FreelancingThingsDone (FTD): Where Your Next Action May Be Your Last.

Here in the US, it’s almost tax time for anyone who lacks an accountant and procrastinates. That’s all the more reason to consider tools for keeping your life together, from mundane stuff that has to get done to musical and creative materials that keep you inspired and artistically productive. It’s a huge volume of information.

My recent solution has been to un-tether myself as much as possible from traditional, platform-specific, offline applications. I’m not one of those people who believes music software will someday all be online, Web 2.0-style. Music DSP and complex music creation software loves to be tied to a platform, running locally, performing advanced sonic marvels on your local CPU; end of story. But that’s all the more reason to have less to deal with for everything else. With licenses for Ableton Live, Reaktor, Max/MSP, and various plug-ins to worry about, live musical sets to backup and organize, visual programming code and patches and video files and everything else, and four machines in the house, three of which regularly go out for gigs with me in alternation — well, you get the idea.

I plan to do a full writeup on this soon, but here’s a quick peak, because I’d like to get some of your feedback before I do a full feature. My organizational toolkit right now is:

  1. Gmail for email, with the Greasemonkey Gmail scripts to speed things up.
  2. Google Reader for RSS reading, which I’ve found bar-none is the fastest way to get through RSS feeds thanks to its latest update.
  3. Google Docs and Spreadsheets for mobile document reading and sharing, though I do still rely on NeoOffice for Mac and Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows for everything else. And, of course, a local text editor (TextMate for Mac and SCiTE for Windows) is still essential.
  4. for bookmarks, plus the Firefox extension, though I am looking for a better tool for online research — when I actually want to clip and take some notes.
  5. Basecamp for organizational stuff, which is now running CDM, basically — definitely a must to have separate “groupware.”
  6. Flickr for photos.
  7. New — TiddlyWiki for taking notes.

The bit that’s stuck me up the most is figuring out how to track projects and to-do items. I’m a big fan of Getting Things Done, but finding the right “trusted system” has been hard. As a creative, you wind up with enormous projects, lots of complex due dates and dependencies, and sometimes need to focus in on specific projects. GTD should work, but the system becomes critical. Paper’s out of the question, because it gets overwhelming fast, and it’s too tempting to start spawning new lists of tasks all over the place.

One thing I’m unsure of is the fact that most GTD systems are strict about not putting due dates on tasks. That seems fine, except that a lot of times due dates are what determine what you do next. But I’m coming around to the idea of using reminders in conjunction with an independent calendar with all the dates on them, using more TiddlyWiki magic like GTDTiddlyWiki or MonkeyGTD.

I’m curious about what you’re using.