An overview of my planning and productivity system in 2021

Google Calendar, Microsoft OneNote, Trello and Todoist

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post called An overview of my planning and productivity system in 2019. I was discussing it with a couple of people last week and thought it was probably about time that I updated it to reflect how things have evolved during that time.

During the last few years, my basic tools have not changed. As I said in my last post, for a long time I tried to limit myself to using only one task management application. I would periodically switch between Trello and something else (Outlook tasks, Wunderlist, Todoist). Eventually, I realised that I could use different tools for different jobs. For me, a good organisation system should enable you to do the following, and this is what I use:

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Microsoft To Do review

Screenshot of Microsoft To Do

As many may know, I am a big fan of Todoist and have written a few blog posts about Todoist. But a few weeks ago I installed Microsoft To Do and used it exclusively for a few days to see how it compared.

Within two days I returned to Todoist. I wanted to capture a few thoughts about why.

(Note: it would appear that either there was a significant update to Microsoft To Do in the last two weeks or my laptop was only able to install an older version because a few of the niggles I had with it appear to have been resolved in the latest version, which I installed on my desktop PC.)

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Groupy—grouped tabs for any application in Windows

Two Explorer windows (This PC and Downloads) grouped with tabs

Every now and then I discover a Windows utility that really makes my life easier and my tasks more productive. My latest discovery is Stardock Groupy.

Groupy allows Windows users to drag and drop multiple applications and documents together to group them into a tabbed interface for easy access and reference.

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The sentences approach to email

E-mail takes too long to respond to, resulting in continuous inbox overflow for those who receive a lot of it.
E-mail takes too long to respond to, resulting in continuous inbox overflow for those who receive a lot of it.

I often wonder how much time I’ve spent writing and responding to emails over the years. Perhaps five.sentenc.es may have a solution to reducing the amount of time spent in my inbox.

I got my very first email address in 1997 when I started my MTh in Ministry at the University of Edinburgh. It was [email protected]. Other than my fellow students, most of whom I saw on a day-to-day basis at New College, I only knew about four or five other people who had email back then.

Over the last few years I’ve made a concerted effort to reduce how much email I receive. I’ve unsubscribed from all but the essential email newsletters (and even then I could reduce things further, or move those to a different email account) and I now have a folder called “Action” in Outlook/Exchange where I store the emails that I need to reply to.

I quite like this ‘… sentences’ approach to writing emails, however. It offers four options:

According to these sites, the problem is that “email takes too long to respond to, resulting in continuous inbox overflow for those who receive a lot of it.”

Their solution: “treat all email responses like SMS text messages, using a set number of letters per response. Since it’s too hard to count letters, we count sentences instead.”

It’s certainly an interesting solution. I’m sure there are some situations where it won’t work, where you simply need to write more, where telephone or face-to-face conversations are not convenient (which may be a better forums for lengthier discussions).

I’m going to give this a go for the next month or so and see how I get on. Choose your weapon: two, three, four or five sentences.