Getting organized for 2013

I’m always looking for ways to be more organized. I recently cancelled my 37 Signals Backpack account. I liked Backpack and used it for many years, but recently they have decided to stop development on the product and I just haven’t been using it enough to continue paying for the service. And Basecamp — even though I love it — is overkill for my personal needs right now.

When I started using Backpack, I used it for to-do lists, to transfer files between the office and home, making notes and keeping track of bookmarks. Over time, other services took over features I had originally used in Backpack.

Dropbox took over the file transfers. I love Dropbox and couldn’t imagine my workflow without it. So elegant and effortless. I have gotten by with the free version, but really should upgrade to the paid version simply because I love the service so much. If you don’t have a Dropbox account, you are completely missing out.

There are lots of good task management apps on the market, but I needed something that would sync easily between my office Mac, laptop, iPhone and iPad. Flow is an online app with a companion iOS app and has become my go to for keeping track of projects and to-do lists. At $10 a month, it’s not cheap but is well worth the investment.

I started using Google Reader to organize all the RSS feeds for blogs and sites that I read regularly. I’m not fond of the Google Reader web interface so I use Reeder for Mac and iOS for reading articles.

I still needed to find a service for keeping track of bookmarks and notes. I’ve tried lots of services over the past year and I eventually settled on Evernote.

 S creenshot of Evernote for the Mac
Screenshot of Evernote for the Mac

I first tried Evernote several years ago. And I didn’t like it. But recently, I gave it another shot and this time, it worked for what I needed.

Evernote is a web app that allows you to save notes and websites, organizing them into Notebooks. They have native apps for iOS, Mac and pretty much every other platform. Plus extensions for browsers that allow you to easily add pages to your Evernote account.

For websites, I just use the web clipper extension. And Reeder has the ability to send any story I read in the RSS feed straight to Evernote.

I often want to save tweets with links or photos. Most Twitter clients give you the option to email tweets so I email them to my dedicated Evernote email address. (You can easily add it to your contacts on the iOS and Mac versions.) I actually end up doing this quite a bit when I’m on my iPhone.

I set up an “Inbox” Notebook that I throw everything in. And then sort the notes into appropriate categories when I get a chance. Kind of like Inbox Zero.

I’m just starting to look at other ways to get notes and comments into Evernote. Evernote offers an app called Skitch that lets you add pictures and comments to your Evernote account. Squarespace’s new Note app lets you add notes straight to Evernote (plus Squarespace, Dropbox, Twitter and Facebook). Moleskine even sells an Evernote edition that you can use to catalog your sketchbook creations and even use labels to tag content.

Evernote has a section of the site called The Trunk dedicated to apps and solutions that work with Evernote. There are quite a few interesting solutions out there.

I haven’t upgraded to the Premium service yet ($5 per month or $45 per year). Most of what’s included is more than I need, but Notebook sharing is interesting to me. I could see sharing home ideas with my Pinterest-obsessed wife or project notes with other creatives.