Planning tips 4: Create an index for your note-book
"Call that a top tip!? What's the point in that? I'll just flick through 'til I find what I want. I don't need a note-book anyway; I've got an iPad." Actually you're right, there's a bit more to this post than creating an index for your note-book. I'll share some insights on a wholly paper-based approach and some thoughts on apps that might help you if you still want to use the tech.
I've got an iPad and devices that connect to the internet and most of these things will synchronise with each-other if you want them to; indeed I NEED them to. But I often use a spiral bound A5 note-book. You can use any size you like. In fact there is only one rule and that's Create an Index. Since I discovered this rule I've been amazed at the difference it makes. This is the analogue equivalent of synchronisation. I can find things so much more quickly than flicking through!
There is a lot of advice on how to use notebooks as effective tools and over the years I’ve independently developed my own versions of many of the tips that’s out there. But if you’d like to see it all in one place, look no further than Bullet Journals http://bulletjournal.com/ . If you like quick fixes or simple solutions, it can look fussy and intricate at first. But you don’t have to adopt all of the methods all at once. Nor do you have to buy their expensive moleskin notebooks. You can just use the advice on creating an index (and numbering your pages!). If you enjoy spending time on your plans then there’s a whole world of complexity to explore – you only have to enter ‘journal’ in Pintrest and you’ll be overwhelmed with every kind, from colour-coded works of art to the plain and simple.
So what about my iPad/tablet? A great place to start if you're a bit overwhelmed by all the choices out there are the basic tools that come as standard with a PC or phone, such as;
Tasks, Notes, Reminders
Notes app that comes as standard on your phone
Google calendar/ Yahoo calendar or other cloud-based calendars
If you are tech savvy then you have probably heard of, or already use, many of the following apps. But remember, you need to integrate them into your planning and organisation process if they are to be more than just random toys. Read this if you think apps will solve your all organisational problems. https://www.wired.com/2016/03/best-to-do-list-app/
So you still want something electronic, do you? Most of these have been recommended to me, but yes I do use Wunderlist and Evernote (but only when I haven't got my trusty note-book with me).
Some come with suggested categories (e.g. Work, Travel, Movies to watch, Things to do, Family), some with a more specialised focus, such as Recipe classifications, or simply To-do lists.
HabitRPG (It has gaming type features like rewards and levels)
Note-keeping Apps (or 'It's not just a list, it's a Productivity app!')
Use any or all of these tools, but use them as part of a structured process. Or you can just play – if you have the time.
Life hacker has always got up to date news on apps and software http://lifehacker.com/5924093/five-best-to-do-list-managers
Forbes magazine is business focused and always worth a look for this kind of advice https://www.forbes.com/sites/mzhang/2015/06/09/best-apps-for-people-with-too-much-to-do/#74bd9737273b
Image attribution: This image belongs to Arc52.