Prompt: What tools do you use to keep organized so things on your to-do list don’t slip through the cracks?
I am one of those people who are scatterbrained and utterly disorganized. If you see my work desk, all you’d see is a small space in the middle where I can dump my laptop; the rest of the space is covered with papers old and new. The walls of my carrel are covered with schedules and pictures and other knick-knacks. While my top drawer is something to be proud of, my bottom drawer is the complete opposite, a wastebasket in likeness.
As a teacher, I need to stay organized if I intend to finish anything at all given the mountain of work given. I’ve tried using planners, giving me an excuse to buy expensive coffee to avail of overhyped planners, but the planners just end up with my mom. I tried using to-do lists when I first started out teaching but they get buried in the pile of paperwork called my work table.
The one thing that works for me is Google Calendar and Keep.
I’ve been a Google user for more than ten years already. I was a Gmail beta tester, receiving one of those coveted invites to try Gmail out. Ridiculously proud, I made sure everybody knew I could give away 5 invites to Gmail.
Everyone was into Yahoo! back then, and while I was also a user, I wanted to explore Google Mail, which seemed pretty confusing and spectacular at the same time.
When they rolled out Calendar eventually, I didn’t really see the need nor the use for it immediately. It was only until I transferred campuses did I recognize the full potential of Google Calendar in helping me organize not just my work but my LIFE.
Because smartphones are pretty, well, smart, I could put in something on my calendar and have it reflect in my phone automatically. All I needed was to sign into my Google account on my phone. I love this because I get notifications on my phone when the deadline for something I have to do is coming up. This has been a tremendous help to me because it’s reminded me of deadlines and things to do and birthdays and even TV shows as well. I can sync as many calendars I have access to on my phone, and this has helped me plan meetings even when I’m away from my desk.
The small pop-up side notifications for events on my laptop are non-obtrusive but attention-grabbing, which assures you that you will be reminded of whatever it is you scheduled. The feature that lets you repeat events makes it easy to schedule weekly meetings or birthdays. The TASKS calendar lets you list down tasks separately from the rest of your events, so you can tick them off as soon as you’re done with them. Unfortunately, I haven’t figured out yet how to sync them to my phone, so I’ve taken to putting tasks as events in the Calendar.
All in all, I love the mobility and convenience that Google Calendar gives me.
Google Keep on the other hand is not used for scheduling but for lists not of the doing kind. I use Keep whenever I need to accomplish tasks that don’t necessarily have an urgent deadline. I also use it when I go out of town in the sense that I input the things I need to pack days or even weeks ahead and add to it as necessary. Then when I have to pack, I just go to my Keep widget on my homescreen (Yes, I’m an Android user) and tick off the things I’ve already packed.
This next one is not really related to organization, but I’ve also used Keep as a dream recorder. I’ve read writing tips that say one way to keep the ideas flowing is to record dreams, but I’ve found that reaching for pen and paper in the middle of the night when you wake up from a dream is a huge struggle especially if you don’t want to turn on the light to see what you’re writing. Keep lets me record my dreams when I wake up and I find myself still remembering it.
I’ve been in love with Google since that Gmail beta invite arrived in my now defunct Yahoo!mail inbox, and this is why I’ve held off on purchasing an iPhone. Sure, I use a Macbook for work, but I find that Android (the Google mobile OS) is a much powerful tool for multitasking and organization. However, I find myself facing “indirect” pressure to purchase an iPhone (again, for work-related reasons), and I’m having difficulty deciding on the matter. On one hand, it’ll make classroom work easier (I think) because we use Apple products in school and syncing Apple gadgets with each other is easier than to set up than between Apple and Android. Also, the iPhone doesn’t have widgets, which is something I’ve found EXTREMELY useful especially with Calendar and Keep.
I’m going to keep weighing the options, but I’m just happy that I found Google to help me with my organizational problems.