Friday, January 4, 2013

Getting Organized Tips and Resources


Here are some tips on getting organized. I am a very organized person (type A personality and was an engineer for ten years) and I used to teach organizational skills to other employees at one of my jobs. There are a ton of different organizational methods out there, but it is actually pretty easy to be organized and stay that way using some free tools.

I use a variety of tools to keep myself organized and share them with colleagues, administrators, teachers and with students. I have some links below to other articles I've written that are similar in nature, so please read those too.

The first thing that is important is to decide what tools you are more comfortable with: paper or electronic. If a student/teacher doesn't have a smartphone or easy access to a computer, it is harder to use some of the electronic versions. However, one solution is to use the electronic versions at home/office and print out things for mobile. I used to do that before I got my first PDA. I would print a task list and calendar in Word and keep it updated and then print it out when I had to use it away from a computer. I used to also use a Franklin Covey planner before my PDA days.

The trick to being organized is to always use your system and not deviate from it. If you are using a smartphone, then always use that, don't use paper too. Take 5 min each morning, lunch, afternoon, and evening to get organized, check your schedule and task list, and make plans for the next time period. Keep your task list and schedule up to date and check it before making plans. Prioritize your task list based on what is most important or needed done 1st. Use a calendar or prompts or reminders to make sure you get things done on time.

Electronic organizing tools can be helpful because they can remind you of due dates, meetings, etc. through text messages, emails, and on-screen alerts. They can also link notes, web sites, and more together so it's easier to find things.

Here is how I stay organized: 
(I use electronic resources and can access them from anywhere)
(Technology I'm using daily as a School District CIO)

1. I have a Android Smartphone running on Verizon so I can access all of the tools I use at any time. That means I'm always able to take notes, create a task or calendar event, and review all of my stuff any time, anyplace. I can access all of my emails, my Google CalendarGoogle Task List, and Evernote from it. I can also access all of my files via Dropbox. (and all of this is accessible from any computer and always in sync through the cloud)

2. I use Microsoft Outlook at work for email and calendar and contacts. I also have this syncing to my smartphone. I can also export emails and contacts to Evernote to keep things even more organized.

3. I use Evernote to take notes, organize notes, organize info and web clippings, and as a project planning tool. I have access to this from any computer and from my smartphone. I organize notes into notebooks and also have tags, making them easier to find when I need them. This is my main tool and includes all of my notes, files, task lists, and more. I even have a note that has all of my web page links on it and I use that as a start page.

4. I even have an app for my phone that will alert me when I am near a place that I have a task for (via GPS) and have been using Google Now more and more to help stay organized and plan my day.

There are some great tools specifically for students, like Trackclass, Shoshiku, and Dweeber that can help them get organized with their classes, schedule, and notes.

For those who still like paper planning and organizing, there are some great paper planning tools. In addition, a Livescribe Pen and pad offers paper note taking and planning, while syncing it to your computer and/or Evernote.

Paper Planning Resources (not free)
Franklin Covey - great paper planning systems, but a little pricey for students.
Day Timer paper planners
DIY Planner - make and print your own planner pages
Planner Pads - paper planners
Day Runner - paper planners
Mead Student Planners
Student Planner USA - some nice ones on here (and not expensive)
SchoolMate Student Planners

You can also create and print out your own calendars and task lists. There are a huge number of sites that have these, and MS Word has templates for it.

There are also some great student planners that you can customize for your school, adding in school calendar and schedules. They also have some great reference pages in the back, including math, English, science, study tips, college planning and more references. Here's one we've used:  Premier Agendas for College Ed. There are a variety out there, and I don't endorse any specific one.

Great Tips, Resources and Ideas for Going Paperless in the New Year
Electronic Planning Resources (free)
Student Planner Software (all free) (lots of good ones here to share with your students)

Organizing Resources
Online Organizing
Get Organized Now - great site with great tips and resources
Julie Morgenstern - professional organizer with some great tips and resources

The big thing to remember is that you have to use your system consistently and you have to take a time to plan out your day. You have to prioritize things and realize that free time and sleep sometimes have to take a back seat to priorities. However, if you plan things well and do things each day, you can avoid the sudden backlog and all-nighters that many students end up experiencing.

Basic Steps for being organized:
1. Plan Ahead (every day)
2. Make a ToDo (or task) list
3. Put things in your calendar (and check your calendar during your planning)
4. Students: write down your assignments and due dates in organizer
5. Students: study/work on homework a little each day to stay ahead
6. Stick to your schedule and commitments
7. Reward yourself with some free time.

Administrators, Teachers and students can benefit greatly form being organized. You are more efficient, get things done on time, don't forget things, and generally have less stress.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...