Most efficient way to use EPIM

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kdgdr
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Most efficient way to use EPIM

Post by kdgdr »

Hello,

I've been using EPIM for a long time, and over the years I have been tweaking my use of EPIM. Sometimes because of new insights in how I could use EPIM, sometimes because of changes in new releases, be it new features, initial bugs or what not.
But still, I feel as if I'm missing something that may have been in front of me this whole time. Some obvious basic tric that I am overlooking. A game-changing aspect that leads to the most efficient use of EPIM.

I'm guessing some of you know this "If I could just ..."-feeling. Probably some of you have also stumbled upon some great "aha!"-finds.
Either way I hope you're willing to share your ideas on how to use EPIM in an efficient way, or suggest some improvements - big or small - in how I use EPIM.

I'm basically struggling with 3 things:
- efficiently filtering out ad-hoc overviews of what I would absolutely want/need to do (like say today, or this evening, or this week).
- as a result of that, I find it quite hard to plan additional things efficiently.
- last but not least, I'm having difficulties in keeping track of how things relate to one another, project-wise.

I'm guessing if I can't get the info out of EPIM the way I want it, I'm probably putting the info the wrong way in EPIM in the first place ...
So here 's how I do that - you'll find it's based on GTD and I hope you can point out some improvements for using EPIM more efficiently:

First of all I use EPIM Desktop as my main EPIM-tool to input and modify content. Then I sync one way with deletions from EPIM Desktop to EPIM Android via Wifi: this prevents data loss or other issues if something goes wrong sync-wise. So my EPIM Android is basically my "life manual" when I'm not at my home computer or office computer.

This is how I use EPIM Desktop:

EPIM-TODAY MODULE: I don't use that. It looks a bit too cluttered for my taste, and it doesn't have all the functionalities of the other modules. For example, there 's more todo-functionality in the todo-module than in the epim today-module, etc. ...

CONTACTS MODULE: obviously this is where I keep contact information.

MAIL MODULE: pretty obvious as well ...

PASSWORD MODULE: I don't use this, since I use other software for that.

TRASH: pretty obvious as well ...

NOTES MODULE: Here I only keep general reference information. No action items or time specific events go in here. Here I only store non-actionable information which I might need in the future.

CALENDAR MODULE: rule of thumb is that I use this only for things that absolutely must happen at the specified date or time; if not it 's too late and the opportunity has passed. So this is where I put meetings, birthdays, events to attend, etc. ... Every item I put here gets a category assigned to it, mostly the standard EPIM-categories like "Travel required", "Personal", "Business", ... I use the week view mostly. So basically this is strictly my "hard landscape".

TASKS MODULE: this is what I use most. It's where I put projects and actions that are not that strictly time specific.
Most importantly I have some basic contextual tabs (@home, @computer, @errands, @waiting for, @people, ...) so I can focus on the actions that I can do when I find myself in that context. An one-step action is entered as a root task, and it is always the single next action of a project, if more than one action is required. The project itself is entered as a child task, and always starts with "!p ". This means that (after syncing) on my android phone I get a plain contextual next actions-list for each context. If needed I can check which project a next action belongs to: it 's the child task. If an action is done, it is changed to the next "next action" and if needed, moved to the appropriate tab. Let 's say I would want to repaint the living room: I would then create the task "!p Repaint living room" as a child task of the first "next action" called "Spouse: discuss new colour for living room", which would be a root action on the "@people"-tab. After deciding on the colour, the (root) next action would change to "Paintstore: buy paint & brushes" and move to the "@errands"-tab. Automatically the project (child task) would move along with it. So at any given time you can see if a project still has a next action. Need an overview of the projects?: search for "!p". Action related info may go in the notes of the action task (like Dave 's phonenumber if the action is "Call Dave about ..."), project related info may go in the notes of the project task (child task)(like: "chosen colour is tomatosoup red" or some basic project planning like a list of future actions related to the project).
Next I also have a "Someday/Maybe"-tab where I put actions and/or projects on which I can not go forward yet.
There are also two INBOX-tabs:
- INBOX computer where I can quickly jot down some stuff, to be processed to the other tabs later on.
- INBOX phone where I input stuff in EPIM Android when I'm not at my computer. Before each sync, I check this tab on my phone, an manually input it into EPIM Desktop. I basically saves me from having to keep a pen & paper on me while I'm not at the computer...
Last there is also a "Tickler file"-tab: here I keep recurring todos as reminders, which could be like "wash car", "pay bills", "backup home computer", "work out", etc. ...

On the "tickler file"-tab, all the tasks have a start time and/or due time. I would like to do them at that time, but unlike calendar items they can also happen at another time if need be. This tab is like a daily checklist, although some actions on it are planned way ahead like "plan anniversary weekend", starting in 8 months & recurring yearly. Some of the actions on this tab are "displayed in calendar" if I would "really, really like to do them at that time".
On the other tabs, most of the actions/task do not have a start time or due time. Occasionally some of them do, in case I want to display them in the calendar for some reason, or in an attempt to order them chronologically if I feel the need to do so for some reason.

Tasks on the contextual tabs do not have categories assigned to them, since that tabs themselves are self-explanatory. Tasks on the "tickler file"-tab have the "weekly tickler" or the "monthly tickler" categorie assigned to them, in order to visually identify them if "displayed in calendar".

So there is some logic to how I input things into EPIM and it's certainly not at random.

But on the other hand - first issue - it might be too diverse to extract ad-hoc lists efficiently. Like what's on my plate today: some calendar items, some tasks (with dates) from the "tickler file"-tab and some tasks (without dates) from the contextual tabs I would also like to do, ... In computerworld, thats not uniform data to start filtering what you need ad-hoc, certainly not in EPIM Android ...

Second issue: reserving the calendar as strictly as possible for the real "hard landscape" is very efficient in case something pops up that's very time specific, like a new meeting you have to plan. But I have very few calendar items and a massive amount of tasks that are not strictly time specfic. So if I want to plan these tasks like for the next 3 days, I have to go through tons of actions on different tabs to decide which are most important or urgent ... I have also found that adding more items to my calendar (like "planning" the upcoming week by checking actions as "display in calendar") doesn't work for me, because before I know it my calendar becomes cluttered with good intentions, which are rendered useless first thing monday morning as someting unexpected gets thrown on my plate ...

Third issue: entering a project as a child task of the single next action is great for contextual todo-lists of single actions, plain and simple. But then again, most of my work consists of rather complex projects, and this MO allows only one next action per project. From this perspective it would be more logical to have a project as the "root task", with subprojects as child tasks, ... and finally the actions, serveral levels deep in the task structure instead of as a root action. But I've tried that before and I found it impossible to find and decide on simple actions in EPIM Android that way. Then you're digging through complex project management structures on a small size screen in search for some basic simple next actions.

I have tried interlinking items, but that didn't seem to work for me. First of all I found it restricting that it's only one level deep and not a treestructure like more detailed project planning. Let's say you have an item that serves as your project, and then you link 30 tasks to that - all 30 tasks will be an unstructured flat list on the related items tab of your project.
And second, I find it very risky since links sometimes get broken if you change items. You might find yourself changing a project name or goal as the project evolves and consequently losing touch with all 200 related items because the link no longer works ...

Hopefully I have succeeded to clearly describe how I use EPIM.
Please comment, suggest improvements, share some ideas or describe how you do it and why that works better.

Thanks in advance.
Kind regards.
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Re: Most efficient way to use EPIM

Post by ecsaltz »

I applaud your time and trouble to outline how you pivot your life around EPIM - pretty much as I do.

I just got some time to make some quick comments on my use of EPIM - it is a continual work in progress:

- Password module: Don't use it. Instead, I have a note with all my passwords. That's because that is the way it started before using EPIM.
- Email module: Don't use it. Instead, I use Microsoft Outlook, as I have for many years before using EPIM. That is not going to change anytime soon.
- Notes module: Every scrape of information of my personal and professional life.
- Contacts module: Use it as the name describes.
- Calendar module: Use it as the name describes.
- Task module: I use it strictly for organizing client projects. For my personal projects, I use the notes module - it just seems to work better than the task module for the purpose.

However, the most critical part of this is the one way synchronizing between my desktop EPIM and my Android cell phone EPIM. I can leave my house, go food shopping, visit a client, etc. - and all my information is with me. I don't have to depend on the Internet to remotely access my desktop EPIM.

As you said, there are probably better ways to use EPIM. I am grateful for the way I currently use it - it works. Someday, when I have time (!), I will play with features I don't use.
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Re: Most efficient way to use EPIM

Post by kdgdr »

Thank you for your comments ecsaltz!

Can you go a bit more into detail on how you manage:
- client projects in TASKS module exactly?
- personal projects in NOTES module exactly?
Because I guess it's my "project management" that needs more streamlining in EPIM.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Most efficient way to use EPIM

Post by justetina »

Why do both of you use only one-way synchronization? Have you had problems with data loss before? I find the 2-way (or more if I count desktop/portable, Android tablet and phone) sync to be critical in my workflow.
I moved a little back to my text files (org-mode) recently but still use EPIM as a back up.
kdgdr - my set up has GTD components; I'll try to explain how I use context when I get a chance to write it up.
But, briefly, I use the Tabs in tasks for Area of Focus ("large projects") and the Categories as context. I filter the categories to get the context list -- i sort the task list by the category column so Context are grouped together.
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Re: Most efficient way to use EPIM

Post by geistLich »

Big thanks to you all for your great input! Just starting to organize my work with EPIM and planning how to use it. Biggest scope for me is the task-planning for projects. Does some other have input for me / us other users planning on how to start efficient with EPIM, not to reinvent the wheel?

@Max / admin:
Or do you already have a "best practices page" for some destination types of users? I did not find other threads immediately.
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Re: Most efficient way to use EPIM

Post by Max »

geistLich wrote: Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:05 pm @Max / admin:
Or do you already have a "best practices page" for some destination types of users? I did not find other threads immediately.
EPIM is very versatile and there is a myriad of ways to use it, thus no single guide can and was created.
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Re: Most efficient way to use EPIM

Post by ecsaltz »

Max wrote: Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:03 pm
geistLich wrote: Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:05 pm @Max / admin:
Or do you already have a "best practices page" for some destination types of users? I did not find other threads immediately.
EPIM is very versatile and there is a myriad of ways to use it, thus no single guide can and was created.
It's been two years since I had posted to this thread on how I use EPIM. It is still the "center" of organizing my day, but the way I use EPIM has changed somewhat - as Max has said, it's versatile, and that allows for experimentation and change to suit new needs.

The single best practice I could suggest is: backup, backup, backup. :D
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Re: Most efficient way to use EPIM

Post by outlinerone »

As far as tasks/projects, I've started to use EPIM with the RPM (rapid planning method) made famous by Tony Robbins.
Have a table in a Note with columns: (will incorporate this with the Calendar function)
What Why and How
What is the result(s) wanted, the project(s) outcome
Why is the important purpose, your passion for doing something
How is the method to get there, your massive action plan
Focus on the outcomes and not the activities to get there.
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