Making Room for My Brain

I’m investing some of my time off during this spring break to streamline my workflow and put my Mac to work for me.

A lot of my important filing often falls to the wayside because I hate that kind of thing. Downloading statements, renaming them, and archiving them in the proper folder is tedious work. Now, I’m automating this workflow to and yank some of the tedium out of my life.

Thinking Ahead

Hazel is the most important piece moving forward. This preference pane for Mac OS watches folders and files and does stuff to them when the conditions are right.

This is incredibly powerful.

Billing statements are notoriously weird. Some have funky and inconsistent filenames. Hazel makes short work of one especially gnarly statement. It checks for four conditions:

  1. Is it a PDF?
  2. Does it contain a particular phrase?
  3. Does it contain the last four digits of my account number?
  4. Does it contain the customer support number for that account?

I tried to use some unique text common to all of the statements for that account. If the document meets all four criteria, the weirdo filename is replaced with the my custom dated name (i.e. 2012-04 statement.pdf). Once the file is renamed, it’s automatically archived to the proper folder.

Did you follow that? All I have to do is download the statement. As soon as it hits my Downloads folder, Hazel takes care of the rest. Easy peasy. It just takes little forethought automate a mindless task that’s perfect for a computer.

Catching Up

My existing archive was a mishmash of different naming conventions I’ve used over the years. A Better Finder Rename helped me bring some consistency to those archived documents. All it takes is dropping a list of files into the app to automate the renaming process; another perfect task for a computer.

Because I’m lazy, I had quite a backlog of statements to download and file. These great tools helped me catch up and should keep me on track from here on out.

Back to the Future

So how will I remember to download my statements and avoid another backlog? I’ve added reminders to OmniFocus, the most important gear driving my GTD workflow. If you’re a Mac user, especially one who is all in and using the iPhone and iPad, you owe it to yourself to look into using OmniFocus.