I recently found myself leading a productivity seminar once a month here in the Philadelphia area for professionals from a variety of different fields. Overachievers in the group share a common ability to stay focused, regardless of the systems they use. Music management professionals require this level of dedication to achieve great results for their clients.
There's no single system that works for everybody, and it's very easy to let yourself get caught up in the hunt for the perfect tools to stay organized. (I mentioned this a few days ago when writing about how to prioritize your day.) These tools work well for me:
I love Mark Hurst's book, Bit Literacy, because the author and I share a love of Macs and e-mail. Hurst filters the common ideas behind Getting Things Done through a music management professional's worst nightmare: a cluttered inbox. While Hurst operates his own task management web-app, I prefer to use ToodleDo.com in conjunction with a fantastic iPhone tool called 2Do.
When Lori and I reorganized our home office, we bought a big Billy bookshelf from Ikea and filled about half of the 25 squares with bankers' boxes. The boxes are color-coded: green boxes contain financial or business information for our archives, orange boxes contain photos and sentimental items, brown boxes contain other essentials, like spare keys and membership cards. The boxes keep clutter off our desks while adding color to the room.
Backpack, from 37signals. While I have used a few different tools to catalog all of my bits, Backpack still feels very right to me. I can create different pages for all of my projects, add files, checklists, and other information, and I can access it all from any web browser or from my iPhone. The killer app in Backpack is the reminder function. Even though I feel like I prioritize my day pretty well, I have programmed Backpack to text message me at crucial times that I need to be interrupted with a critical task or with a reminder to refocus during a lull.
What commitments do you need to make to organize your world? What challenges do you face? Tell us in the comments!