“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!

4 Strategies to deal with email more efficiently

The continual battle with email and cleansing process of email newsletters

Like most people, I can easily spend an exorbitant amount of time on email. I continually try to develop processes allowing me to spend quality vs. wasted time handling email. Here are my top four ways that I have designed to cut down  email noise

1. Use my Evernote email address evernote-email
When I sign up for an email newsletter, I utilize my Evernote email address. These newsletters now come into my inbox in Evernote. I typically file and browse these notes once or twice a week in the afternoon during a lower productivity time of the day. This process allows me to quickly tag these emails and search in Evernote if I ever wanted to recall a particular email.

 

2. Use of a separate Gmail address that I check once a month
I set up a separate Gmail address that I use for either marketing emails or required sign-ups that I don’t intend ever to read. I only look at this email account one time a month, and I sort by sender so I can filter through 1200-1500 hundred emails in approximately 10 minutes. This is my “permissioned” junk email filter that I set up years ago. If I ever wanted to search for deals or do price matching I can quickly pull up this email account and search for product X.

 

3. Use Unroll.me App unroll-me
I am surprised that even with a quasi-junk email address and intentionally using my Evernote how many emails still end up on lists in my primary email account. In this situation, I use a service called Unroll.me. This service looks at all new emails and parses out auto emails. It compiles them and sends them in 1 email per day. My guess is that approx 10 emails per week I end up consolidate to unroll.me.  This service alerts so that you add emails to Unroll, unsubscribe, or keep in the inbox.  Very useful.

 

filter

In Gmail, Select Filter Messages

4a. Use auto forward and file in Gmail. (Rules based Gmail) 
I use this process when emails are sent to my Gmail address, and they need to be captured and filed, but I do not need to touch them. An excellent example is when Home Depot emails me a receipt when I make a purchase. I have all these emails automatically filed in a folder so I can go back and located if needed.

 

4b. Use auto forward to EverNote and archive in Gmail. (Rules based Gmail)
This list includes emails sent to my Gmail address that I want to be captured and filed in EverNote, but I do not necessarily need to touch them.  Same process as gmail but I want these email stored in Evernote vs Gmail.  I migrating from 4a to 4b.

filters-and-blocked-emails

Under settings, select Filters

Using shared family calendars at Home

We look at coworkers schedules and availability everyday, why not do the same when we get home?

In 2007, my wife and I switched to Google Family Calendar to manage our family’s ever-evolving schedule. We had used calendars in our work life but then we began treating our home Family Calendar with the same level of focus which has helped us tremendously. We asked ourselves why we are so intentional with our work lives and why we shouldn’t bring that some focus to our precious time with family.

Why we use shared calendars at home

While family calendars are not new or novel, to us they are the foundation for our family organizes and communicates. We use our calendars different in that my wife put to do’s on the calendar and integrate my Todoist calendar side by side.

Key take away

Most of us have systems and very few of us do it the same way.  Create a system that works for you and stick to it; changing only when absolutely needed.

Updates to this post

I created an update to this post that goes into much for detail, for those families that have already mastered the basics!  Check out this updated Post.

google calendar

Fun Fact… Google Calendar was created on April 13, 2006. Yes, I had to google it!