Students often perceive that they're the only ones in our lives making requests of us. The first couple of weeks in the Fall as I attempt not to perspire directly on my students as I go from class-to-class teaching typically from 9:00 am till 3:00 pm with only a lunch break in which to catch my breath, students will come up and ask, “Did you get my emails?”
I ask, “When did you send them to me?”
The typical reply: “A few minutes ago.”
We're definitely living in the age of instant-communication. It can be tough to juggle all the demands for our time and attention. Those of us with a system at least find some relief in the structure it provides.
In this post, you'll discover what tools are available in your quest to get things done (GTD) as a professor.
GETTING THINGS DONE
If this is the first time you've heard the phrase ‘getting things done,' Nels Highberg clearly articulates what this system is and how to apply it in an academic setting. I use a combination of David Allen's GTD system, along with some of the classic approaches described in the Franklin Covey system, such as considering our various roles and prioritizing tasks around our roles. If you want a great training system to walk you through getting started with GTD, check out their GTD system product.
While some of us have complex systems we use to accomplish our goals, you can start by ensuring you have the basics for your way of organizing.
Your planner can be a physical planner (Franklin Covey still tops my list of planners, though I've stopped ever carrying something physical around ith me). You also can have something electronic that you use, though make sure it is something that can be with you at all times (such as via your smartphone).
Your planner / planning system should have both a calendar for time-based appointments and tasks, as well as a robust to do list. I use www.rememberthemilk.com for my to dos and Outlook + Google Calendar (so Dave and I can view each others' calendars) for my calendaring system.
A note-taking tool
Again, you can either carry note-taking tools around with you, or use an electronic one (assuming again you'll have access to it via your smart phone). I use a combination of my LiveScribe Pulse Smart Pen (see video below), along with a great online notebook system called www.Evernote.com.
OTHER TRUSTED TOOLS
On the www.profhacker.com site, Ryan Cordell does an amazing job of describing how he uses the to do program called THINGS to get things done (GTD). While I prefer www.rememberthemilk.com, all of his tips work regardless of what system you're using to organize your tasks.
The$58 for a Circa desk punch seemed expensive when I first saw it, but I can tell you now that I don't regret my purchase in the slightest as I'm able to make notebooks/pages from any paper now (including the paper I use to record using myLiveScribe pen that I print from our laser printer).
Once you have the hole punch, you can create all different sizes of notebooks out of whatever printed material you want. Lifehacker has some terrific printable notebooks and planners that are highlighted on their site. Best part is – – they're free.
David Pecoraro from Vanguard University has been using Circa notebooks for quite some time now and gave me a tour of his office the other day to show off his GTD system for his Vanguard office. As you can see, he has a notebook for each of his courses, as well as for each of the theatre productions that he is involved in.
His office is so organized and I think a big part of that is having all the tools he needs to do the job nearby and having a place for everything. In the bottom right of the photo, you can see that he has his Circa hole punch within easy reach for when he's adding some new pages to his notebook.
You can also get a sense of his organization and resources he makes use of by visiting http://www.davidpecoraro.com/.
Lastly, I couldn't get by without the iPhone applications I use to keep me organized. I've written about these extensively on other posts, but below are a few that are crucial to staying up to speed:
RTM (Remember the milk)
CalenGoo (Sync with Google calendar, so you have a good shared calendar system such as my husband and I have)
NewsRack (view your RSS feeds from Google Reader on your iPhone)
Instapaper (read stuff even when you're not online)
Yelp (find local establishments – everything from restaurants, coffee, gas stations, to drugstores)
Dropbox (keep files synced betwen multiple computers and also your iPhone)
Amazon (take a photo of a book or other product that Amazon sells and it will find it – or a similar product – and save it for you to purchase later. Purchase directly from your iPhone. Save items to your wish list)
Hope these tools prove to be useful to you in your quest to staying organized. Please let us know what other recommendations you have in the comments.