My System overwhelms me! Help

There is my e-mail inbox (divided up between Action Items, Waiting For/Follow Up, and Read Through)

There’s my daily “Inbox Check” on todoist which includes going through my Amazon wish list and orders, My youtube watch later playlist, My dropbox camera uploads (screen shots of things I don’t want to forget to lookup), Twitter for tweets I’ve favortited, Reddit for latest posts, check the price of Bitcoin, Check paper inbox, Check desktop screen shots, pc downloads.

Evernote is my filing cainet where I store notes, but not files

Dropbox is where I store files but not notes

I use Todoist linked with Google calendar for tasks, because I like to have all my stuff on my calendar, but Google calendar isn’t good at check lists or screen shots.

Then once I know what I need to do for the day, I use the Brian Tracey A,B,C,D system. But then there is the Eisenhower matricx, and the WADE matrix.

It’s all so much. Please help me streamline this.


Hi Mike,

I have been there too.

For mail I use Sanebox, for (reference) files I use DevonThink. For notes taking I use Drafts 5 and OmniFocus as the heart of my system.

I was inspired by David Allen’s GTD Killer app design but adjusted it to my needs and to my value-driven work approach (not GTD alone) I have made a blogpost with videos and links to used Shortcuts macro’s.

It could be, at first read, a bit overwhelming but I have build it up my self per activity and started with dealing with meetings and it now has grown to a “complete” enabling system. You can read it here.

I hope it gives you some inspiration.


@mikehart82 — first and foremost thanks for sharing!

Like @bkruisdijk, I too have felt the system overwhelm. Many times.

First question I have is: what particular friction, frustration, or difficulty are you facing with your system? Stated otherwise — what specifically is not working?

Think about this then let us know! That’ll give us a good starting point to work from.

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It’s definitely a lot of “what inbox did I put this in?” “Where did I save that thing?” and then a lot of “where does this specific task get moved to?”

And then again once I have my to-do list for today, figuring out the best way to lay that out, and at a certain point, the process itself, while it eliminates things falling through the cracks fairly well, is exhausting.

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How many things are you realistically capturing and then actually needing to follow up on? And how many are more in the “nice to do” category versus “this is essential”?

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Hi Mike,

Keeping “the system” trusted requires for me a daily “Reveille process”, “closure process” and a weekly “debrief process”. Amongst other things, checking all the Inboxes, and process all the Inbox items. Get everything out of your head and being prepared for your meetings and having a workload which fits into your schedule for that day.

I have written a conceptual post about this here

But still, it feels overwhelming, costs energy and time but for me worthwhile to get a good night rest.

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Hi Mike; Your link will not open, can you send it again? Thank you

As a quick response I would seriously trim down your “Daily inbox check”. Ask yourself if you really need to go through your Amazon wish list, YouTube, or Camera uploads EVERY day, my guess is probably not.

Some of this you can also probably automate, push favourited items in Amazon or Youtube into ToDoist via IFTTT, Zapier or Integromat. ToDoist as a web based system has a lot of integration possibilities and its a lot easier to maintain lists of things to watch/buy/read in a task manager where you can have it populated automatically and just check it via a dedicated perspective/filter whatever.

Same applies to your inbox, if you can’t do it now push it to your task manager to process later, get it out of your line of sight and into a system where you can surface it when you can or need to actually do it.

If you can automate as much as possible, and push most things to your task manager then you really just need to maintain and check on your one trusted system (your task manager).

Time blocking for me has also worked quite well, although it tends to be a rough guide to my day rather than an exact science.,though I set aside time early morning and mid afternoon daily for email and other correspondence.

Specifics will be difficult because it sounds like you’re on a Windows system and I am on Mac, for me it’s a combination of Omnifocus for Task Management, DevonThink for File and Note storage, and Drafts for temporary notes processed once a week.

Hope that gives you some inspiration.