Organizing myself…why Google Calendar is great and Evernote is excellentPosted: August 3, 2011
I have been putting off the “organizing yourself” posts for cpd23 Things 8 and 9 for awhile, partially because I was focused on Library Day in the Life last week, but also because I’m finding it difficult to organize my thoughts about organization. I’ve always been a pretty organized person (isn’t that a librarian litmus test?), but I’ve never really tried to explain my personal strategies before.
Honestly, I would argue that organizing myself goes way beyond the technical assistance offered by tools such as Google Calendar and Evernote. But for now, let me focus on how I’ve incorporated this technology.
I have been using Google Calendar for a couple years, and I am well aware that it has potential beyond what I’ve explored. However, right now I’m happy enough using it to keep track of personal appointments only. My work calendar needs to stay in Outlook for collaboration purposes, but I would ideally love to sync the two, so that I have a place to view my entire schedule from anywhere without having to create duplicate events. I have discovered this is technically possible using Google Calendar Sync, but I unfortunately cannot download it because I don’t have administrator privileges on my work computer. Perhaps this post will inspire me to finally make this request! And while I’m at it, I’ve been contemplating asking to install Evernote and Dropbox on my work computer as well. These are all tools I’m finding increasingly useful in my personal organization, and would love to make full use of this technology at work, where quite frankly I need it the most.
My favorite thing about Google Calendar so far is how it helped me plan my schedule for the ALA (2009) and SLA (2010 & 2011) conferences I’ve attended. The official online conference planners weren’t been particularly user-friendly, so I started putting sessions that interested me into Google Calendar. It looks a little overwhelming, but this method allowed me to see my competing options in each timeslot. Ultimately, that made it easier to select sessions, schedule face-to-face meetups, and spot the free hours I could use for sightseeing.
This is about as much as I’ve done with Google Calendar to date. I maintained a paper calendar/planner through grad school because I found it easier to manage my daily to-do lists in written form. However, I’ve been paying less and less attention to it lately, so I suspect when I finally upgrade to a smartphone later this year, I’ll abandon the paper calendar altogether. I’ll probably keep some type of paper to-do list though, because nothing beats physically crossing off the items I’ve accomplished!
I have been experimenting with Evernote for a year or so, and I’m honestly still figuring out how I can use it most effectively. I’ve read some interesting posts about using it for uncluttering, saving time, and getting things done. I hope to implement at least a few of these ideas, but so far, I’ve mostly just been using it as an electronic commonplace book. I’ve clipped quite a few quotations and comics that amuse and inspire, but I can’t say it’s making me more productive so far.
I doubt I will ever be a strict Getting Things Done (GTD) follower, but I am intrigued by the concept. I think I might have more success with a system like Zen to Done, but even still I struggle a bit with the collecting vs. doing aspects of the structure. There’s a part of me that loves to collect information and make lists, but another part of me that feels like I should just DO the stuff rather than writing it down. I’ll go for awhile with really nice to do lists, but then hit a busy week and just plow forward with doing the most pressing things. While I can be productive either way, sometimes the changing rhythm frustrates me and I wind up reconsidering my organization strategies.
I’m in a reflective mood right now, so I have been trying to figure out how Evernote might be able to help in the collecting/planning stages. Perhaps the biggest shift I’ve made in the last few months is trying to clip articles to Evernote rather than bookmarking them for future reference. As much as I love Xmarks for syncing my bookmarks across computers, I suspect for certain content it will be more useful to search my notebooks rather than scan a list website titles.
We’ll see how it goes.
Have you discovered an approach to Google Calendar or Evernote that would complement mine? I’m always open to new tips and tricks!