Help me get my thoughts organized - technology version

Klayfish

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 19, 2016
In an ongoing effort of self improvement, I find the need to develop a way to organize the thoughts, ideas, action items, etc...that swirl through my head and into my life. The reason I say this is one of my personal challenges is memory issues. A thought will pop into my head and a few minutes later it's gone. A conversation will be had and a day later I can only remember that the conversation occurred, not what was said. Yes, I am working on that. Additionally, with a very busy life, there are just so many things going on and so many different "topics" in my life that it can get overwhelming and hard to track/organize it all. The best example I can give is that maybe I'll have a conversation with one of my kids and the next morning a piece of advice I want to give them pops into my head, but they're already in school. By time I get home from work, that thought is long gone. It also may be a general topic that I want to organize thoughts around, but need someplace besides my noggin to keep it all. There are plenty of other situations, but that's the general concept.

At work, I'm organized. I work in front of a computer, and I have a large number of folders where things will go. A folder for company policies, a personnel folder, vendor folders, on and on.

How do I create something similar for my personal life? Yes, I can create a similar set up on a home laptop or something, but the challenge with that is two fold. First is time. When I'm not at work, I'm constantly on the go. Very little time to sit in front of a computer. Second is the memory issues I mentioned. If there's something I want to put into a folder on my laptop, I'll probably forget it long before I actually have time to sit in front of the computer. If I had a magic wand and could just make anything I want, I'm envisioning a system where when a thought/topic pops into my head, I can immediately "dictate" it into something (watch, phone?) and put it into a folder. Ideally that dictation would be talk to text so that it goes into the "folder" in written format, not audio, because I stink at typing on a phone. Plus it would be something I have easy and constant access to. I know it may not all work that simply, but that's the mental image I have.

Keep in mind that I'm a technology caveman. Not that I'm unwilling to learn, but I'm just not currently a high tech guy in my personal life, so break it down for me. My smartphone is 3 years old and was free when I got it, so it's very old technology. I don't currently wear a watch, so I know nothing about smartwatches. My phone needs replacing anyway, and I'm willing to consider a watch too if it'll serve my purposes. I know it'll require a financial investment and I'm OK with that, but I also have no desire to own a $500 phone or watch.

So, for those of you who are much more organized than I am in their personal life...which is probably everyone :D ...what suggestions would you have for me?
 

Praying Colonel

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 16, 2004
In an ongoing effort of self improvement, I find the need to develop a way to organize the thoughts, ideas, action items, etc...that swirl through my head and into my life. The reason I say this is one of my personal challenges is memory issues. A thought will pop into my head and a few minutes later it's gone. A conversation will be had and a day later I can only remember that the conversation occurred, not what was said. Yes, I am working on that. Additionally, with a very busy life, there are just so many things going on and so many different "topics" in my life that it can get overwhelming and hard to track/organize it all. The best example I can give is that maybe I'll have a conversation with one of my kids and the next morning a piece of advice I want to give them pops into my head, but they're already in school. By time I get home from work, that thought is long gone. It also may be a general topic that I want to organize thoughts around, but need someplace besides my noggin to keep it all. There are plenty of other situations, but that's the general concept.

At work, I'm organized. I work in front of a computer, and I have a large number of folders where things will go. A folder for company policies, a personnel folder, vendor folders, on and on.

How do I create something similar for my personal life? Yes, I can create a similar set up on a home laptop or something, but the challenge with that is two fold. First is time. When I'm not at work, I'm constantly on the go. Very little time to sit in front of a computer. Second is the memory issues I mentioned. If there's something I want to put into a folder on my laptop, I'll probably forget it long before I actually have time to sit in front of the computer. If I had a magic wand and could just make anything I want, I'm envisioning a system where when a thought/topic pops into my head, I can immediately "dictate" it into something (watch, phone?) and put it into a folder. Ideally that dictation would be talk to text so that it goes into the "folder" in written format, not audio, because I stink at typing on a phone. Plus it would be something I have easy and constant access to. I know it may not all work that simply, but that's the mental image I have.

Keep in mind that I'm a technology caveman. Not that I'm unwilling to learn, but I'm just not currently a high tech guy in my personal life, so break it down for me. My smartphone is 3 years old and was free when I got it, so it's very old technology. I don't currently wear a watch, so I know nothing about smartwatches. My phone needs replacing anyway, and I'm willing to consider a watch too if it'll serve my purposes. I know it'll require a financial investment and I'm OK with that, but I also have no desire to own a $500 phone or watch.

So, for those of you who are much more organized than I am in their personal life...which is probably everyone :D ...what suggestions would you have for me?
Klayfish, all I can say is if you find something that works well for you, please let me know what you found. I've tried a variety of things, including my iPhone Notes and Reminders apps, an app called any.do, and EverNote. They all work in different ways and work OK, but I probably have a variety of things spread across all those apps and still forget about some things, too, so I'm not sure I'm any better off now than I was when I was just working from memory.
 

FlightlessDuck

Y kant Donald fly?
Joined
Jun 20, 2006
I have several suggestions, depending on the organization you need.

First, consider a note app that you can access on your phone and your computer. You can jot down notes when you think of them then come back to them later. Like EverNote or Google Keep or something else. You can also share these notes with other people. My wife and I use Google Keep for todo lists, grocery lists, etc.

If you aren't using an online calendar yet, do that too. We have used Google Calendar for years. Shared family type stuff goes on a specific calendar that everybody in the family has access to. Has the kids work schedules, when we are doing volunteer work, etc.

If you also want to organize tasks to keep track of things you want to do and what progress you made, you might want to consider implementing a personal project management system, like Kanban. Kanban is a project management framework used at lots of different companies. Tasks are divided into "swim lanes", where things are marked as ToDo (or "backlog"), In Progress, and Done. The trick is not to have more than 2-3 things in In Progress at once. And make your tasks small, bite size pieces. can that be accompolished in one sitting. Like "clean the house" is fine, but "totally clean out the house (Marie Kondo)" should get broken down to "clean out the living room", or even just"Clean out the end tables". Here's a good article about "personal" kanban: https://lifehacker.com/productivity-101-how-to-use-personal-kanban-to-visuali-1687948640
 
  • Christine

    Would love to be able to sit on
    Joined
    Aug 31, 1999
    I don't have any advice but just wanted to say that I've noticed the same things in the last couple of years with having a really good thought and then it just completely leaves me.

    For me, I am blaming it on some sort of aging and, due to menopausal issues, a real lack of quality sleep. It seems I get MUCH better if I'm sleeping well. I realize these factors aren't YOUR factors and I'm very thankful my kids are grown and I don't have to parent with this memory slippage, just wanted to commiserate!
     

    Searc

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 12, 2018
    In an ongoing effort of self improvement, I find the need to develop a way to organize the thoughts, ideas, action items, etc...that swirl through my head and into my life. The reason I say this is one of my personal challenges is memory issues. A thought will pop into my head and a few minutes later it's gone. A conversation will be had and a day later I can only remember that the conversation occurred, not what was said. Yes, I am working on that. Additionally, with a very busy life, there are just so many things going on and so many different "topics" in my life that it can get overwhelming and hard to track/organize it all. The best example I can give is that maybe I'll have a conversation with one of my kids and the next morning a piece of advice I want to give them pops into my head, but they're already in school. By time I get home from work, that thought is long gone. It also may be a general topic that I want to organize thoughts around, but need someplace besides my noggin to keep it all. There are plenty of other situations, but that's the general concept.

    At work, I'm organized. I work in front of a computer, and I have a large number of folders where things will go. A folder for company policies, a personnel folder, vendor folders, on and on.

    How do I create something similar for my personal life? Yes, I can create a similar set up on a home laptop or something, but the challenge with that is two fold. First is time. When I'm not at work, I'm constantly on the go. Very little time to sit in front of a computer. Second is the memory issues I mentioned. If there's something I want to put into a folder on my laptop, I'll probably forget it long before I actually have time to sit in front of the computer. If I had a magic wand and could just make anything I want, I'm envisioning a system where when a thought/topic pops into my head, I can immediately "dictate" it into something (watch, phone?) and put it into a folder. Ideally that dictation would be talk to text so that it goes into the "folder" in written format, not audio, because I stink at typing on a phone. Plus it would be something I have easy and constant access to. I know it may not all work that simply, but that's the mental image I have.

    Keep in mind that I'm a technology caveman. Not that I'm unwilling to learn, but I'm just not currently a high tech guy in my personal life, so break it down for me. My smartphone is 3 years old and was free when I got it, so it's very old technology. I don't currently wear a watch, so I know nothing about smartwatches. My phone needs replacing anyway, and I'm willing to consider a watch too if it'll serve my purposes. I know it'll require a financial investment and I'm OK with that, but I also have no desire to own a $500 phone or watch.

    So, for those of you who are much more organized than I am in their personal life...which is probably everyone :D ...what suggestions would you have for me?
    The easiest answer is simplify your life and cut out things that suck your time away (within reason). Not every kid has to be in every activity. There is only so much time in every day.

    A smartphone or smartwatch with a Notes app you can write with your voice is probably the second easiest solution, which will require a financial commitment from you.
     

    Lynne M

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Nov 4, 2001
    I do some of what you're talking about with a combination of apps. I use Evernote to collect random bits of information, like the instructions for resetting the oil change reminder in my car, or curtain measurements, or the model numbers of my kitchen appliances.

    For those spur of the moment things that you want to remember, I use Siri on my iPhone with Apple's Reminders app. You can say something like "Hey, Siri, add 'birthday card for Bob' to my Errands list." You can even say "Remind me to call Jill at 8 pm" or "Remind me to take out the trash when I get home." Here's a good overview of how that all works.


    And of course, I'll add things to Reminders directly by typing on my iPhone. Reminders automatically syncs with all of Apple's devices (iPads, iPhones, Apple Watch, Macs), and you can access it on the iCloud website on a Windows computer.

    You say your smartphone is 3 years old. Is it an iPhone? I think that would put it around an iPhone 7, so you might have Siri and Reminders already. I'm not familiar with Android phones, so I don't know if there's anything similar there.

    If you'd have to get a new phone and you do want an iPhone, most providers let you "rent" the phone nowadays. I have a Sprint plan that charges a monthly fee for the phone, and I'm entitled to upgrade to a new iPhone every year.
     

    Cindy's Mom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2005
    I keep all my personal stuff at work. When I have to add something to the family calendar, I email myself from my phone (personal email) to my work email, and then I calendar it when I get in the next day. I am very tech savvy but I just do not like a e-calendar (which is ironic, because my job is a scheduler and I manage 5 exec's calendars). I use monthly tabbed calendar (one month/2 pages) and I just write everything in. I take pics of it on Friday text it my DH and the kids. I tworks for us.
     
  • lifesavacation

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 24, 2016
    Gone are the days of me having a razor sharp memory. I now use the note app on my phone. Even if I think I will remember it, I still write it down if it’s something to be recalled later.

    People are so busy these days and are constantly multitasking. That’s what I attribute the memory lapses to.
     

    Pea-n-Me

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 18, 2004
    I agree with the Notes feature on the iPhone, which I use myself. I think many of us have this, to a degree today, especially when we have demanding jobs and are trying to manage a busy family on top of other responsibilities and stressors as well.

    But I do think other things can commonly come into play at middle age, too, such as stress and mood disorders (like depression or anxiety), sleep issues (like sleep apnea, where there can be a severe lack of REM sleep, which can be like having a blood alcohol level of ,08), nutritional problems, hormonal issues, and many other medical conditions, which is my way of saying it wouldn't hurt to talk to your doctor about this, either.
     

    Praying Colonel

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 16, 2004
    After reading this thread I found this iMore article on how to take, add to and read notes using Siri:


    I'm sure Android has a similar process.

    I think I'm going to try and use this more.
     
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2015
    Sometimes what I do for quick things I actually text myself the information. I wouldn't use it for long things, since you mention typing on a phone, but something quick and easy.

    I do use Samsung Notes for things over the years (I've have several Samsung phones over the years and the information has transferred between the phones). Most of the time it's random products I've kept track of but it came in handy when we had our house built and I used it a lot for my trip report from my WDW/USO 2017 trip :)

    While not perfect because there can be mishearing and misspelling but talking into your phone might help for some things. You could re-read over it and correct any errors but that might be good for longer things. I feel like most note taking type apps have a way to utilize the voice recording.

    FWIW my husband has always sucked at remembering things lol. His family says it runs in their family..and yeah having been around them long enough it does lol. It's usually the little things my husband forgets. I'm the one with better memory. Events and whatnot I've just gotten used to immediately adding it into my phone's calendar and last year we got a shared calendar phone app so we can add events to it. Now he doesn't have to ask me "Do we have something going on on..."

    Maybe really old school these days but there are pocket style notepads that might help temporarily in keeping track of some things or just as a back up. Then you could later on transferred that to whatever app or device you want. IDK just an idea.
     
  • sk!mom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 30, 2000
    I’ll be another vote for iPhone notes and reminders. Siri can add them for you if you don’t like typing.
     

    Klayfish

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 19, 2016
    Thanks all. Lots of good input. I agree multi tasking and being so busy leads to a lot of the challenges that a lot of us have, myself included. Sleep deprivation is also a huge problem, and I'm in that boat too. They are definitely topics I'm trying very hard to address because I have no doubt they contribute heavily to this, as well as other things. But I'm also being realistic. My life just won't get to the point where I get a solid 8 hours of sleep every day and I don't have a lot going on. And that's by choice. I am happy to do the things I do, and give my kids the opportunities they have. It's really finding a balance that's important. And yeah, my memory isn't good regardless.

    My phone is an Android, an Alcatel to be specific. If I upgrade, it definitely won't be an Apple product. I'm not a fan, to say the least. I also am just not on board with the idea of leasing or renting a phone. I think that's nuts. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be negative. I'm fine buying a new phone, or a smart watch, I want to. But I'd want to spend $100-$200ish on an Android that will do what I need it to do, and I own it. Even my cheap old Alcatel allows me to do talk to text, which I utilize often.

    We currently have an app we use for calendar/appointment/list reminders. It's called Cozi. I like it. I'm more thinking along the lines of storing thoughts, ideas, questions, comments I have on different topics and creating a "folder" for each of them that is easily accessible from my phone (if this is even possible). One folder could be financial, one for each of my kids, one for self improvement thoughts (which could have several folders itself), one for work, etc... Sort of like creating a journal of things for each of the topics. I've got a good example. Llet's say I wanted to create a folder titled "Ways to save for our next WDW trip". If a random thought pops into my head...'cause that's bound to happen :crazy:...I can memorialize it and put it in that WDW "folder". I'd want to do that because it may not be a thought I can/want to act on that very moment, but also don't want to forget it. I can then go back a week (or whenever) later and that thought will still be there.

    I hope I'm making sense, sorry if I'm being random. But perhaps that's the perfect word, "random". How do you organize random thoughts that come into your mind that you want to keep for later...and have them organized so they're easy to find?
     

    Lynne M

    Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Nov 4, 2001
    Evernote might work for you, and they do have an Android version, though I don't know if it would be compatible with your phone. And I don't know if there's a way to make entries by voice on the Android version.
     

    sk!mom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 30, 2000
    I'm more thinking along the lines of storing thoughts, ideas, questions, comments I have on different topics and creating a "folder" for each of them that is easily accessible from my phone (if this is even possible). One folder could be financial, one for each of my kids, one for self improvement thoughts (which could have several folders itself), one for work, etc... Sort of like creating a journal of things for each of the topics. I've got a good example. Llet's say I wanted to create a folder titled "Ways to save for our next WDW trip". If a random thought pops into my head...'cause that's bound to happen :crazy:...I can memorialize it and put it in that WDW "folder". I'd want to do that because it may not be a thought I can/want to act on that very moment, but also don't want to forget it. I can then go back a week (or whenever) later and that thought will still be there.

    How do you organize random thoughts that come into your mind that you want to keep for later...and have them organized so they're easy to find?
    I accomplish those tasks with the Notes and Files apps on my phone. I mostly use notes to keep it centralized. I currently have 34 notes. Everything from a list of books I want to read to my DD’s wedding budget to a rough draft of the letter I want to give her on her wedding day to passwords I need to remember. These are all separate and titled for easy finding and can be made or updated using Siri.

    I’m only familiar with iPhone but since the smart phone industry is so competive and note taking apps are so low tech I would imagine that all have some form of notes and files.
     

    amberpi

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 13, 2012
    I have tons of ideas as my family is chaotic and our custody schedule is the most confusing (even the mediator said so) one I'd ever heard of on top of all the normal stuff. We invested in phones that all easily sync (my DH had an Android - yuck!) and immediately make notes in the calendar constantly or we'd forget something, but I don't think that budget is realistic. It might also help to have your wife equipped with the same tech. It sucks that it's pricey, but I think it's just one of those things that is what it is, ya know? Good luck to you though, I know your kids do a zillion sports - I don't think you've ever mentioned art or music, etc. classes too - and that alone has to be a lot.
     

    Klayfish

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 19, 2016
    I have tons of ideas as my family is chaotic and our custody schedule is the most confusing (even the mediator said so) one I'd ever heard of on top of all the normal stuff. We invested in phones that all easily sync (my DH had an Android - yuck!) and immediately make notes in the calendar constantly or we'd forget something, but I don't think that budget is realistic. It might also help to have your wife equipped with the same tech. It sucks that it's pricey, but I think it's just one of those things that is what it is, ya know? Good luck to you though, I know your kids do a zillion sports - I don't think you've ever mentioned art or music, etc. classes too - and that alone has to be a lot.
    I've never really shopped for phones, as I always just use the basic Android that is free. I'm happy with the talk to text it has, but there's no app or program I've found to accomplish what I need. The Notes and Files sounds like it may be a decent fit, I'll have to look into it.

    We're primarily a sports family...specifically lacrosse (DS11 still plays football, but that may change). They don't do any art/music type classes, not their thing. But adding the sports themselves with the extra training that we invest in and it's a madhouse.
     

    amberpi

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 13, 2012
    I've never really shopped for phones, as I always just use the basic Android that is free. I'm happy with the talk to text it has, but there's no app or program I've found to accomplish what I need. The Notes and Files sounds like it may be a decent fit, I'll have to look into it.

    We're primarily a sports family...specifically lacrosse (DS11 still plays football, but that may change). They don't do any art/music type classes, not their thing. But adding the sports themselves with the extra training that we invest in and it's a madhouse.
    The tech offered by iPhones is just way easier for a non-techie IMO. Of course my husband at the time spoiled me by getting me the first iPhone the first day or so it was released so I've been a devotee, but since you've admitted to being non-techie (which I am) the platform is just so very user friendly. If you go hard like in our house everything is Apple and it all talks to each other seamlessly, no synching, no mussing, no fussing. If I didn't have nerve damage in my left hand, I think I'd LOVE one of the watches. Based on what you describe being able to speak into your wrist or just asking Siri remind you to tell DD this thing tonight at 6 sounds like it'd help you a ton. I have had the iphone X for a while now and it's been great.

    Apple products are pricey though. Just no way around that.

    I know your life sounds so full. A lot of parents do ALL THE THINGS, so I was just speculating that they might have more on them than even just sports (not that it's just sports, you know).
     

    tcufrog

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 18, 2012
    I keep a Google Calendar that is color-coded for each family member and has a whole family color. It's also linked to my DH's work Outlook calendar. I love tech and always have my Apple Watch on. I've tried a variety of apps for note taking and to do lists and I've finally admitted that I'm an analog person when it comes to that. I keep a small notebook, pen and to do list pad in my purse. This to-do list is perfect for me because it shows everything I need to urgently do on one page and categorizes the tasks into types of actions. I do use an app called Packing Pro for trip packing lists though.
     

    jojo9610

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 4, 2008
    Have you looked at One Note? It is organized by notebooks and inside of each notebook you create file folders. There is both android and iOS versions. I use this both at work and for personal use.
     

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