Get Things Done: Productivity Tools (CEP 810)

This week’s material focused on how to be more productive as a teacher and as a person. This is something that resonated deeply with me. I constantly struggle to find ways to balance all aspects of my life and find time for all the things that have to get done and the things I want to do. I work at least 60 hours in an average week and find myself frequently short on time and often sanity. Grading also seems like an insurmountable task to tackle at times. I suffer from a lack of motivation sometimes when the tasks seem too many to even figure out where to start. In the last year, I have made it a priority to get my life under control and have found reasonable success.

Currently, I use an app called Any.do to manage my daily tasks. I love check lists and checking off tasks as they are completed gives me a sense of accomplishment. The app allows me to separate tasks by day as well as organize them into folders and not what tasks are more important than others. Tasks not completed in one day automatically move to the next day. When a task is completed, a quick swipe of my finger crosses it off and moves it to the done pile. At the end of the day, I can shake my phone to remove all tasks completed that day. There is something highly satisfying about that (so long as the phone doesn’t go flying). The app also keeps track of the overall number of tasks completed. I’m proud to say I have completed almost 1,400 tasks since February. Every week I load what needs to be accomplished that week into the program and separate tasks by day and type. If things pop-up over the week, I add them in to the schedule. It helps me prioritize and forces me to focus on what needs to get done at the moment and not worry about everything else.

There are a number of other functions on my phone that help me keep my sanity. I use the Calendar that comes with iPhone for knowing where I’m supposed to be and adding anything important in terms of scheduling. I put in everything so I no longer have to worry about them. I check each week to see what is upcoming for the week. My Calendar is available across all of my emails and the calendars in those emails. I use the Notes function to record anything I want to remember from a person’s name to a website to check out to what needs to be done in class that week. I always bookmark websites I want to come back to. In general, my phone is the command panel for my life. I always tell people if it is not in my phone, it is probably not going to get done. The nice thing with Apple is everything in my phone can connect to my laptop and desktop through the cloud without any extra work from me.

I did follow the spirit of the assignment and check out the software recommended. Of the products listed, Evernote seems like the one that would work best for me if I was looking to change my system. I especially responded to the video from a magazine publisher who talked about how it works for her. I know a number of people who love it. The biggest advantage might be the function where you can scan something in and make it available digitally. I think it may take some further exploration before I would be willing to consider using it to replace my current system. We use Goggle docs at the college to help share information across many people. For example, the schedule for auditions for the music department is shared with all advisors so that we all stay current with availability. I see benefits to it, but it just doesn’t fit with my work flow. Ultimately, the best tool is the one that works best for how you think and how you process the information. As David Allen said in his TED talk, you have to trust the system you create in order to get things off your mind (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHxhjDPKfbY&feature=youtu.be). My current system offers me that peace of mind.

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