I work in sales, which has always been a very mobile role within most organizations. So being able to both access information, as well as work within my personal productivity system, is a big deal for me.
Wherever I may roam, I want to make sure I’m as productive as I can be. That means not having to try to remember the different tasks I need to do at different places. It also means being able to access notes relevant to the places I’m in or the people I’m with.
I’m a man of many machines—well, actually just 3, but I do have to use each of them for the various parts of my life.
- iPhone SE – Always with me, I’m quick with it, and it’s easy to use in multiple contexts.
- Windows laptop – My company-issued machine, which runs the obligatory Outlook, Microsoft Teams, access to our proprietary files, and has access to my company’s ERP.
- Macbook Air – my trusty “side-hustle” machine. It’s not young, but it’s thin, light, and runs the apps I like to use for getting my writing and content creation stuff done efficiently.
Each of these, of course, has the Workflowy app installed on it.
The great thing about Workflowy, and probably what’s kept me using it for as long as I have, is that simplification after the fact is easy. What I mean by this is that even though I’ve created (probably) hundreds of thousands of bullets over the years, I’ve been able to easily sort them in and out of 6 general categories. And that’s my entire system today.
A Day in the Life of Mobility
The best way to illustrate just what you can do with Workflowy cross-platform is to walk through a “day-in-the-life”—so to speak. Though this particular example of a day would not represent a normal one for me, days like it do happen. And when it comes to a personal productivity system, it should be able to handle your most demanding and most mobile days.
So let’s begin the day, shall we?
At the Home Office (Windows Laptop)
I begin the day in the home office, after having brewed my coffee—without which, I’d surely collapse onto the kitchen floor. I’m at my Dell laptop issued to me by my company, running all the Microsoft goodies.
I’ll be going on a trip to Kentucky, to visit a potential client at their biggest production plant. My flight is in about 6 hours. I’ve got to arrive 2 hours early to the airport (as is customary these days). And I still have to pack.
I go into Workflowy, to my “Control Panel” bullet. I review my Actions list, to see what I’ll need to take care of today, what I can push off for tomorrow, and all that jazz.
I then create an entry in my daily log for today, so I can store notes there as the day progresses.
Packing for the Trip (iPhone)
No matter how many times you pack, and how good you think you are at it, you’ll be surprised at how often you can forget things. I once forgot my underwear. So I had to go to the Wal-Mart by the hotel and buy a package.
That’s why I have a travel checklist for each of my types of trips. I find them in Reference>>Running Lists>>Pack Suitcase List:
I simply look how many days I’ll be gone, and whether it’s hot or cold there, and boom! I run down the list and swipe each item complete as I either confirm it’s in my suitcase or pack it.
I run down that same list with the sales materials I need to bring with me, as well. Once that’s done, it’s off to the airport. Once everything is completed on those lists, I’m ready to go.
Walking Through the Airport (iPhone)
Once at the airport, until I’m able to get through security and sit somewhere near the terminal of my flight, I have to rely on my phone. Not only that, but I need to be able to quickly access and edit information.
This is where voice to text on the iPhone is an extraordinary help. While I’m in the line to go through security, and especially when dragging my luggage through the concourse, I’ll regularly go back and forth from reviewing notes in Workflowy to adding new ones via talk to text.
I’ve found the accuracy of talk to text—especially with AirPods—to be pretty good. It’s at least good enough that I can edit any errors later, because I understand what I was trying to say.
At the customer’s plant – Conference room (Widows laptop)
Once I’m at my destination, I’ll be heading to a customer’s plant. I’m visiting almost exclusively with manufacturers—who make everything from home security panels and thermostats to large truck bodies. And one thing they all have in common is that the noise levels can be crazy, and the wi-fi spotty.
We often start off in their conference room, and I’ll usually have to present them with something. I will also need to take notes and keep track of next actions that we (the customer and me) have agreed upon. I’ve found Workflowy to be really helpful for this. I’ll often switch windows during a presentation, and move over to Workflowy, where I’ll type notes in real-time—showing the customer what I’m capturing.
Once I’ve captured the notes of our meeting, I’ll then make a duplicate copy to put in my “Reference” Workflowy list. I’ll share that particular bullet copy with the customer, and allow them to edit it in Workflowy—which they can do without creating an account, on the web. I’ve gotten great responses from it. And even if they edit the shared copy, I always have my own copy of the meeting notes in my own “Control Panel” bullet.
What helps me keep track of The Who and The What are a few key things:
- Using the @ to note people—what they said, when they were involved in things, or if they’re part of a task I’m working on. I use the scheme @FirstnameLastname, so my name would be @MikeSturm.
- Using the # to note customers. Sometimes, I’ll use the # for bigger projects, that have singular codenames (which makes me feel like a secret agent!). But generally using the # helps me quickly (in one click) get a view on what’s been happening, or needs to happen with a singe customer.
Walking the Customer’s Production Floor (iPhone)
A huge part of the value my company brings to customers is cost savings by helping them re-engineer the way they assemble their products. So nearly every sales pitch will involve going on a tour of their plant, and having to capture visuals and descriptions of their processes.
As we walk out, I start an entry within my daily log, tag it with #CustomerName, and begin taking notes. As much as I can, I use talk to text, so I can take notes quickly. As we encounter things I need to visually capture, I simply use the Workflowy iOS app’s wonderful in-line photo attachment feature.
If our engineers need to see information from the tour (which they usually do), I can easily create a copy of the bullet for the plant tour. Then I make that bullet a shared one. Some have been into it enough that they will collaborate within the bullet, rather than just viewing it.
Trip Home From the Airport (iPhone)
Once I’ve gone back through the gauntlet of airport security and the flight home, I get to my car as quickly as I can. Then I set out for home. But because I’m passing all sorts of places, and there may well be things I need, I try to keep a running list of things I’ll need to pick up if I’m out.
Those of you who have done GTD would call this an @errands list. If I do have some items to pick up, I’ll be sure to stop by a store. I’ll give my wife a call to see if there is anything else we need. She’ll text me a short list, which I then copy onto my errands list. Then I simply use the iPhone as my real-time shopping list—swiping complete things as I pick them up.
Stay Mobile, Stay Frictionless
The key to me being able to do as much as I do has a lot to do with being able to keep track of a bunch of stuff in a bunch of different places—and not have to think about it. So having one app that can work across multiple pieces of hardware is essential.
By having this, there is little friction involved in me recording something that I want to act on later. And it doesn’t matter whether I’m on a Windows machine, a Mac, or my iPhone. I have a way to get things quickly into my system, so I don’t have to worry about it.