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A Professional Organizer’s Favorite Software

A Professional Organizer’s Favorite Software
Mind Manager

Call it an occupational hazard, but I really enjoy finding software that saves time and helps people be more productive. Here are a few things I have found that make my life and my client’s lives much easier.

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ActiveWords
I have been using this software for several years and don’t know what I would do without it. ActiveWords allows you to create your own computer shortcuts, just like making macros that work anywhere on your computer. It allows you to quickly paste blocks of text, open folders, open documents, launch programs, and go to specific web pages. You trigger the shortcuts by typing the ActiveWord that you choose, and then typing a trigger key, preset at F8. You can create text substitution shortcuts to plug in preconfigured blocks of text anywhere you like. For example, you could set up an ActiveWord “billofrights” and it would paste the entire Bill of Rights where you want it at any time. I use it to type my address and phone numbers, among many other things. I have documents I like to access quickly, like my collection of quotes, so I have it open by just typing “quotes” from literally anywhere I am working. I can open a browser and view my blog by just typing “blog.” There is so much to say about this application that it would take up an entire article by itself. I would recommend watching their tutorials for a quick orientation.

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SnagIt
Yes, you can take screenshots by using the “Print Screen” key, but once you experience SnagIt you will never be satisfied with anything else. You can capture a selected region of the screen, an entire scrolling window, and many other capture profiles. You can even have SnagIt record a video of your screen. You can have it delay the capture for a few seconds while you click a dropdown menu, and you can choose to have the cursor showing or not. Once the screenshot is captured, it goes into the SnagIt Editor, where you can easily annotate it with arrows, circles, callouts, text, and many other choices. SnagIt is particularly useful for communicating with other people such as a web developer, a marketing person, or a tech support person, showing them exactly what needs to be fixed or changed. It’s absolutely indispensable for writing procedures and instructions.

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MindGenius and MindManager
These two applications are for mind mapping, which is one of the best ways to organize your thoughts, take notes, plan something, or just brainstorm. These two applications are made by different companies and there are pros and cons to each one. I find MindGenius easier to learn, but MindManager has more advanced features and more integration with popular applications, and they have a Mac version. In both cases, you can export your ideas from the mind map into Word and other applications.

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Lorie Marrero is a Professional Organizer and creator of The Clutter Diet, an innovative, affordable online program for home organization. Lorie’s site helps members lose “Clutter-Pounds” from their homes by providing online access to her team of organizers. Lorie writes something insanely practical every few days or so in the Clutter Diet Blog.

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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