I’ve had a thousand different productivity setups since I started thinking about it strategically in 2007. I used to be hardcore GTD and used Omnifocus. Then I invented something less rigid when I switched to Evernote around 2009. I ditched Evernote a year or so later for Things, and then Todoist, etc.
For the past 6 months I’ve used a combination of Apple Reminders, Apple Notes, and Safari Reading List. When iOS 9 and El Capitan were announced, with improvements to all three tools, I knew any kinks I’d been putting up with would get worked out. Now that I’ve been using all three updates for about a week, it’s time to preach the merits of an all-Apple productivity system.
First, let me tell you about myself. I work as the Digital Director for an ad agency in Jacksonville, Florida. I’m also a dad with home duties and the solo-founder of TrainedUp with all the tasks that come with launching a new SaaS business. I have lots of inputs for tasks and ideas, so keeping it all organized is vital for my day-to-day success.
Second, the number one reason I use this system is that it works. It’s not powerful like Omnifocus or Evernote can be, so super users probably will find it lacking. Of course, Android users or PC users won’t find it useful, either. But if you’re on an iPhone all day, working from a Mac, and browsing on an iPad at night, you’ll find this system very smooth.
Now, onto the specifics.
Tasks go into Reminders.
My lists are Actions, Waiting, Someday, Wingard (my workplace), and Personal. Actions is my default list, so all new tasks are dumped there by default at the bottom of the list.
You’ll notice I don’t have a folder for Today. I use the Scheduled section in Reminders to identify what I should be working on next. Once a day, sometimes more often, I go into the Actions folder and schedule items for today. That puts them in the Scheduled view automatically. I only schedule a few tasks per day. When it’s empty, I add more.
Articles I want to read later go into Safari Reading List.
I use Safari Reading List to store all my “can’t read it right now” articles. It syncs nicely and I like Safari’s Reader Mode for distraction-free reading.
Articles I want to reference later go into Notes.
Once I’ve read an article and I want to store it for later reference, it goes into Notes on Mac/iOS. My folders are Notes, Content, How-To, Features, Projects Reference, and Wingard. New articles are either dropped in the Notes folder (which acts like an inbox) or the Reference folder.
Ideas for content I might create go into Notes.
I write a lot and the ideas for a piece of content rarely come when I’m sitting at my desk. Siri helps me articulate the general idea quickly into Notes from my iPhone.
Projects with multiple tasks go into Notes.
I don’t put projects in Reminders because Reminders is reserved for single-action tasks. The new Notes has a little checklist feature that’s perfect for tracking personal, multistep projects. (Yes, other notes tools have had this feature for a long time.)
Actual notes go into Notes.
Naturally, when I’m taking notes during a meeting or when I have an idea that’s more than just a sentence or two, I put those in Reference folder.
Blog post drafts happen in Notes.
It’s the simplest tool to draft blog posts and it allows me to edit from my iPhone. Drafts go in the Content folder.
New feature ideas and details go into Notes.
When I have an idea for a feature for TrainedUp or when someone sends me feature feedback, I put it in the Features folder.
Bugs go into Reminders and are given a priority.
When someone reports a bug or when I find one on my own, I put it into Reminders in the Actions folder and assign it a high priority level. I usually also schedule it for today or tomorrow since I don’t like to procrastinate on fixing bugs…even innocuous ones.
All notes, ideas, references, and drafts related to my workplace go into the Wingard folder in Notes.
My workflow is pretty simple.
If I’m at my desk, I’ll input new tasks or notes into their correct place immediately. When I’m not at my Mac, I generally use Siri to input new tasks and notes into defaults lists/folders and I’ll “process” them the next time I have a minute to do so. New Reading List items are saved as I go, which can be done from just about anywhere on Mac or iPhone since “Add to Reading List” is ubiquitous.
This is my system. It works for me and it’s free (aside from the Apple tax). I left out Gmail because my email load is much lighter than in days past. However, in the old days I used to get a couple hundred emails a day and I had a killer email management system in Gmail. Nowadays I get less than 50 per day, so it’s less necessary to be an email ninja.
I hope this was helpful for you!