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It seems like we hear this more and more: “I’ve been crazy busy!” So, in the interest of getting to “sane busy,” I’m listing here what I think are some of the best work tools and techniques for time and task management:
To-do List Apps: Write down everything you need to do for a particular list, prioritize your list, assign dates, take action, and then cross them off when done. Be sure to prioritize your workload. Work backwards from project due dates to set your deadlines and prioritize your tasks. For more help prioritizing your workload take a look at: http://www.wikihow.com/Prioritize-Projects.
Here are some apps/websites to try:
Remember the Milk. Share lists, syncs across computers, tablets, smart phones (iphone & android), google calendar, gmail, outlook and twitter!
Wunderlist. It has a simple and clean interface, ability to share /email your lists, and syncs with all of my computers and devices. Smart lists and notes here too.
Toodledo. A powerful tool when you are looking for robust task manager. Includes hotlists, filters, sorting, scheduling, notes, file attachments, sharing, time tracking, imports lists, alarms, and more. Syncs with multiple devices.
- Timers to help you stay on task. The Pomodoro Technique is a simple, effective approach to time management that chunks the work into “pomodoros” (or tomato, in Italian)—25 minute periods of focus—followed by short breaks. This is effective for projects that take a good deal of focused energy to complete. The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility. A Google search for pomodoro timers or pomodoro technique will yield a lot of results, but here’s one site that’s all about the simple timer: Pomodoro Timer.
There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:
- After creating your to-dos, decide on the task to be done;
- Set the pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes;
- Work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x;
- Take a short break (3-5 minutes); and
- Every four “pomodoros” take a longer break (15–30 minutes)
- Get(ting) Things Done is a time-management methodology, as described in the book with the same title by productivity consultant David Allen, often referred to simply as GTD. The Getting Things Done method rests on the idea that a person needs to move tasks out of the mind by recording them externally, so the mind is free from the job of remembering the tasks that need to be completed. One can then concentrate on performing the tasks, instead of remembering.
I read this book in a moment of panic earlier in the semester and it has been a serious stress reducer. It’s full of ideas to help you, well, get things done.
The David Allen Company lists many tools to help you manage your time more efficiently like TheBrain and EverNote. Richard Winters wrote an article reviewing 3 apps he uses to get things done including the low-tech index/notecard.
Why don’t we see more crossover between higher education and K-12 professional and academic conferences? My feed reader brought me news last week of the upcoming Open Minds Conference: Open Source in K-12 Education:
The Open Minds Conference is the first national K-12 gathering for teachers, technicians and educational leaders to share and explore the benefits of open source in education. Virtual Learning Environments that provide 24X7 access to teaching and learning resources, cutting-edge and easy-to-use desktop applications, coupled with powerful management tools and low-cost computer strategies make the classroom of tomorrow available today!
This would be an interesting conference to attend from a higher education perspective. It’s not just that many of the tools to be discussed there are those that work just as well in a collegiate environment – in fact, most probably got their start in higher education. The real benefit for those in academia will be the insight into how our future clients (students) are using these tools, and how that shapes incoming student expectations, learning styles, and attitudes. I wonder what other K-12 conferences are out there that might provide more of this type of insight.
The presentation list for the K12 Online Conference doesn’t look all that different from the 2007 EDUCAUSE program. I do recall the annual Blackboard conference having k-12 tracks – however what few sessions there were seemed more product specific. Are there K-12 conferences out there with higher education tracks? What about other events that serve both groups?