family systems

IT: Intentional technology that our family uses to make every step count

Our family has worked to implement systems that help us function efficiently with the goal of not adding extra burden to our daily lives. I realize that everyone has their preferred systems; I am not sharing this with the intent of changing what you do, but rather to share what has and has not worked for us and learn from others how they work.

Earlier in my career, I would switch apps and tools “trying” the next new thing! Now that we have systems in place, we have learned to trust the system and only tweak as needed. Here is how we work and we use these systems to achieve our family goal of “making every step count.”

Level 1 – Critical Apps

Gmail
Google Calendar
ToDoist

Email 

Email and the way in which it is managed, is necessary in today’s world.  

I don’t subscribe to inbox 0 but rather inbox 20 but rather try to keep below 20; that is what I can effectively manage.

Here are 4 Strategies I use to deal with email more efficiently 

Calendar 

We use Google Calendar extensively for home and work.  

We track meetings, calls, events and family activities all within this app.  

Here is our calendaring process.

Tasks

We use ToDoist for tracking our to do lists, grocery lists, costco list and prayer reminders.   Having a list of actions for projects at home, work and in my personal life is important for our family.

Here is our process on the the integration of  our To Do List and Calendars.

Level 2 – Suggested Apps

Evernote
Slack
Full Contact
Google Photos

Evernote Digital filing cabinet  

we moved to a digital filing cabinet several years ago and now have minimal paper around the house. We use Evernote for the work, home and many uses.  Here  is a detailed post on how we use Evernote

Slack 

In sticking with best practices in our professional lives, my wife and I have moved from text messaging to Slack so we can segment conversations and run cross-platforms. I don’t like the lack of workflow capabilities with standard text messaging apps.

CRM FullContact

We needed  source for contacts. 

FullContact is our system of record, with tour Christmas Card list being the strongest use case. FullContact syncs automatically to Google Contacts, Twitter, Outlook and it also pulls in LinkedIn data.  

Family Photos – In 2002 we began the task of organizing and categorizing family photos.  The machine learning and auto image enhancement in this app is impressive. Now, if I want a picture of a person or object, I just go to my photos and search for the word I want.


Level 3 – Nice To Have Apps

Grammarly
Feedly
Allway Sync

Proofreading – Writing is not my strength. While I keep working to improve, I would always ask my wife to help proof blog posts, etc. To cut down on this task, I implemented Grammarly. It checks grammatical, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. Even with this tool, every-time I look at KevinHeikes.com I find another typo!

News – I started using Feedly after Google Reader folded shop. It is necessary to manage RSS feeds because of the limited amount of time, but the vast amount of information available. I try to spend 10-15 min in the morning reviewing topics on Agriculture, #AgTech, Grain Markets, Technology and a few personal development/ productivity sites.

System Backups – We have set up AllwaySync to run every week and back up documents, pictures, and videos from local PC to an external hard drive.

Cloud Storage and Backup 

Google Drive
DropBox
Amazon Drive
  • Google Drive is our primary source for document and photo storage. An app is available to download if you like the windows file management process and don’t want to manage documents on the web interface.
  • Dropbox is used for systems integrations (i.e., IFTTT) and easy sharing with others.
  • Amazon Drive is used for family video. When our family wants to watch our home videos, we can utilize the Amazon App for playback (the only problem is for video’s over 20 min – the buffering tends to be slow).