Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Getting Organized

With as much as I have going on this semester, I obviously need to organize my time well. I may have poked a little fun at my friend who had her kids' backpacks ready to go, but the truth is, I need to be that organized too. It's just a matter of priorities. School supplies are not a priority for me. It's something that can be delegated to the kids. In truth, I need my kids to share the burden and be a bit self-sufficient. If they weren't, I'd be in big trouble. And I'm lucky that for the most part, they take on responsibility without a complaint.

With a blissfully me  eting-free day yesterday, I was able to get back into  my GTD system at work. I'm using Airset to track my lists a la the GTD TiddlyWiki, which I liked, but which I lost when my computer died a while back. I'm planning to reconstitute my treo to use just as a palm or buy a stripped down palm to sync everything together. 

Here's what I'm doing so far:

  1. First thing in the morning, I go through email.  Anything that takes less than five minutes to deal with, I take care of and respond to immediately.  Other things get filed into one of the many email folders I have.  One of those is a to-do for tasks that don't fit into a project.
  2. Next, depending on the schedule I have for the day, I like to continue in the email vein and send emails. 
  3. I will then look at my to-do folder and schedule longer tasks.  Some tasks I may jot down on a piece of paper or put into my airset lists with reminders to make sure I get them done.  These I will often do when I have some time before meetins and whatnot.
  4. I have project folders, both physical and virtual.  When I do my weekly review, I go through all of these and brainstorm about what needs to be done with them and determine next tasks for those.  If they're not already on a list, I add these to the list.
  5. I carry around index cards and/or pads of paper.  During the collection process, I make sure these get added to a list.

Some things I haven't quite worked out yet:

  1. I'm trying to make time for reading, for keeping up with journals and blogs in my field. What I haven't really decided is how often I should do this--every day? And what should I do when I get interrupted? Should I make sure I don't get interrupted by going somewhere else?  I feel like this is an important thing to do and I am doing it in bits and pieces, but it feels disconnected.
  2. Scheduling a review time.  Unfortunately, I can't guarantee an hour or so a day that will be free to review.  My folders are languishing a bit because of this. When things get busy, this is the first thing to go.  I think what I need to do is to go week by week.  On Monday, I need to say, what day looks good as a review day. 
  3. Delegating. I have students and colleagues whom I can pass tasks on to.  The hard thing is figuring out which tasks are appropriate to pass on and how much information I need to give the person in order to complete the task.  I also need a way to check in and make sure the task is complete.  I'm thinking for my students, I'm going to use a blog.  I rarely pass on tasks to colleagues since we kind of work in silos here.
  4. Figuring out what tasks just shouldn't be done. This is a tough one, especially when it comes to doing things for faculty.  On the one hand, I want to provide the best support I possibly can.  On the other hand, I'm not here to do your work for you. Over the last week, I've received many requests to do things which faculty have the ability to do, but they may not know how to do the task.  I'm always torn between sending along instructions and just doing it for them.  Occasionally, I've sent instructions and the person on the receiving end has not been happy about that.  Also, the general boundaries of my job are not always clear, typical in a small organization, but I think I need to prioritize a bit more.
That's just the work life.  At home, I've put the kids to work more and I'm also using airset for the family calendar.  Getting Mr. Geeky to use it is another story, but we're getting there. We also have a physical calendar on the fridge.  The school blogs are going to be huge for me. No more piles of paperwork!!  Home is the place I'm always trying to tweak into a more organized machine, but it's also the place where a lot of the rigidity I impose on myself at work can fall by the wayside.  So I think I'm satisfied with the way things are there for the most part.

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