What System Do You Use To Manage Your Life?

Specifically, I am posing this question to tech entrepreneurs who have one or more early stage companies to manage and demanding personal responsibilities. One of my goals is to create a framework that helps tech entrepreneurs free time to focus on creative and strategic activities. Following is a description of the current system I am using.

Currently, the systems I am using are: iGoogle, Google Calendar, Google Mail, Google Docs, BackPack, BaseCamp, HighRise and the USB Version of Roboform. I also use MindMeister for online brainstorming.


The dashboard is the link to the rest of the system. It is the starting point for the process.

iGoogle is my dashboard. From any computer, iGoogle allows for quick access to the links that make up my system with the Google Bookmarks widget. I also have widgets for Notes, World Clock and Weather on the first home tab.

I have additional tabs for Reference and Leisure material. The reference tabs contains widgets for Wikipedia, (which includes a Thesaurus), and Google Maps. The leisure tab contains widgets for Word of the Day, How to of the Day, Interesting Photos of the Day and Quotes of the Day.

Any web based bookmarking system ( such as ) so that you can easily get to all the key elements of your system easily from any Internet connected computer will suffice. I use iGoogle for the extra features mentioned above. is a good alternative to iGoogle.


No, not the Linux Kernel…not that there is anything wrong with that. The kernel I am talking about here, is where I list procedures and checklists that I will re-use. I store these inside BackPack on a page that I have titled @@Kernel.

[tip] The two @ signs insure that page is always at the top of my list of pages.

Each procedure is stored as a BackPack note and each list is stored as a BackPack list. Once the list grows out of control, I may adopt a naming convention, something like @@Kernal – Travel, @@Kernal – Daily Routines, etc… This is easy to implement later, since BackPack now supports the easy transfer of information between pages.


I use BackPack pages as To-do archives. There is a default Inbox page is useful for quickly dumping ideas when I’m mobile, that I categorize later. Usually, I will add to the Inbox by e-mailing that page from inside GMail. Otherwise, I use a pocket sized Moleskine notebook to capture notes and ideas the old fashioned way.

I have named the following pages in my BackPack, in the tradition of the GTD: @@Today, @Anywhere, @Calls, @Errands, @Home, @Online, @Projects, @Read/Review, @Reference and @Templates. I’m sure there will be more as time goes on.

[tip] The best way to store tasks that require some detail is with a note, since you can attach a description. I have tried storing tasks using lists, but you can not move items from within a list outside of a page without moving the whole list.

The @Templates page includes lists and notes that reoccur on my @@Today page, which is the place for all the critical issues that must happen today.

The rest of the categories are standard GTD items.


The daily short term review is the first action of the day (or previous night). I like to perform the review at night before sleep, but that is not always convenient. In the worst case, I will do the review in the morning before I start the day (resisting the impulse to check e-mails).

I keep the procedure in my @@Kernel page and it contains the following list:

Keep this in mind throughout the process: Which items MUST be done today

  1. Google Calendar
  2. BaseCamp Milestones
  3. Delegated BaseCamp Milestones
  4. HighRise Tasks
  5. Delegated HighRise Tasks
  6. Incomming Quick Review
  7. Organize and Prioritize in BackPack

As I go through this list, I move any must do today items to my @@Today page in BackPack.

I use Google Calendar to manage the hard landscape, e.g. fixed time appointments and items that must be complete on that given day or else the planets will collide. BaseCamp is the system our team uses to manage projects, and since I manage some of the projects, I need to keep an eye on the delegated milestones.

[tip] I only use milestones in BaseCamp as opposed to To-do items, because I need to be able to attach a due date. A big missing feature in BaseCamp is the start date. Without the start date, it is difficult to determine what is currently being worked on. We overcome that issue currently with 15 minute daily audio Skype team meetings.

I use HighRise to manage contacts collaboratively with our team. Integration with BaseCamp, for the tasks at least, will be very helpful but is not currently implemented. For now, its an extra place I need to check.

[idea] I am considering creating a dashboard with the BaseCamp API along with the Google API to aggregate this checklist onto one page that contains elements that are easy to plug into the @@today page.

The Incoming quick review consists of checking my physical inbox, e-mails and voice messages for urgent tasks that must be done today.

Finally, I take a look at the tasks I have accumulated on the @@Today page and prioritize via drag and drop. On the @@Today page I have three dividers, labeled Today, [Tomorrows Date] and Refile. Where the refile section is for items that come up that do not have to be done today. Those items will be plugged back into the system during the next daily short term review.


My weekly review is based on the GTD model. I perform the following tasks according to my checklist on the @@Kernel page:

  1. Loose papers
  2. Process my notes
    1. Journal entries
    2. Meeting notes
  3. In-depth incoming processing
  4. Review previous calendar data
  5. Review upcoming calendar
  6. Review family calendar
  7. Review projects
    1. Make sure they all have a next action or are placed in the someday/maybe list.
    2. Review project next action lists
  8. Review Waiting For Lists
  9. Review someday / maybe list
  10. Brainstorm
  11. Review the previous weeks goals and create goals for the coming week

The basic idea here is to get everything that has an action associated with it into your system so that you can properly prioritize and execute.


I aim to perform a long term review once a month or at least once a quarter. I take care of the following items on my checklist during the long term review:

1. Review projects and perform vertical thinking and planning for the most important projects
2. Review and adjust 1 – 3 year goals
3. Review and adjust 3 – 5 year goals


On the road, I typically have my laptop with a Verizon card which always keeps me connected. When I don’t have my laptop I operate using a Pocket PC with Pocket IE. I found that for the best interaction with the online services, the Opera mobile browser is at the top. But that may change with Windows Mobile 6 and its new version of IE.


I operate primarily from the @@Today page in BackPack, checking e-mail, voicemail and Skype periodically, depending on the level of focus needed for the current task and if I am expecting and important message.

With the @@Today list already prioritized, I focus on each task in sequence. After finishing each item I will re-evaluate and then come up with the top three things I should be working on in order of priority next.

However, many times after all the above preparation I find myself operating more on intuition than ever before. Perhaps its the achievement of the state that David Allen talks about when he says “mind like water”.


These books and CD have been key factors in shaping the philosophy and implementation of this system.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Anthony Robbins Get the Edge – CD
Time Power: A Proven System for Getting More Done in Less Time Than You Ever Thought Possible
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

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