Dark stories, tales of whimsy and random brain droppings.

What I Use to Make It Through the Day


Welcome to Digital Doug. Glad you could make it. So what’s this about? Well, in this blog series, I’ll layout how I use digital tools to get work done. Since we’re a Microsoft Office 365 shop, I’ll spend time on each of the tools in the suite that I use. It’ll be more than just knobs-and-dials though– that’s a Google-able thing. What I’m aiming for is how to actually leverage these tools to remove friction from your work life.


In short, it’s about Getting Stuff Done.

Because there’s more to life than just work, I’ll also share how I use digital tools in my non-work life as well.

Ready? Cool. Balance? Sure. Why not? This is a high-level outline of the tools I use to get ‘er dun.


For work, I use Outlook on the desktop, Outlook on the web, Outlook on the iPhone. It’s really a no-brainer.

I use Gmail for my personal mail, so I just use the browser and I wired Gmail to the Outlook app on my iPhone. I only really want one app for my mail, and Outlook does the trick.


It’s Outlook again. Skype/Teams integration, Free/Busy scheduling tools, etc. Because mail and calendar are one app, it makes things simpler.

I use Google Calendar on the iPhone as well, because I like having my personal and work calendar integrated. Google does a pretty solid job with that by tapping in to the iOS Calendar app.

My wife and I have a shared Google Calendar so that drives the tool choice as well.


I wish there was a better tool for this. I use Outlook of course and Google Contacts, but the only place I have a consolidated address book is on the iPhone where I configure the iOS Contacts app to connect them all together. This makes sense I guess.

I do use Delve as a better next-generation address book for NSCC and Office 365.


Microsoft Teams is a game changer. It does it all. Chat messaging, team collaboration, and web meetings. It hasn’t replaced email, but it has definitely increased the level of communication within my teams.

It’s similar to Slack, which I use with some of my non-work collaboration. One of the Slack teams I’m part of has members across the continent and over seas. It’s a crazy world we live in.


This is an interesting place for me where I have several tools that are more context sensitive.

I use OneNote for all my work notes and I use a journal format, but a little more concise than a Bullet Journal.

I also use the Microsoft Sticky Notes app, which uses the same data store as Outlook and iOS Notes. OneNote on the iPhone has a Sticky Notes tab and there’s a web app version. Pretty handy.

I use Google Keep for my personal sticky note collecting. It’s also where my wife and I have a shared grocery list.

And then there’s Simplenote. It’s where I keep my writing ideas and shorter works in progress. I use Scrivener for my long-form fiction work.

Away from work, I use a paper notebook in a loosely-conceived Bullet Journal fashion as my personal “universal capture tool”. It usually hits the notebook first, then gets moved to the correct digital tool every day or two. It’s filled with notes, ideas, random brain-farts, to-dos and anything I need to remember. This book also has a bunch of sticky notes and scraps of paper in it. Good thing it has an elastic band.


I use a Windows touch-screen laptop as my main computing device. I like Macs too. The web browser is really my main operating system.

I use an iPhone with minimalist intentions. I’d rather engage with the world and people around me than stare at a device.


Straight-up, I use Microsoft To Do. It is tied to Outlook Tasks and iOS Reminders, because Siri is still the best assistant for the iPhone– even if it kinda sucks.

There are some gotchas with using To Do– mainly that you can’t mix and match tools. For example, you can add a new task with Reminders/Siri, but only edit it with To Do. That’s fine. The app outclasses other task management apps hands down.

I use Google Keep and Calendar for personal tasks and iOS Reminders for, well, reminders. I have my phone on me all the time, so this makes sense to me.


Sometimes these live in To Do as an item with sub tasks. When crap gets real, I’ll lean on a project management tool like Microsoft Planner. There’s something about that tool that speaks to my soul. I hate Microsoft Project, but I love Planner.

Outside of work, I use one of two tools. Asana is great for digital planning a lot of my creative and side-gig work. Works with groups of people as well. Like Planner, it has a flow to it that I like.

For work I do that’s at a physical location, like woodworking, I use a whiteboard and corkboard with sticky notes. I use it the same way I use Planner and Asana. But when I’m doing something physical, I feel I need to use a physical planning tool.

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