fellow planner extraordinaire

I mentioned before that I’m hunting for the perfect to-do list or productivity app. Still looking. But I have found a fellow blogger that seems to share the same problem as I — spending so much time trying to arrange my life to be efficient and productive that I neglect just doing what needs to be done. I overplan and underproduce. Hopefully between the two of us we’ll find a solution. You can find his blog at www.43folders.com.

P.S. Even the name of his blog (43 Folders) is a reference to a productivity technique. The idea of using 43 folders — just plain, manilla, file folders — is that you have 31 folders for each day of the month and 12 folders for each month of the year. Then whenever you get a bill to pay or a task to do and you don’t want to take care of it today, you simply slip it into the folder of the day you want to take care of it this month. If you don’t want to take care of it this month, you slip it into the month folder of the month you plan to do it. Then each day you have to remember to look at that day’s folder and take care of everything in it. And on the 1st of each month, you open that month’s folder and put everything into one of the 31 day folders.

richard miller

elementary school fight songs

Today Brian wrote about the advantages of the iTunes Music Store, including the fact that smaller, less-known artists can short cut the music industry machine and make their music available directly to the people. It made me think (loose association, I know) about my elementary school fight song(s). I actually had four elementary schools – one in Texas, one in North Carolina, and two in Las Vegas. When we first moved to Las Vegas, we lived for half a school year in apartments on the east side of town behind Sam’s Town. The apartments were on Jimmy Durante Blvd., and I went to J. M. Ullom elementary school.

Sometime while I was there we had to learn the fight song (what do elementary school kids fight?) which went like this:

J.M. Ullom, J.M. Ullom, The best in the west are we.
J.M. Ullom, J.M. Ullom, The best that we can be.
The principal, the teachers, The students, and the staff
We all work together, In reading, writing, math

And that’s where my memory fades and I can’t remember the rest. But I found it funny that when we moved across town to Doris Reed Elementary, the fight song was the same!

Doris Reed, Doris Reed, the best in the west are we
Doris Reed, Doris Reed, the best that we can be

And as I understand it, everyone who went to elementary school in the Clark County School District had the same fight song. What a scam.

But, what an opportunity for some artist out there, or a band that wants to do a cover. If anyone evers decides they want to sing the Clark County School District Elementary School Fight Song and sell it on the iTunes Music store, you know there will be a market for it, what with every kid who’s ever gone to school in Las Vegas knowing the song.

richard miller

In search of the ultimate to-do list

It was sometime in high school that I got serious about being organized.* During my senior year, I had 8.5 x 11″ DayRunner inserts in my 3-ring binder that I used religiously. Every left page had Monday thru Wednesday and every right page had Thursday thru Sunday, and I wrote everything on those pages — events and tasks. When I completed a task or when an event had passed, I neatly crossed it out. If a week passed and I hadn’t completed some of the tasks, I crossed them out anyway and then rewrote them on the current week’s calendar. It wasn’t the most efficient system, but I stayed very organized.

Since then, I have tried SEVERAL different methods of staying organized but still haven’t found anything that sticks. Here’s what I’ve tried over the last 7 years:

  • 8.5 x 11″ DayRunner calendar inserts
  • Palm Vx handheld w/ both stock and 3rd party software, sync’ed with both Palm Desktop Software and Microsoft Outlook
  • Pocket PC w/ both stock and 3rd party software, sync’ed with Microsoft Outlook
  • Apple iCal, with the calendars automatically FTP’ed to a WAP-enabled web server so I can see my calendars on my cell phone
  • My own homemade web app which I can access from anywhere on the Internet or from my cell phone
  • blue sheets of cardstock paper folded in my shirt pocket
  • a pocket-sized calendar with perforated corners
  • a 59¢ hand-sized spiral notebook
  • a $4 hand-sized 3-ring binder

As for this week, I’ve been writing my to-do’s on a sheet from my brother’s humongous art pad (18 x 24″), folded four times into sixteenths so it [barely] fits into my back pocket. I kind of like it. I can see everything in one glance. If I back up a bit. And for my calendar I’m still using Apple iCal. But I’m sure it won’t be long until I try something else. I’m open to suggestions!

This week while I’m home for Christmas break I’ve been working at my dad’s office. Monday night when I was coming home from work with Michael, we tuned the radio to the Sean Hannity show, as we usually do, and listened to Colonel Oliver North who was covering for Sean. The Colonel was asking callers who had done their Christmas shopping and who hadn’t and was hypothesizing that the ladies had probably done it and the men probably hadn’t. And he was mostly right. I kept thinking, “poor guys that haven’t done their Christmas shopping — they need to get organized!” And while I hadn’t completely forgotten about it, the weight of it finally sunk in today that I still need to do MY Christmas shopping. How did I miss it?

* This summer my mother found a generic Franklin-day-planner-look-a-like that I used in 5th grade. I’m not sure that really counts. I had written in the phone number of 4 friends and 2 events on the calendar. So I didn’t use it much. Can you blame me? Who needs help staying organized in 5th grade?

richard miller


After introducing half a dozen friends to blogs and being a strong advocate for them, I decided it was time to walk the walk myself. So here is my blog. This actually wasn’t a spur of the moment or last minute decision. Starting a blog has been on the back-burner of my to-do list for a long time — for maybe as long as a year. I think the first time I heard of blogs was when Phil Windley came to my e-business lectures class in Feb 2003 and told us about his. I’ve read his blog ever since and found several more in the meantime.

For those of you unfamiliar with blogs, you’re not alone. “Blog” was the #1 most-searched term on Merriam-Webster’s website this year. (“incumbent” and “electoral” were #2 and #3.) A blog is an online journal written by one person and read by many people. It’s a platform, a soapbox, a chance to get your ideas out or just write about your day-to-day activities. You can write about anything you want and as often as you want. Some of them are meaningful; some of them stink. Google has some pretty good definitions of a blog. Some Fortune 500 CEO’s have blogs as well as Michael Powell, the head of the FCC, and some other prominent individuals. Prominent or not, blogs give you a candid look into the lives of the “bloggers” that write them.

Everything I’ve read about starting a blog suggests that when you start a blog, you should pick a topic for your blog and stick to it. I’m not sure I want to do that. There are way too many things I want to write about for me to simply choose one topic, or even one genre, and stick to it. I can see this blog including love and advocacy of Apple computers, advice and tips for Windows PC’s users (divest!), political commentary, business ideas, why I hope my marriage is as good as the 18 months with my motorcycle has been, occasional funny moments from my life, and more. Please don’t ask me to stick to just one topic! (one topic = one Lay’s potato chip.)

I just want to say thanks to all my friends who have blogs — I’ve really enjoyed what you write and I am glad to join your ranks now.

One down, 1000 to go.

richard miller