Of all the changes I’ve made for self-employment, building up a system for getting and staying organized has had the most impact.  I’m a student of psychology, and I’m well aware of my mental limits for holding information.  I’m also a natural scatterbrain so … oh look a bird...  Anyway, the quicker I can get something out of my head and into a safe place, the more likely it is to get done.  So I’ve globbed several systems into my get-things-done process.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of a tickler file I suggest you watch this short video.  The system is genius, and rather than go into the details I’ll just say that this has saved my hide more times than I care to admit.

Another huge part of my get-things-done routine has been to use a personal wiki as a way to empty my brain and keep track of what I do during the day.  My wiki of choice is tiddlywiki because it requires no server and is highly customizable, and I use Dropbox as a way to share/backup the wiki as I roam the universe.  The pomodoro time management technique keeps me on task during the day, and I’ve integrated a pomodoro timer and task tracker into my wiki’s journal feature:


Finally, I tend to carry a hipster PDA on a lanyard around my neck when I’m away from the keyboard.  Anything that I need to remember, that I think is interesting, or that I’m afraid I may forget gets jotted down on a card.  When I’m back at my desk I process the cards.  If the card indicates something date sensitive, I just drop it into the appropriate of the 43 folders; if the card is a project idea, it goes into the wiki.

Not terribly technical or fancy, but it works like a champ and, most importantly, it’s easy to do and doesn’t get in my way.