A few of the things that are emerging about web workers is that 1) we do just about everything online; 2) we want to be able to access it from any computer, anywhere; and 3) it’s hard to organize all the stuff we use and do, in our work and personal lives.
But online organization doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many tools for organizing all our stuff, of course, but one of the simplest is the wiki.
We’re all familiar with wikis, of course — Wikipedia being the most famous example, but many other useful wikis abound on the Internet. But one of the most productive forms of wikis is the personal wiki, which you can create at any number of sites.
1) To-do list. Once you’ve learned the simple wiki markup language, creating a list is easy. And the most productive list, of course, is the to-do list. In fact, if you’re into GTD, you can set up multiple context lists for a simple GTD system — try GTD Tiddlywiki, dcubed, or MonkeyGTD for more integrated wiki solutions.
2) Project management. A wiki can be a great way to plan and manage a project, from conception to completion. Assign tasks, make a timeline, add notes, paste images and other media — whatever you need for a project, there’s no simpler way to organize it all.
3) Operations manuals. If you’ve got a company full of web workers, it doesn’t make sense to have a hardcopy or server-hosted version of a manual — put it online, so that it can be updated when things change, so that anyone can view the updated version at any time. Things changes so quickly these days that a printed version of a manual is outdated as soon as it’s printed and distributed.
4) Checklists. Have a process that’s repeated often? If so, create a checklist so you never forget anything, and it’s done right every time. Put it on your wiki, and never forget where it is.
5) Plan an event. Conferences, weddings, off-site meetings, parties … events of all kinds have been planned with wikis, because they’re perfect. Multiple people can access the plans, you can create different sections for different planning areas, create checklists, add notes, ideas, images, contact info, and much more.
6) Log client work. If you do a lot of freelancing, like I do, you know that you need a system of logging your work — either hours spent on a project or number of projects completed (articles written, in my case), along with dates, rates and other notes. There are many tools for doing this, but one of the simplest is adding it to your personal wiki. You could have all your client logs on one page, or create a separate page for each client — the flexibility of a wiki is why it works so well.
7) Track invoices. Similarly, you also need to track your invoices to each client — the work done, dates, rates, etc., along with when the invoices were submitted, when they’re due, and when they were paid. Again, there are other services for this, but if you are already putting your logs on your wiki, why not add your invoice tracking in the same place?
8) Notes and snippets. Web workers take notes, pull snippets from pages, save images all the time … and yet it can be hard to keep track of all of them. Keep them all in one place on a wiki for easy access when you need them.
9) Goals. This can be a work thing or a personal thing, or both, but one of the problems with our goals is that we might write them down, but we might also then forget about them. If you make your personal wiki your place to go for everything, be sure to put your goals here — along with action steps, deadlines, progress reports, notes, etc. Get your life in gear on your wiki.
10) Contacts. Still haven’t found a great online solution for your contacts? If you use your wiki a lot, it can be an easy and quick way to add contacts and find them any time and any place you need them.
11) Workspace. If you use multiple computers, and need a place to do your work that you can access from anywhere, a wiki isn’t a bad choice. Besides being a place to keep your notes and snippets and images together, you can write articles, reports, etc. and keep everything together. You don’t need to do the actual writing here, if that’s not your preference, but it can be where you keep the writing or other work and related items.
12) FAQs. If you get a lot of questions about your work, or product, or just about yourself personally, you can keep an ever-growing FAQ to prevent having to repeat your answers too many times. Then just point people to your FAQ url.
13) Collaboration. There are more fancy, complicated or expensive options for collaborating on something with people in spread out locations … but probably not many things as simple and easy as a wiki. Again, you can work on a project or even just one document with another person or group of people — the entire Internet, in fact, if you want to get global. Changes are made and tracked, and you can revert to previous versions if necessary.
14) Reference. Got a list, document, codes, instructions, etc. that you need to refer to regularly? Keep it here on your wiki, so you never have to go looking again.
15) One place for everything. One of the best reasons to have a wiki is because it can do all of the above, and more. It’s versatile — more so than most other tools on the web — which means that whatever you need to do, the wiki can accommodate. And that allows you to keep everything in one place — which is the key to staying organized. Otherwise, you’ll have things all over the place, and you’ll have to remember where they are, or you’ll forget about them. Keeping things all in one place is a great way to keep productive.
How do you use a wiki? Let us know in the comments.