How I keep myself digitally organized

[This story was originally posted on my personal blog]

In this world flooded with events and information, to be able to track your tasks and maintain all your documents is really difficult. Back when I was introduced to computers in around 1997, I knew almost only one use for them: gaming. Soon I realized the potential of our non-organic friends when I started writing computer programs and using computers to store my data. Below are a few methods that have seemed to work for me to keep myself "digitally organized".

I maintain my daily tasks on Remember The Milk

I do not remember when the idea of a journal started for me, but there have been many changes in this area for me ever since. Long back when I used to have Windows Mobile Pocket PCs, I used to maintain a list of my daily tasks in offline applications where the only place to access them was on the actual device. It was a struggle to not lose my data when those fragile devices (I still like them) were to be reset and restored to a better state after every few months.

When I moved to Android) as my daily driver, I discovered AnyDo. Having my tasks synchronized and kept safe regardless of whether my device would work or not was a relief. Stepping into a little more serious GTD workflow, I moved to TickTick, which at that time was a little more extensible than AnyDo and I saw a lot of improvements in my tracking and workflow. Soon they added more features to the platform and restricted the ones available in the free subscription by changes like being able to create only a particular number of lists.

Back in 2016 on my 29th birthday, I switched to Remember the Milk, a name that I had been thrown off by since long but post the switch, it has been my daily driver (at least till the time of writing this article). Today, I have about a hundred tasks sorted into appropriate lists, ranging from large development plans to simpler ones like cleaning my car or charging my accessories. Many of them are repeated tasks, there are tags, custom smart lists, and the combination produces a very tailored package to keep me informed for all my main quests) and side quests for every single day.

Though the pro version brings in even more productivity features, I'm still using a free account and I do not plan to upgrade to Pro version given the price per year any time soon.

I have a well-organized tree of Google Chrome bookmarks

The internet is huge! Google Chrome has been very helpful for synchronizing my web bookmarks across at least my four computers and a phone. I have a massive collection of bookmarks arranged in a tree structure and just to avoid creating clutter, I keep trimming it down so that it does not go out of control.

It's great to be able to find your way around the web, on almost any computer that you come across (well only the ones connected to the internet, and obviously, how would you browse the web on a computer that is not online?).

I use Dropbox Paper for notes

There are a lot of numbers that we need a quick reference for in our daily lives. Also, there are notes, lists and some pieces of text that do not fit to be stored in tasks. Back in the day, I used to store them in Dropbox so that they are available on all my computers (and phone). There used to be just one problem: not being able to edit them on the go through an accessible interface.

I switched to Evernote (free account obviously) but faced limitation in the number of devices I could access the information on. It would only let me sync data between two devices on a free account. Soon, Dropbox Paper turned out to a surprisingly perfect replacement. They have an application for every platform that I need it on, along with their web application.

I store most of the numbers that I need frequently and it has been turning out to be very useful till now. I also have lists like Online Presence, which is one that I use to keep a track of my online accounts and to remember the places on the web where I need to update my information on the occurrence of a particular life event like location change or job change and even details like my online avatar. I also write text in there, for example, the one that you're reading right now.

I keep most of my documents on Dropbox

I still keep most of my documents on Dropbox, which I find convenient in terms that all my devices have the latest copy all the time (unless a device has not been able to connect to the internet, which is usually rare in today's age). These documents include the ones that are just for reference and do not require frequent updates.

Best part, I use soft-links to bring all those cloud folders together on my local file-system in a different structure if required.

I maintain my workstation configurations on GitHub

One other thing that used to be of concern to me was that the amount of time spent on setting up my computer used to be an investment with no assurance. In an event of disaster, who knows how much time it will take to configure everything back again and you may not be able to get back to that exact same point where you were when everything was all fine.

I started maintaining my Emacs configuration on GitHub out of a random idea soon to discover that I was living under a rock and it was already a trend. Storing my Emacs configuration online not only acted as a backup but also came with a few added benefits like being able to replicate the same configuration across my computers, furthermore, being able to share it with others. Extending this idea further, I created setup scripts for my Linux and Mac computers so that the applications that I need and most of the configuration that I have on my computers are easily recoverable with almost a single command. For obvious reasons, the configuration does not include my private keys, for which I use a private Dropbox folder.

I use pCloud to sync the rest of my data

For rest of my digital data including eBooks, development resources (free fonts, NCS sounds), pictures, saved games, I use pCloud. This is the type of data that I certainly need a lot of cloud space for. pCloud outperforms Dropbox in a few areas like being able to invite others to collaborate in your personal cloud space without taking up their own individual space quota. I have been using the Lifetime Premium Plus plan that provides 2TB of space with an equal amount of data-transfer bandwidth, which is more than sufficient for my use case.

Further...

I am still looking for alternatives to further improve my data management may be by reducing the number of services I am dependent on or something like that, I'll keep adapting.

programmer, gamer, trance-lover, nerd, organized, DIY, father, muslim

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