If your day is anything like mine, you are bombarded with information throughout the day–more than you can conceivable process, and certainly more than you are able to act upon. Successfully managing this deluge is not only key to being efficient, but helps ensure that opportunities for personal growth and development are not missed.
At about this time each year, I would usually establish an elaborate scheme for keeping track of appointments, tasks, notes, and professional articles. My “system” usually involved a planner, an online task list, folders, labels, and way too much paper. It was so complex that it is difficult to explain, and therein lies the problem. I’m not saying that razzle-dazzle can’t be efficient, but it didn’t work for me.
So here is where I am at when it comes to managing information. I utilize a handful of Web 2.0 applications that give me instant and ubiquitous access to resources I deem important. There is no shortage of tools and systems to help us stay organized, but these are my personal preferences.
My primary information aggregator and dissemination tool. Simply an awesome tool for professional development and interaction. Also, something I have written about in prior posts (5 Reasons I Use Twitter–and you should too), so I will spare you the details.
I always have my Google Calendar open–it has simply been a great tool for managing multiple appointments, on multiple (color-coded) calendars. It is also very helpful to be able to share calendars with others, so they can see what my schedule looks like and plan accordingly. In addition, I have started using the “tasks” feature in Google Calendar. It is relatively simplistic, but that is what I like about it. I have tried other online task managers, but find them too cumbersome to be of much use. Google Tasks allows you to add tasks to specific days, where they appear as reminders. Google Calendar also syncs with my phone so I have access where every I go.
It is like having an electronic notebook in all places, at all times. Documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms and drawings–numerous tools that can be used to create, store, and share information. Among other things, I use Google Docs to write blog posts, survey staff and students, create images, and maintain lists. Again, accessible anywhere.
This little tool has saved me numerous times by automatically sending Tweets (and retweets) that contain links to my bookmarking application of choice–Diigo. It also works with Historious and Delicious. Packrati.us uses any hashtags you include as tags for your bookmark and includes the full text of the tweet in the bookmark comments. If it’s worth tweeting, it’s worth bookmarking.
My utilization of Evernote has become increasingly limited (due to Google docs and Packrati.us/Diigo), but I still like it for storing pictures from my cell phone, or for saving tweets (without links) for later reference. Simply send a message/picture to the address provided with the Evernote account, or attach the #EN hashtag to a tweet, or retweet, and presto…information saved for review at your convenience.
My RSS feed reader of choice. This allows me to stay updated on my favorite blogs, tweet posts, save favorites and e-mail information to friends and colleagues. Looking for a way to get started, check out Clive Elsmore’s (@CliveSir) Ed Blog Collection. This will give you plenty of information to manage.
You will note a heavy reliance on Google, however, for me, it makes sense to take advantage of the integration that Google provides among it’s tools. If you feel I am terribly misguided with any of these information management tools, let me know. I am always looking for suggestions.
In the meantime, do your best to ride the world-wide information wave. Surf’s up.