How do you organize tasks, files, emails and notes?

Following the necro trend:

  1. Files on iCloud Drive. I have custom BTT shortcuts to summon Finder windows with my most important folders (I have a special Inbox folder, @Working Set folder for work projects…) I am also exploring QSpace for its workspace features.
  2. Emails on Google Suite, both personal and work.
  3. Notes: non-negotiable as plain text on separate vaults on iCloud Drive. On top of that, I use a mix of Obsidian, Notebooks (for mobile) and, to a less extent these days, Eaglefiler. I’m not using much linking, but I have started to create a repository of people/clients/stakeholders I am meeting with, linked to the relevant notes. So if I know Mr. So-and-so said something, I can easily find the meeting.
  4. Tasks: I’m big on time blocking for Calendar, Reminders for personal stuff. Busycal is my weapon of choice here.
  5. Bookmarks (extra ball!): I store them in my iCloud Drive vaults along with the corresponding folder if they are for work as .webloc files. This is more convenient than it seems.
  1. FILES: iCloud, DevonThink, and DropBox.
  2. EMAILS: Superhuman with Google Workspace (personal) and Exchange (work).
  3. NOTES: Capture with Drafts and send to DevonThink.
  4. TASKS: Reminders.
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So do I. It could be especially helpful for new users seeking advice, for example, on the same iCloud problems we have all faced at one time or another.

Or a way to introduce them to what @snelly calls “a fun topic!”

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It is possible my idea of fun is deeply, deeply weird.

@Pupsino the first place I heard about “necroing” an old thread was on Reddit.

Files: Finder. I’m using DEVONthink as a utility, e.g., for file conversions and to archive files from Apple Notes, but otherwise, I keep all files in Finder in iCloud, which are also downloaded to the Mac with three different backup processes/locations.
Emails: Apple Mail
Notes: Apple Notes
Tasks: Reminders
Calendar: Calendar

And yet you fit in so well with the rest of us here. :grinning:


I love this necro-bump! I honestly never get tired of talking about this subject. Although I’ve been thinking lately that after a few years’ experimentation and attempts at optimization, I essentially ended up more or less back where I started, with small exceptions.

  • Files: Mine are split between Google Drive, where the vast majority of my files are held (I use the desktop app to sync between my computers & the cloud), and Dropbox. Dropbox is primarily for apps which use that to sync (Scrivener) and my markdown documents in my franken-zettelkasten since so many of the iOS md readers use Dropbox vs iCloud and I don’t trust the latter all that much.
  • Emails: For work, I’m stuck using Outlook. For other email accounts, primarily Gmail. I was using Mimestream during the beta, which I loved! When it went subscription, though, I reflected that I would prefer to have the same app on Mac, iPadOS, and iOS. So now I’m using the stock Mail app and enjoying it more than I ever have. Would I switch back to Mimestream once they have mobile apps? I should say no, but… probably?
  • Notes: Split between Apple Notes, Bear, and Obsidian for different use cases.
  • Tasks: After a long walkabout that included dalliances with Noteplan, Reminders, Goodtask, Todoist, and Notion, I am back to trusty Things 3, which I always end up doing. I periodically get lured away by shiny things like putting tasks on my calendar or fancy NLP and filters and at the end of the day all I need is do-dates, deadlines, and to actually just… do the work. The app works with my brain and is beautiful, and for now I’m convinced that’s all I need. Now, ask me again in 6 months…
  • Calendar: Fantastical! This has somehow managed not to change, despite all the above.

I had an epiphany of sorts realizing that I spend WAY too much time “working on work” instead of actually doing work. So I simplified and embraced light usage of web services where it made sense. I’m a consultant/solopreneur with no plans to hire (EVER), so my tech stack is super important because I compete with entities that have teams of people that I have to be faster and more responsive than. So here goes:

  • EMAIL:. Mail mate/Davmail server for connecting to O365. I have a Microsoft allergy and can’t run Outlook. Scripting capabilities and what I can do server-side (switched back to Google) make this easier to manage. I leverage Google Apps Script to run server side automations on emails.

  • TASKS: I’ve spent YEARS trying to “perfect” my task management workflow. It became cumbersome so I left Omnifocus and went with a combination of Reminders, Logseq, and Telegram (bots/automation). Playing around with ASANA for work projects but may just use Airtable here as my CRM handles most things that would qualify as projects for work.

  • NOTES: Logseq. Can manage tasks that aren’t urgent here and make heavy use of Daily notes. Because notes are stored on my system I can automate tasks if needed and share fairly easily as well.

  • CALENDAR: Work in progress. Was using fantastical, but I don’t use any of the features that make it worth the cost. Also leverage Davmail to pull events from clients who leverage M365 and don’t support IMAP. Trying to automate this as much as possible, but not quite there. Have a bookings page so clients can book time with me. The hardest part about this is making sure me/family time is blocked off properly.

Side note, I started playing around with Miro for mapping out workflows. I’m okay spending a little time working on these things if it leads to an automated workflow. If I want to eat, I have to do this. Definitely “burned the boats” as far as career is concerned and I REALLY don’t want to go back to a “job”….


Trying to Simplify:

Files: Evernote
Emails: Apple Mail
Notes: Evernote
Calender: Apple

Tasks - who knows, pick a month and I’ll be dancing between Omnifocus, Things, and Todoist. If my work computer was a Mac I’d settle on Omnifocus, but with having to use Windows at work I end up drifting to something easy on my phone (Things) or something I can use at work (Todoist).

Files: Nextcloud. When Apple deprecated kernel extensions and started the Apple File Provider API madness, I took matters into my own hands. Nextcloud syncs actual files to a normal folder, and not placeholders to a god-knows-where system folder.
Email: Apple Mail. I’m not an email power user. The default app is enough and very stable for me.
Notes: Apple Notes. It gets more powerful with every update. I switched a few years ago and never looked back.
Tasks: Apple Reminders. Same as Notes, awesome app.
Calendar: Apple Calendar.

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Files: Desktop, Documents via iCloud Drive

Tasks: Lunatask

Notes: Capacities

Email: MailMate

Oh no, a mention of Capacities :see_no_evil: I hear its siren call…

I really don’t need another note/PKM app and mostly ignore mentions of other PKM apps I don’t use, but for some reason Capacities caught my attention and tempts me. It’s the cloud storage that puts me off trying it (I’d prefer files stored locally). How do you like it? [me, asking the sirens if they can sing me another song :joy:]

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Being self-employed I get to choose what programs and apps I use for admin tasks.

Calendar: client appointments (colour coded to distinguish them from various home-based events which include sporting events). Travel time is set but as most client time is all day and onsite at their place of work this isn’t really necessary. I block off preparation time ahead of the appointments. If there are notes to be made then I use the notes feature in Calendar.

Tasks: these are all for personal activities as there are no professional tasks that need to be recorded; other than the details of the next appointment. I use the Obsidian Kanban plugin for these. Or I use Alarms in Clock or the Reminders app — mostly for medication purposes as these are time “critical”. The reminders blast out on my Macs making them very hard to ignore.

Files: Finder with subdirectories for each client below a generic Business folder. Invoices and the timesheets associated with them in one folder and preparation materials in another segregated by academic year. The invoices and timesheets are Numbers spreadsheets. My own work is randomly spread across iCloud (where my Obsidian vaults are) and Dropbox.

Notes: I used to use Scrivener for notes as this is installed on all my devices but the startup time on iOS/iPadOS is sluggish so I have recently swapped to using either Apple Notes or Obsidian. As notes concern only personal activities it doesn’t matter how and where I store them. I favour Obsidian because I am minded to use one vault as Scrivener’s Scratchpad.

Emails: I use Apple Mail as a front to GMail. I hate the GMail web site and only use it to mark as “Not Spam” emails that GMail keeps moving to the spam folder. For a while I used a PGP addon but the begging got to me so deactivited it plus none of my clients care/cared about encryption or digitial signatures.

Others: I use a GPS tracker app on my iPhone when taking exercise and then marry the data (time and distance) with the corresponding data extracted from the Apple Health app. Tedious to get the Health data out but then I stuff it and the GPS junk into SQLite3 and do basic analysis on it all.

Health Auto Export (JSON & CSV) might be worth a look if you ever need to modify your health workflow.

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I used to use Quantified Self’s app to do the extraction of Health data to CSV but they decided it was too much effort to continue development/support. These days I’m more interested in devising suitable Shortcuts shortcuts to extract information from standard apps. Unfortunately not had much time since I commented about this elsewhere in these forums to do more than a simplistic investigation plus tallk a future update to iPadOS will include a version of the Health app for now once-bitten-twice-shy for any external extraction app I’m afraid.

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  1. FILES: Google Drive
  2. EMAILS: Proton Mail
  3. NOTES: Obsidian
  4. TASKS: Workflowy
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FILES: iCloud Drive
EMAILS: MailMate on Mac, Apple Mail on iOS
NOTES: Obsidian
TASKS: Amazing Marvin

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So for a long time I yearned to be able to use a MacBook at work and listed to MPU and daydreamed about my perfect setup. When the day eventually came, I was straight on the Omnifocus train and was amazed by the power of the tool. I then bought OmniOutliner, an expensive Mindmap software (can’t remember which one) and various other tools.

However, as time has progressed I realised that whilst I enjoyed tinkering with these apps (trying to set up perfect templates and workflows etc) it wasn’t really resulting in measurable productivity improvements.

When reminders was refreshed and as notes become better, I started switching to stock Apple apps and I have to say I am really pleased with them. In particular, the integration between tools and sync across devices works well for me

Files: iCloud for personal files, work provided cloud storage for work files

Calendar: Apple Calendar using iCloud for personal account and work exchange for work

Mail: Apple Mail using GMail for personal and work exchange for work

Tasks: Reminders

Notes: Notes and Agenda for meeting notes. I like agenda and have considered merging into Notes but this provides a sensible split and avoids crowding the Notes app

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I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who made that journey and landed very much where you have landed. The only difference is, I don’t use Agenda. Welcome to the “Default Club.” :slightly_smiling_face:


Evernote? I used to love this app. Maybe again someday.

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