ia play

the good life in a digital age

four tools for managing thoughts

A consultant I’m working with is loving Compendium. Weird to see something I’m used to in the Open University universe in such a commerical setting. Surely they ought to be forking out for some expensive sparkly software?

Anyway, that started me thinking about tools for organising your thoughts and the stuff I normally use:

  1. A3 paper -  I swear I think differently off-line. Good pen, nice paper and lots of space. I don’t keep the paper though. It either goes in the compost (and eventually becomes tomatoes) when the thinking is done, or gets converted to electronic form for keeping. Short term management only.
  2. Google Notebook – every unstructured thought gets dumped in Notebook, usually via the Firefox plug-in. When I’m online they go straight in but if I’ve been musing on paper in meetings then I upload later. Eventually they evolve into a loosely structured set of notebooks and sections. I tidy up a bit but my notebook has a shockingly mixed bag of categories and still has “my first notebook” aka the miscellaneous one. Which is an IA sin.
  3. Delicious. ‘Only’ a bookmarking tool but actually a repository of half-formed thoughts and some more concrete ideas. I make notes against some of the bookmarks but everything gets tagged. Unformed ideas get big general tags but as ideas get beaten into submission the tagging gets more focused.  Again used mostly via Firefox plug-in.
  4. FreeMind. For mindmapping software I’ve used Mindmapper and Inspiration in the past and I’d looked into Compendium. Visio will do at a pinch. But FreeMind came ready installed on my EEE so I’ve been using that lots recently. And quite happily so.  Some of the more useful A3 scribbles have ended up in Freemind.

Google Notebook in particular has helped me get to Desk Zero (well, almost). The scarily clear desk does help me stay organised and is also a bit of internal marketing. Everyone seems gob-smacked that I keep it clear and this seems to establish my credentials for sorting out our digital mess. And makes my colleagues think I’m a bit of a weirdo.

Written by Karen

May 6th, 2009 at 6:50 am

Posted in gtd,inspiration