Phone as notetaker, email as a journal, plus my own light version of GTD

I’ve been using a very light form of “Getting Things Done” (GTD) for a little over a year now. This has been for mail management and self organization both for work and personal aspects of my life.

For both of my work and life GTD systems I use an email inbox as my universal inbox (using separate mail systems for each.)

There have been a couple of nice corollaries from this setup. The first is that my iPhone’s mail application has become my note taking device for anything more than a couple of bullet points, where I would still use index cards. A good thing about this is that if I want to keep the note it’s already in electronic format.

Following on from this, my email accounts have effectively become my journaling system. You’d think for this I’d use a complicated folder or tag structure but so far this is not at all true. I put pretty much all mail (and by extension notes and journal entries) into one folder named ‘archive’ and then rely on search texhnologies later to find content. This is possible due to the effectiveness of Spotlight on the Mac (I use Entourage for work mail, which uses spotlight under the hood, and Mac mail for personal mail, switching recently from Gmail.)

The reason these things are possible are the ubiquity of mail these days. I’m sure blackberry users have felt this for a while, but being able to very easily read and write email, on or offline, for both my work and personal mail, has been worth my iphone’s cost alone. As an example I’m drafting this blog entry in a new mail on my iPhone on a plane, and I remembered to do it because I could read the reminder to do it in my local cache of my GTD ‘action’ folder. I know there are GTD-specific apps out there but for me mail is sufficient and always available, anywhere, and backed up locally and on servers I trust.

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