The Black Friday Plan for The Productivityist

To be honest, I don’t really do Black Fridays. I’ll probably do this today instead.
But I do prepare throughout the year and set myself up for gift-giving success in the process. The key for me just isn’t preparation, it’s a mindset of consistency that starts on December 26 and lasts for nearly another 365 days.

What I do is use the following iPhone apps to make sure that Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all present-purchasing days in between are as productive as possible.

If you use a task manager that allows for Start Dates (like OmniFocus, for example), then you can set up a project for Holiday Shopping to begin whenever you want to begin your collection of ideas. I start my project on December 26 (it’s Boxing Day here in Canada, meaning that bargains are everywhere), but my project covers all gift ideas for the year, including birthdays, my anniversary, and Christmas. I set up due dates one month before each person’s special day (which would be set up as tasks) so that I can ensure I’m giving enough of a window for shipping of gifts. I don’t create tasks other than “Buy gift for X”, keeping it as vague as possible so I can repeat the task annually if I want without having to make changes.

That’s where the project lives, but I capture my gift ideas in Evernote.

Why Evernote? Simple: I can share lists in the form of notebooks (ideal when my wife and I are shopping for the kids) and I can take photos for notes and tag them accordingly. I use tags for each person’s name (last name, usually) and that way I can keep a running log of what gifts they might enjoy. All I have to do is search for their tag and I’ll get all the gifts that I think they’ll like.

The other app I use – more so to remind me when I’m somewhere that might have a potential gift – is Checkmark.

What I do is move current gift ideas from Evernote into locations I’ve set up in Checkmark. Then when I arrive – and for some locations, like malls, depart – I get notified by Checkmark that I should pick up any of the gifts in that location. Even if I don’t get them at that time, the reminders stay. I simply check off the ones I do get and let the others sit in Checkmark until the next excursion.

Now you don’t need to download any shopping list or Black Friday apps to get shopping done. And the apps I use for this purpose can be used for so many others, which means less time learning the ropes and (hopefully) less time in store lineups this holiday season.

By the way, if you want to pick up something that’s on sale over the next few days, check out my e-books. They’re only 99 cents until Monday November 26th.