Information Overload

People today have lots to do, and lots to remember. Some have a system to keep all of this organized. I don't. I have 3 or 4 half-assed systems.

The first problem is "What data am I talking about" as there's a bunch of different types:

  • Do this tonight - These short-term reminders are things I mean to do tonight when I get home from work, or on Monday when I'm done with a weekend away. Regardless, these kind of reminders don't need to be kept longer than a few days. Ex: Download the XBox 360 demo for Resident Evil 5
  • Do this sometime - These are more long-term reminders to try something when I have time. This might not be acted on for days, weeks, or even months. Ex: Check out the Processing graphing language as mentioned on Coding Horror
  • Good to know - These pieces of data are notes that I might want at some point. They're not reminders to do something, but rather notes that might help with a current or future project. It might be a FAQ or walkthrough on how to get GWT to work correctly with Maven, or a security guide for cookies in web apps. These things might never be deleted, and should just disappear into a searchable archive (hopefully with some kind of tag or catagory support)

I've been trying to figure out what to do with these pieces of data. There's a bunch of options, some of which I'm partially using in my hodge-podge of systems:

  • Physical notes - I'm grouping any physical organizer / binder / notepad idea into the same system, because they have the same drawbacks. They don't work because I don't want to write down a url on a piece of paper while at work only to type it back into a browser at home when I'm doing whatever the note reminded me to do.
  • E-Mail - Sending an e-mail to myself works alright for Do This Tonight reminder because those things will be taken care of within a day. Do This Sometime and Good To Know reminders might not be acted on for weeks, and I like to keep a clean inbox, so I don't like keeping stuff like that around. If I archive it, then it's still around for Good To Know notes, and could be searched, but my tags list would skyrocket, and for Do This Sometime, I'd have to tag them somehow. It also seems to cross responsibilities of e-mail and personal notes, which rankles for some reason.
  • GMail Tasks - These are relatively simple, and show up in GMail, and in iGoogle (with the right widget), which makes them easy to input. They're not complex enough for Good To Know notes, and barely good enough for Do This Sometime notes.
  • Google Notebook - I've been using this for a while, but I can't seem to organize this properly either. It's alright, but there's no archive system. Either this doesn't have the right UI, or I'm just not using it correctly. It's kind of irrelevant because Google cancelled any further development on it.
  • Remember the Milk - I haven't tried this, but it's pretty popular. It's an online task list, so it might not be suitable as a general Good To Know info dump.
  • Blog - A blog could work for Good To Know information, and even Do This Sometime. It doesn't make as much sense for Do This Tonight reminders though. There's also usability issues. I often think of things at work. I want to be able to post a link and small note quickly so I'm not wasting time, and deal with it later.

For now, I'm using GMail Tasks for Do This Now tasks, and unexplored Do This Sometime tasks. Once I've looked into a Do This Sometime task and know enough to write something meaningful about it, I'll write a blog post about it. I'll also use the blog for Good To Know issues. If this works, great. If it doesn't, I'll blog about any new systems I come up with or find.