Hey Everyone, I want to talk to you today about a tool that you can use to greatly increase your personal productivity.
It’s a free online tool called Remember the Milk. It's also available on the iphone, ipad and numerous other phones and devices and it’s one of the better task management tools I’ve seen in a long time.
I'm a fan of David Allen's "Getting Things Done" methodology. If you haven't read this book, look it up on Amazon.com, it's one of the best books in the world that will teach you how to boost your productivity at work and at home. 'Remember The Milk' is essentially a software based way of doing what David Allen teaches in his book.
Getting Things Done in a Nutshell
Before explaining how Remember the Milk works, I'll give you the cliff notes guide to 'Getting things done' methodology.
Everything that is going on in your life is running around in your brain in 'open loops' that you may not be consciously aware of. These open loops cause you to do things slower, similar to how a computer runs slower if you have too many applications open at the same time.
So the first step is to identify all the things that you have 'to do' in your life and write it down as an actionable task.
David Allen recommends putting them in an 'inbox' with each task on a separate sheet of paper.
Then when you start each day, you work your way through your inbox of tasks and either 'do it', 'delegate it', 'defer it' or delete it.
Particularly urgent or priority tasks can automatically be put at the top of the pile, however be careful not to spend too much time categorizing your tasks as the idea is to just work through them quickly either doing them, delegating, deferring or deleting them.
If you find yourself becoming distracted by a new idea, or a new task that suddenly crops up, simply write down that new idea in an 'ideas folder' and go back to check through those ideas on a monthly or weekly basis, so that they don't distract you in the here and now. New tasks should just get written down and added to your inbox.
You'll find this very satisfying, it's somewhat liberating to have everything that you need to do in your life all organized into actionable tasks that you can get rid of.
It gives you great confidence in the fact that nothing gets lost and you always know what you have left to do, evening 'remembering the milk'
You may wish to have more than one category of inbox, such as Work, Study and Personal. I recommend not having too many categories, though a few will be helpful.
In addition, in David Allen's system, there are other things that I have left out of my short summation, such as an ongoing series of reviews in which you periodically go over your now organized items from various levels of granularity to ensure that your individual projects and their takss are working in focus with your side to side scanning of new tasks for your inbox.
Here's where Remember the Milk comes in...
As I mentioned earlier in this post, Remember the Milk is essentially software that allows you to easily implement David Allen's 'Getting Things Done' methodology to boost your productivity and declutter your thinking.
With a simple, easy to use interface, organizational tools, and the ability to sync your schedule across multiple platforms, Remember the Milk is a productivity tool that can help you keep track of everything you have going on – from your next affiliate website to the stuff you need to grab from the store on the way home (hint, hint – don’t forget the milk!)
Signing up for Remember the Milk is simple. Just give your name and email and choose a desired screen name. After you’ve verified the email you can log into the home page, where you can start entering in tasks. From here there are several tabs that can be used to organize your tasks:
You can also create new categories if you wish to add more.
If you wish to utilize this tool with others, such as in a workplace environment, you also have the ability to send and receive tasks. If someone sends you a task, it will show up in your inbox with all of the information included. If you need to send a task to someone else, you can do so by clicking on a task you’ve created, going to the “More Actions” tab, and sending it to one of your contacts.
Even if you are the only one using it, you can still manually add new tasks as they arrive in your life and you can use the 'sent' folder to move tasks to that you've successfully delegated.
If you have a spouse that really wants to make sure that you don't forget to do things on a personal level, such as paying the phone bill, then you can show them how to add tasks to your personal items folder really easily.
What's more, you can even set due dates/times so that an alarm will go off on your iphone (or on your desktop) when an item occurs (such as a meeting you might need to attend, or to get the milk on the way home from work).
Adding tasks on Remember the Milk is specifically designed to be quick and intuitive. For example, when you add a date to a task, just write something like:
• July 1st, 2011
• Next Friday
• Three Weeks
• 25 Hours from Saturday
All of these turn into a specific date that corresponds with the words used. This is pretty clever software – even when in a hurry, you can keep your task lists straight with just a few simple notes.
You can also add tags, an estimated time frame, the location, a URL, and other information that will help you keep the tasks organized. Anyone you share the tasks with will be listed, and you can add notes on a separate tab to ensure you have everything you need to complete the goal.
You can also give each task a priority (1, 2, 3, and none). I highly recommend you do this because you can than view a chart outlining the most important tasks for any given day – it’s like an automated prioritizer. Only have 10 minutes to work on 2 hours’ worth of tasks? Check your charts and see what’s most important.
Another cool thing I really like is the availability of keyboard shortcuts. Web apps frequently ignore just how amazing a QWERTY keyboard can be in cutting down on unnecessary steps. With Remember the Milk, you can customize and speed up a lot of common tasks you enter.
At any given point you can postpone an item or mark it as complete. If you postpone a task, the number of times it is postponed will be listed on the task itself. If any item is due during that day or is overdue, Remember the Milk will automatically bold and underline the tasks to help you notice.
Organizing Across Platforms
In addition to the ability to organize your tasks easily, you can also access these tasks across multiple platforms. Currently the program runs on iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Android, Gmail, Outlook, Twitter, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and more. The apps synchronize with the data instantly online, and can be set up to send reminders or push notifications when a task is due.
By installing Remember the Milk on ALL of your devices and your computer, you streamline a lot of unnecessary motions. No cross checking your to do lists. No copying and pasting or emailing yourself. No sorting through old lists and trying to remember what you did already. It’s all in one central location and it syncs automatically. Make sure you set it up to work on every device you own – only then can you really tap into its potential.
The key value of Remember the Milk is its ease and versatility. By allowing you to send, share, and receive tasks, as well as create your own tasks and access them using a bunch of different platforms, it becomes much easier to manage multiple projects without losing track of any important information.
While there are other ways to manage projects, most of them are pretty limited, use a less intuitive interface, can’t be sent/received, or don’t sync across all your devices. Remember the Milk has all of these features, which means it’s a heck of a way to boost, and better yet, maintain productivity in every aspect of your life.
I hope you enjoyed and gained great value from this post.
As always, I'm keen to hear your comments.