Do-It-Yourself “I Did This” Productivity-Tracking Hack

In his most recent newsletter, Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and Drive, highlights five of his favorite digital tools.  A couple of these were quite familiar (Dropbox, Instapaper, TypeIt4Me), but there was one I hadn’t heard of:  iDoneThis.  Aside from the grammatical problem, being a productivity tool addict, I was intrigued.

In short, this service sends you an email every day asking you to jot down what you have accomplished that day.  When you reply to the email, the service stores your notes on a calendar that is then shareable with others who can ‘like’ it or comment in the usual social media ways.

This sounded great, so I checked out the website, but then balked at the $5 a month fee. (Update: the good folks at IDoneThis sent me a comment with a link to a free personal service which I have signed up for – see below).  I don’t know about you, but my monthly fees are starting to add up: Evernote Premium, Crashplan, Netflix, Amazon Prime etc.  I really like the idea of tracking what I have done, and I have tried a variety of solutions (Lift, for example), but none have stuck.

So, what about making a DIY similar service?  Here’s what I did.Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 11.43.32 AM

  1. On my calendar, I created a daily event labeled “Trigger.”
  2. Using If This Then That (a service that allows you to identify an event that automates another event), I identified as “This” the “Trigger” event in my calendar, and then “That” as an automated email asking “What did you get done today?”
  3. I made sure to include “@IDidThis” in the subject line of the email.
  4. I set up an “IDidThis” notebook in my Evernote
    account. (Including “@notebook_name in the address line to Evernote Uploader will send it directly to this notebook,)

Now, every day at 7:30pm, I receive an email asking me what I did.  I click on the “forward” button, type in my Evernote Upload address, write the email, and send.  Each day’s notes are then collected in the IDidThis notebook.  If I like, I can share this notebook with co-workers or even my wife!

While this solution may not have the rich social media functions of iDoneThis, it is free, takes about 5 minutes to set up, and stores my notes in my go-to digital notebook, Evernote.

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