The App to End All Apps (for Organization, that is)

I’ve written about this in the past. My absolute love of Apple Notes to keep myself organized and on track for projects and tasks.

The main reasons are all about simplicity and ease.

All of my electronic devices – phone, computer, watch – are in the Apple universe. It’s a seamless synchronization to keep my daily to-do list all in one place that I have access to pretty much anywhere.

Plus, the digital nature allows me to move tasks up or down the order throughout the day and week. I can keep my day fluid but structured.

Here’s how it works for me.

First, I have all my week’s tasks outlined in an apple note, broken up by day – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Next, I start by stacking my tasks throughout the day and estimating how much time each item might take. From my experience working in dozens of businesses, I’m pretty good at estimating the amount of time a certain task will take, whether that’s an hour or three.

And I know that throughout the course of the average day in the office, depending on calls, appointments, walks with my dogs, and lunch break, I have between five and six hours a day to work on and in my business.

So I always look to have five to six hours of items logged in the task list.

A note about timing, I don’t map out specific on time like from 8 o’clock to 9 o’clock, I’ll work on this project for a client. I know many people who use this technique to great success, but I found it too restrictive.

Then, I structure the items in line with my new energy flow pattern with the high focus analytical tasks in my front few hours, then creative and instinctual tasks into the middle hours, and a few more moderately analytical or focus-based tasks at the end of the day.

Also, I color code the task to the client, which usually is aligned with a color from their branding. For example, one client has pink in her branding, so her tasks are pink on my list. Or, since I have dark teal as a brand color, my tasks are dark teal.  

The color coding allows for super quick scanning, sorting, and grouping of tasks. That’s my office products background kicking in – color-coded organization.

When I do a quick scan and see sporadic lines of pink (which signals tasks for the same client), I know I can shuffle the order around to group and batch that client’s tasks together.

Sometimes, for instance, I’ll see specks of pink throughout the day, and I know that it’s easier to be in this client’s business working at just one chunk during the day. So for that, I’ll move it so that all the pink is grouped together.

Here’s a glimpse into what my task list looks like on any given week:

When I get started on my computer each and every morning and open Apple Notes, which opens to the most recent edited note and 99% of the time that’s my task list, I know exactly what the first task I want to concentrate on is.

Instead of hemming and hawing for 20 minutes wondering what I need to do that day, I’m able to dive right in and get started.

All of the simplicity and flexibility is GREAT, but the biggest bonus is that it allows me the ability to close my computer when I’m not working!

During the day, I have my task list in Apple Notes open on my computer to see what order I’m moving through tasks in.

But to keep to my promise to myself to not always be ON in my business, I like to close out my work time for the day, and shut my computer. And when it’s off, I’m logged off completely unless my assistant needs to get a hold of me for an emergency (and we’re very clear on what those parameters are).

I don’t log back on, usually not even for personal tasks, like ordering my niece’s birthday gift. I try to have my eyes off the screen during my logged off time because it’s too tempting to do a “quick check” of Slack and send this email “super fast” and jump into that Facebook “just for a minute”.

So I just say NO.

Then, if I think of something that I want to get done the next day or later in the week, like reaching out to a client to schedule a coffee chat or sending a Thank You card to one of my business besties, I open my phone, bring up the Apple Notes app, and it’s already synced with my most current task list. And, I add it to the task and close my phone.

I’m good with my boundaries around electronic devices and not mindlessly scrolling on apps and email, so I can quickly add that item to the list and return to whatever it was that I was doing.

It’s a simplified version of what I need to do each and every day.

I use Asana with my assistant and other clients, and although it is helpful for organizing all the details and communications related to a task or project, having the high-level, simplified list is the key.

That’s really the distinction between Apple Notes and a project management software like Asana for keeping on track – it’s ultra-simplified.

Yes, you can go to the project management software or specific email or a file on your computer to get the details, but this is the high-level, “boom, boom, boom – this is what you need to do today” look.

“Do simple better,” as Joe Maddon says.

And that’s exactly what Apple Notes allows me to do. Not get bogged down in too much clutter and detail that I can’t even start a task.

Now, you might be thinking, “Lindsay, that seems like a lot of structure and complexity to keep in place”, but I promise it’s really a combination of:

  • simplicity plus the high-level view
  • not over-scheduling and good time boundaries
  • honesty about the amount of time it really takes to complete a task
  • energy flow awareness
  • batching together like tasks, where possible

Apple Notes has been my go-to method for my daily task list for two and a half years.

When I’m scrambling around and feel like I have so much to do, I write it all down in my note.

Then, I look at it and check in with the amount of time.

And 9 times out of 10, I find that yes, it’s doable.

Yes, I can get it done.

Yes, I can keep on track.

And yes, the overwhelm has just been zapped out of the day.

How do you keep yourself organized and on task each day? What helps you stay out of the overwhelm and taking action?


Photo by Crew on Unsplash


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