Calming the Virtual Whirlpool

Disorganization and confusion can be two of the worst, if not most underrated, enemies of the Internet marketer. Yet, in the battle against complexity, our most powerful tool is its opposite – simplicity. Some tools are so simple, that it’s easy to overlook how powerful they can become. Here is an example of one.

Disorganization and confusion can be two of the worst, if not most underrated, enemies of the Internet marketer. Yet, in the battle against complexity, our most powerful tool is its opposite – simplicity.

Some tools are so simple, that it’s easy to overlook how powerful they can become. Here is an example of one.

If you don’t feel like buying a hundred fridges to store all of your virtual post-its, notes, lists, plans, ideas, links, and other tidbits of vital information, there are some simple and user-friendly alternatives.

One which has become my personal favorite is called Action Outline. The structure is basically as follows (please see this screenshot as well):

  • Each outline in the program has its own tab along the top, and you can click on different tabs to navigate between different outlines.
  • Within each outline there is a “tree” hierarchy of nodes long the left hand side, where you can list out items, and assign sub-categories and “sub-nodes” below each “root item.”  You click to expand and contract, just as you would in a file structure in Windows Explorer.
  • On the right hand side of the screen is an area where you can enter your notes, data, or even entire articles, to correspond with each node. This area includes basic formatting options. So for example, if you have a “to do list” which includes a list of articles you want to write, you can write the articles themselves right there in your “to do list.”
  • As you can see from the screenshot, you can have several outlines open at the same time, each with their own hierarchy of notes.  This means you can basically access all of your outlines through one desktop shortcut.
  • Most of the navigation can be done with a few keys – such as Enter, Insert, Tab, Delete, F2, and Space Bar.
  • You can flag items with different colors, or mark them as “done.” You can drag and drop items to different nodes or even different outlines, and use the arrow keys to move items up, down, left, and right.
  • You can save all changes to all outlines, with one click.
  • If you restart your computer, the next time you open Action Outline, all of your open tabs will be automatically restored exactly as they were when you left them.

Examples of Items and Data I Store in this Program:

  • Project and task management lists (formerly I used another software for this). This includes everything – Internet marketing projects, organizational actions, educational steps, offline activities, personal tasks, financial sort-outs, computer fixups, article submissions, blog posts to write, as well as every detail and upgrade to handle for each of my too-many websites. All categorized and easy to find and remember.
  • Lists of incomplete articles and blog posts (with all relevant links, data, and the articles themselves, included beside each item.)
  • Lists of important links and resources – much easier to use and navigate than just using my browser’s bookmarks.
  • Lists of data relating to WordPress – themes I am considering for different blogs, plugins I use for different purposes, ping lists, fixups, upgrades to be done, etc.
  • Codes for websites (widgets, tracking codes, etc)
  • Affiliate links (including code for image links, etc) and links to affiliate products I am considering promoting
  • Wish lists and shopping lists
  • A daily “done” list. Every time I complete an action on my project list, I drag and drop it into the node for today’s date.
  • Ideas
  • Miscellaneous Promotional Strategies

More Examples of Use:

  • Plan and structure a website before building it – Lay out each page and subpage in outline form, with notes on which articles, keywords, ads, and images you will use on each page.  (I had a software program just for this formerly).
  • If you are a freelancer you can keep track of each client and the status of each freelance project you are working on.
  • Take notes of important information you learn in eBooks, videos, or online courses – and find your notes easily later on.
  • Track your progress a home-study course you are taking.
  • When you have an item on your “to do list” which includes writing (“email Joe about …. ” or “write a blog post about …”) you can start writing it right there, within the outline, in the text area beside that item. There is no need to clutter your desktop with incomplete documents, letters, or articles, nor to lose them within the far reaches of your file structure.
  • When you encounter a link relating to a project you are working on, you can simply note it down in the outline for that project and come back to it at the right moment. For example, you are working on Website A. You come across a link which gives a good promotional strategy for Website B. Instead of stopping your work on Website A to sign up for this new service related to Website B, you can finish what you are doing and go back to that link the next time you are working on Website B. You don’t have to worry that you might forget to return to that link. This is far easier than relying only on your browser’s bookmarks or favorites, which can become unwieldy for this purpose.
  • You can keep a daily record of what you completed and accomplished that day. At the bottom of your “to do list,” create a group of nodes called “Projects Done.” Label the subnodes by date. Every day, create a new node with today’s date. Whenever you complete a task, check it off as done, and also drag and drop it into today’s “Done List.” This can be very important for later analysis and time management. For example, if your income increases or decreases, you might want to see what actions you took before that change occurred, so that you can prioritize your schedule appropriately.

Since I have begun using this software, I have noticed my general productivity increasing.  I also tend to get more work done on the more vital projects, and waste less time. I also don’t “forget about important things.”  Because these outlines and lists can be accessed and modified in about three seconds, they make a tremendous difference in my overall productivity.

By organizing all of my project and task lists by category, flagging them, prioritizing them, and making it possible to see “at a glance” exactly what I have on my plate, I make it far easier to confront and and accomplish what needs to be done.

Action Outline comes with a free trial, and is also inexpensive. You might find it useful.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to “Calming the Virtual Whirlpool”

  1. mariell@Marketing
    March 17, 2009 at 3:40 pm #

    *A daily “done” list. Every time I complete an action on my project list, I drag and drop it into the node for today’s date.

    how does u do this? i mean u make an list with things to todo and when u finished it u erase it from the list?

  2. Anna
    March 18, 2009 at 8:36 am #

    Well, no, not exactly. If you have the software its a bit easier to see what I mean. You can get a trial version for free if you want.

    You create lists of items and “sub-lists” within lists. So you can drag and drop items from one list to another.

    I have a list of things “to do today” and a list of things “done today.” When I finish an item from my “to do today” list, I drag and drop it into the “done today” list instead of just deleting it. That way, at the end of the week I can look over what I got done each day. Its a very good time-analysis tool. You basically get an overview of what you are really spending time on or what you are actually accomplishing over time.

    Its actually really simple if you see it in the Action Outline program itself. Its just drag-and-drop. Hope this makes some sense 🙂

  3. Sportfan
    March 20, 2009 at 10:37 am #

    “Take notes of important information you learn in eBooks, videos, or online courses – and find your notes easily later on.”

    u mean like note the links or improtant keywords of it to find it later again to check the learned again and see u do everything right`?

  4. Lifestyler
    March 23, 2009 at 10:40 am #

    ur saving every uncompletet post and articels with this program, sounds useful but woulnd’t be an normal relink enough? or you have any special function with your way of saving.

  5. WitzeFan
    March 23, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    do you tryout more than one option , or u change it more than once to see what kind of change is the best for the new project, site?

    WitzeFans last blog post..Fotoalben

  6. Anna
    March 24, 2009 at 1:34 am #

    @ Sportfan, Lifestyler, and Witzefan (same person?)

    Thanks for your comments. You seem to be very curious about the little details. Those were just some examples of how the software has been useful for me. Everyone has their own different types of organizational problems to resolve and usually everyone has a different organizational system which works for them, even if using the same or similar software/methods. I suggest you get the free trial of the software and play around with it. Experiment with how you can use it and see if it is useful for you. Then you can work out your own systems of organization according to whatever works best for your purposes.

  7. Scripter
    March 24, 2009 at 10:40 am #

    “A daily “done” list. Every time I complete an action on my project list, I drag and drop it into the node for today’s date.”

    i use now for a while a “what i have done” list and a “todo list” this system helsp a lot see what i have still todo and what ive already done. so i don’t waste my time on checking what i already did.

    Scripters last blog post..Fehlermeldung PhP Handling

  8. DesignerFan
    March 27, 2009 at 1:09 pm #

    ur saving every uncompletet post and articels with this program, sounds useful but woulnd’t be an normal relink enough? or you have any special function with your way of saving.

    DesignerFans last blog post..Websitegestaltung

  9. Privatschüler
    March 27, 2009 at 10:55 am #

    “Since I have begun using this software, I have noticed my general productivity increasing. ”

    sounds very good but you think it’s just because of the program or maybe you just had more motivation and so more luck at all. but sounds kinda great thanks i think i ll try it too.

  10. MarmorFan
    March 30, 2009 at 9:55 am #

    looks like these programms helped you really and managed that you don’t need to spend so much time anymore with it. soudns kinda itneesting and i should try to use some programs like this too.

Leave a Reply

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private.