Thanks to everyone who came to learn about “The 5 Keys to Organization & Time Management.” Here is some of the feedback we gathered during the session using TodayMeet as a tool to gather thoughts.

When asked “What keeps you from getting your important work done?” our participants said:

  • Multiple large tasks/projects to juggle
  • Ways to get more organized
  • Family, exercise, work balance
  • Project and paper management
  • I’m a new principal, trying to learn the job with little support. I am overwhelmed by the enormity of the job and the draws on my time.
  • How to prioritize.
  • As I support teachers and principals I am constantly asked to help them learn to manage and organize time. Looking for tools to share.
  • Too many emails that require something to be done, looked into, checked before a response and then more emails.
  • Prioritizing.
  • Competing priorities.
  • Delegating effectively.
  • Time to function as an instructional leader while still completing day to day tasks.
  • Paper management.
  • Collection of data from teachers; compile for reporting.
  • Keeping things organized and getting lost.
  • Procrastination.
  • Different district expectations with more “stuff.”
  • So many emails and people who want to be my only clients.
  • How to stay balanced…not to be as stressed out!
  • Calendaring other people to my calendar.
  • Juggling many projects and team priorities.
  • Balancing all the hats I wear in my job.
  • Getting it ALL done!

We talked about the concept of the “tickler file” and presented a few samples of how they could be used. When asked, “What could you put in a tickler file?” our participants had some good suggestions:

  • Children’s special events.
  • Organize bills and kid’s stuff.
  • Organizing my files.
  • Reminders to remind others what to hand in before it is due.
  • Keep up with deadlines for my team, districts and myself. Follow up calls one emails a week after site visits or presentations.
  • I would put my notes for a dialogue on that day! (Coach)
  • Love the birthday card idea and blank card for reoccurring events.
  • Put names on today’s papers and place them in tomorrow’s folder to give to absent students.
  • Have files labeled in a notebook for repeating meetings that I take things to. As an agenda, etc comes in, I stick it in that folder can grab/go.

Our next major topic was the “signature tool,” one tool (paper or digital) which houses all of your commitments. When asked what they currently use that would fit the definition of a “signature tool,” here is what our group had to say:

  • iPhone
  • My Galaxy note 3
  • iPhone with Outlook calendar
  • Cell and sticky notes
  • Journal Spiral
  • Outlook
  • Planner
  • Signature tool: Boomerang for gmail (auto re-send, remind)
  • Outlook Calendar
  • Computer (Dropbox) because it can go to mobile device, iPad whatever
  • This is something I need to find! ONE thing to help
  • Having an iPhone and Mac notebook has helped sync everything-calendar, contacts, gmail, notes, reminders
  • My phone: camera, notes, calendar
  • Evernote

“Paper versus Digital” is always a great debate. Each platform has advantages to offer.
Our group identified many advantages of paper:

  • Paper is tangible. It gets in your way and reminds you it needs something.
  • Hands on — able to take notes sketch etc.
  • Paper=visual reminder.
  • The “paper net” never goes down.
  • I remember things better when I physically write them down No technical difficulties.
  • Crashes… electricity.
  • Paper doesn’t have a system “shut down.”
  • It’s NICE to be able to physically cross things off your list many things I receive are still paper.
  • Kinesthetic.
  • Paper is there. Digital may not work.
  • Visual reminder.
  • No internet connection needed.
  • I like colored pens.

Likewise, the group identified quite a few advantages of organizing digitally:

  • Less clutter.
  • Digital is more easily searchable.
  • Legible.
  • Syncs
  • It’s easy to share. It can hold more information Easy to share.
  • Can transfer electronically.
  • I can read it from my car at a stoplight.
  • Easier to edit your notes..
  • Easy to find.

We explored the importance of documentation and the need for an easy system. We examined use of a paper journal and looked at practical scenarios. People embrace the concept. One significant point is the interest being shown in how to do what we talked about digitally. Here are a couple of comments showing that interest is alive with at least a segment of today’s participants:

  • How can you digitize the black book journal? (Comment from one participant.)
  • To digitize the black book journal – you could use a notebook in One Note with tabs and pages. (Answer provided by another participant.)
As tablets are becoming more ubiquitous and their capabilities more robust, I foresee this interest growing. In November, I wrote a blog post entitled The Challenge of Taking Meeting Note Digitally. That post addresses this topic. The very next post, “Using TaskClone to Link Evernote to Your To-Do List,” reviewed a new service. TaskClone benefits those who 1) use Evernote for taking notes; 2) have a Gmail account; and 3) use a web-based to-do list to harvest the “to-dos” identified in the meeting notes and puts them in the to-do list, complete with a link back to the note taken in Evernote.

Being able to review the input from participants helps me identify the needs and capabilities of those who come to these workshops. It also helps me better provide tools and pedagogy which will help people navigate life a little more productively and with much less stress.