We need Tools to manage our Tools


Planning these days is made easier by the cornucopia of organizational tools at our disposal, right? Am I right? Sadly… no.

The trouble nowadays is that there is such a vast array of tools at our disposal that we end up being very fragmented in our approach to getting organized. This gets further compounded when we are trying to organize details as a group. Each member of a group will have their own pet tools and styles for how they want the group to rally and organize. Planning efforts can become extremely fragmented and you now need a tool to manage the tools. Ahhhhhhhhhh! *^&%#$@! There goes the neighbourhood.

I am in the middle of planning a trip to Europe with a couple of other family members and we are struggling to get focus on the basics of the What, When, Where, Who, and Why of the trip. I am not one of these OCD peeps that want to plan each minute of my vacation, just a basic outline so we can draft a rough itinerary. All three of us are compatible in this regard as well so planning should be simple, ‘n’est pas?

Last weekend I was trying to get a composite view of our trip and realized how fragmented our communications and planning had become. It made me realize that we live in a time of great opportunity to be organized, but that opportunity is often not capitalized. Here are the elements of our current trip plan:

  1. Paper notebook with ideas for the trip. This was supposed to be a single safe source for ideas and notes.
  2. A Paper map hanging on our wall with some stickers for possible locations to visit.
  3. Paper calendar for drafting a rough itinerary.
  4. Scraps of paper with note fragments.
  5. A discussion thread on http://forums.bixby.ca/ with collected notes and ideas.
  6. My email inbox
  7. Kathy’s email inbox
  8. A communication thread on Facebook between Kathy and I.
  9. A communication thread on Facebook between Krystal and I.
  10. A communication thread on Facebook between the three of us.
  11. A Google Doc on Google Drive with some collected notes.
  12. A Google Map with pin points and notes for the trip.
  13. A collection of notes and scribblings from various phone calls and Skype conversations.

This all may sound silly, but it is in fact a reality of the this day and age. Without a disciplined approach to focus on one or two planning tools, efforts can become very cumbersome and hard to manage. This is not a testament about the three of us, it is just a reminder that focus is our friend. All of the above notes and tools just evolved organically out of our excitement to plan a trip and each person was left to think and plan according to their vision of how to organize information. It is quite amusing when you step back and look at it with the detachment of looking at a crime of communication in which all parties are complicit.

Another important reminder for me that focus is needed from the very start on ventures such as these. In the end, it really does not matter what tool or tools you choose, but it is important to choose a couple and maintain your discipline to use them to their full potential.

There are LOTS of tools in the toolbox, but we only have TWO hands in which to wield them.


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