organizational follies

About six months ago, I came to a great conclusion. That conclusion was, my organizational skills suck, and not being properly organized was hurting my productivity in a big way. I’d slacked along for years, getting by, but now it was time to do something about it.

For consulting work, I’m now using Alex King’s Tasks software to manage work requests and system administration duties. In effect, I’m using it as a pseudo-trouble ticket system. This has made my clients much happier, as things don’t “fall through the cracks” anymore when I have a lot of little pending “to do” items. I’ve been drooling over using Basecamp, but it’s $24/month versus the one-time cost of $30 for Tasks.

In my personal life, a lot of my clutter at home was solved by (yeah, I know, its funny) moving. When I moved from Austin to Houston, I took a good long hard look at my posessions, and threw or gave away everything that I owned that wasn’t sentimental or used on a regular basis. Instead of moving into a new home and trying to make everything fit, we moved into a mostly-empty home and bought the furniture we needed and put the few things that aren’t in “active duty” in the closets. As a result, we have plenty of storage space for things, and no “packrat clutter” filling up the garage. I’ve had to resist the urge to bring more older hardware home, but I look at it and think “I really won’t use this for more than a week or two; therefore I don’t need it.”

When it comes to my career, I’m looking at a few methods to “get my shit together” at the office. Moving from Austin to Houston and then from one office to another in Houston over the past three months did a good job of cleaning out cruft from the contents of my office. I’m currently working my way through David Allen’s Getting Things Done, and implementing some of the methods he describes. Time will tell if I can stick to it and actually Get Things Done.

Tonight I went to Office Depot and picked up a small binder/notebook and some index cards; over the next week I’ll give the Hipster PDA a try. I’ve been using a Moleskine journal for notes during meetings for the past two months, but I had the “Large” version and it just seemed unwieldy and awkward to carry around. If the index card thing doesn’t work out, I might try picking up a 3-pack of the pocket notebooks, but damn, the Moleskine stuff is expensive (and the small versions not available at the local Borders bookstore).

One thing I’m lusting after is a Fisher Space Pen, but Office Depot doesn’t carry them.

9 thoughts on “organizational follies

  1. Interesting links to the Tasks & Basecamp pages.. I’d never seen either, and they both look really useful. As the world’s biggest organizational retard, I need to use something.

    I’m not quite sold on the Fisher Space Pen. It just wouldn’t give me good enough consistency.. it’d write great one day, and awful the next. I had one, and used it for a year or two, but ended up switching to a fountain pen. Then, when I was flying to three or four cities a week, the fountain pen just got impractical (lots of pressure changes + fountain pen = ink). So I ended up discovering that Parker makes these Gel refills for normal ballpoint pens. It feels every bit as good as a fountain pen, except it’s basically a rollerball, and I haven’t found a downside yet. I ended up buying a Faber Castell e-Motion pen for $35ish, tossing the “amazing patented Faber Castell refill” in the garbage, and sticking a Parker gel refill in it. It beats the crap out of my Lamy 2000 or my Mont Blanc for every daystuff, and if I lose it, I’m out..forty bucks. It costs *just enough* that I’m too careful with it to lose it, but not enough that I’ll actually cry if I do.

    The funny part is that those stupid Parker refills fit almost every free faux-nice giveaway pen I collected through the dotcom boom, so I’ve revitalized my collection of crappy Checkpoint FW-1 pens, Radware pens, and Sun pens. Seriously. Go spend $2 on just one of the Parker gel refills at Staples/Office*/whatever and try it out. Screw writing in space. Write in Houston. Parker has reintroduced some retro Jotters that would be a cool way to go as well..

    Way to go on rediscovering your Swatch Irony Automatic. The price is right and it should have a nice, perfectly reliable ETA movement in it. I ended up going the (real) Rolex Submariner route, but I have to say, I don’t think you’ve got enough Republican in you to wear a Rolex properly, Bill. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. If you like Tasks and Basecamp, 37Signals has an upcoming project named Backpack that should be launching in the next 30-45 days. Rumor has it that it’s some sort of online PIM to go along with Basecamp; I hope to get picked for the beta.

    Right now I’m using a pack of PaperMate Flexgrip Elite M pens that I picked up tonight at Office Depot. I’ve yet to ever spend more on pens than $15 for a 12-pack. Thanks for the recommendation.

    I ended up putting the Swatch back in its box and back in storage – I rediscovered what made me put it away in the first place. Its “Automatic” movement is supposed to keep running for 48 hours or so. Turns out, if I take it off at night and forget to wear it to work the next morning, its stopped dead by the time I get home from work the next evening. As a result, I’m on the lookout for a similar watch, but one that takes batteries. ๐Ÿ™‚

    If Republicans wear Rolexes, what do Democrat liberal hippies use? A sundial? ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hmm.. I’m not quite sure what hippy Democrats wear. Swatches would have been my first guess. Got it. Swiss Army Watches. That’s what they wear.

    Personally, if you want to look at watches you’ll end up falling in love with, then figuring out that you’re not able to afford, I strongly recommend Bell & Ross (http://www.bellross.com/). Their Vintage 123 is the coolest thing this side of a Rolex Explorer I. Of course, half of their watches are rebranded Sinn (http://www.sinn.de) watches with marketing mystique added, but I like them anyway. They have some interesting quartz models, like their Type Demineur.

    Just don’t buy anything that says “Official Navy SEAL Watch” on it. That’s all I ask.

  4. Hippies can’t wear something with the word ‘Army’ in the name. That would be supporting the ‘Industrialized Military Machine’ or something like that. I’m not up on my hippy bad-guy of the week slang. They’d wear some sort of self-winder I’m sure.

    I wear a 15 year old Seiko Kinetic that works like a charm. It’s a self winder I can take off for a couple days and it’ll stay working. It’s also accurate as hell. I only set it twice a year at Daylight Saving changes and it holds the time prefectly until the next change.

    Here is here’s the one I want. I love 24 hour movements. It’s not totally perfect in that it has no minute hand but it has a digital readout for that. Noon is at the top where it should be on a 24 hour movement. It also shows sunrise, sunset, and moon phase at a glance. It’s a sweet number if you ask me.

  5. I came across your blog via SimpleBits post about your post about the Bonnie Tyler video… started going through it some because it piqued my interest seeing the Dallas skyline in the header… I live in N. Richland Hills and currently work for a warehouse distribution company in Carrollton managing a SQL/IIS server.

    As for the reason I’m posting here, I recently went to Target and noticed that had some more inexpensive moleskine-like notebooks for only a few bucks each (including an accordian holder for 4×6 cards… though I’d prefer a 3×5 accordian file which I may have to get from Moleskine). Just wanted to pass on this tip. Check em out.

  6. I came across your site when I was doing some searches on Tiger, and then started reading it , very nice. One thing you did say was “One thing Iโ€™m lusting after is a Fisher Space Pen, but Office Depot doesnโ€™t carry them.”
    I have had several of these pens over the years, The main reason I got the pen was cause it was small and looked cool! It was small enough to fit in my pocket and that would ensure I would always have a pen handy when I needed one.

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