab OJ.

***I should note that it is necessary to use one my favorite little life hacks called IFTTT to connect Echo grocery list with Todoist, but it takes just a few minutes to do so.

Hands-free morning routine:  During my morning routine of getting things organized, coffee and kids loaded for daycare, there is inevitably that “thing” that pops in my head that says “do this” or  “don’t forget x” when you get into the office.  Now I can relay the message to Alexa as I buzz through the kitchen, and it shows up in my ToDoist list.

Day to day use cases:

  • How many ounce’s are in a cup?  We will be in the kitchen and my wife will ask how many pints in a quart etc. Now, we just ask Alexa and the cooking magic continues.
  • Is it going to rain tomorrow?  In the old days, we would have to get out a device out and “ask Google”.   Now with Alexa always on standby we ask and she lets us know when the rain will be in our area.

I could keep going with the use cases but here is the summary.  We all have grown accustomed to getting answers from the web; now you can stay connected and not forget things but keep the focus on the family and not go to a device.  I believe we are only scratching the surface of Voice and if you have a voice product that you need more use cases or an enthusiast to test hit me up!


In an effort to make every step count, this is our current process.  How do you use Amazon Echo?