January 11th, 2012



I'm having one of my periodic attempts to get myself organised (it's that new year thing again, although these do happen at non-arbitrary-date-changes too ;) ) - sometimes it works, sometimes it fizzles out after a week or two, we'll see what happens this time. Habits I'm trying to kick start again include learning the bass guitar (via Rock Band 3 - I can almost play the bass part to Imagine & the bass part to I Love Rock N' Roll now), doing a little more exercise (actually via a couple of rounds a day (or so) of the sword fighting challenge mode in Sports Champions on the PS3 - it's a Move game & it does actually involve a fair bit of exertion), doing a bit more tidying up as a general thing (the goal is that 15 minutes of tidying happens every day, and then that'll over-take the downward slide which necessitates a major tidy-up every few weeks - I keep the house clean, but I'm not good at keeping it tidy ;) ). As well as starting some projects back up.

I'm also trying to make sure I actually use my shiny new phone (given I spent money on it rather than get the not quite as good one that I could get for free on my contract :) ). So I got some apps that hopefully will help the organisation process. I looked at a few to-do list apps before settling on Task List - which works almost the way I want my to-do list to work, it handles both repeating and non-repeating tasks easily and would let me set up dateless ones too (although I'd prefer those to also display on the "Due today" view as for me a dateless task is a floating one that's always due today, until it gets done). I think the biggest "quirk"/annoyance of the app for me is that if you have a repeating task that you decide not to do today (like if I'm out of the house all day so the housework isn't getting done) then you have to remember to check it off as done anyway otherwise it'll go into the overdue tasks (which don't show up on "Due today") and when you finally do check it as done it'll repeat N whatevers from when you checked it off (so if it's something I do on Tuesdays but one week I do it on a Wednesday then it'd switch to Wednesdays after that unless I remember to check it off the day before even tho I didn't do it).

I'm also tracking our money a bit more closely (I always have a feel for it, but the feel is that we've dipped into savings a little too often over the last few months, so I'd like to see where that's going). So I looked for a free app that doesn't require internet or phonecall making permissions, and that was harder to find than you'd think, but My Money seemed to do what I wanted, and not what I didn't want, with a minimum of real world info involved. Essentially you set up an account (or however many), set up "budgets" (categories), enter transactions which you name & categorise & it keeps running totals for each budget during the month and for the month in total. And will draw graphs, and it seems to handle recurring transactions (I won't know for sure till Feb when some of them recur). And it doesn't know anything about our real money (like bank account, balance in account(s), who we pay money to for bills, etc etc), nor does it bother me with currencies etc it's just numbers. Basically it's what I used to use a spreadsheet to do but it has the advantage that if we're away from home I can add things in while we're away rather than remember for when we come back. Oh, and it means I can't get bogged down in the mechanics of the spreadsheet, so there's no excuse for not using it.

And I'm also trying out a shopping list app, having forgotten my piece of paper far too many times (my phone lives in my pocket, it comes with me when I leave the house). Out of Milk has so far done what I want without getting in the way too much - I tried out a different one that could do everything except make you a cup of tea, but it took too much work to set up and to figure out how to set up. So far this one has been easy to add items to, easy to tick them off as I go round the shops. And has actually helped with adding things to the list when I think of them (ie use the last whatever it is up, and there's my phone with me so I add it and don't forget before I get to the pad of paper or lose the note and start a new list accidentally). It's easy to add things you've bought before and there's also the possibility of inventory lists (maybe useful, maybe not, not sure I'd actually bother to update quantities as I use things, rather than just put it on the list when I notice it's low, I may set up lists when I tidy up the kitchen cupboards and see how that goes). And easy to set up multiple lists (I've got a rolling House Stuff one now too, as well as my standard groceries one).