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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Fab Five of Time & Life Management



There are some amazing tools I use to help me manage my ridiculous work load. I'd like to share my favorites.

1) Remember the Milk 
This oddly named list service is a powerhouse.  Not only can I add items to my list via texting from my cell phone (using twitter) and via my voice (using Jott), but the ability to create tag clouds and sort by location (it puts my list items on a Google map) lets me manage my list in useful ways that help me Get Things Done.  I've got my family set up with accounts and we share our lists and can add things to each other's list.  It is a great service.



Ways to Make Remember the Milk More Useful: 
Use the iGoogle Gadget - The remember the milk gadget for igoogle is more useful than the service itself.  I have multiple lists, so on one tab in igoogle for work, I show my "It support" and "work" list, and another tab I show my "personal" and "cool cat teacher" list.  Also, the tool to add items to remember the milk is more powerful in the igoogle gadget than the Remember the Milk Website. 

The trick is to add the Remember the Milk widget to your igoogle page 2-3 times and then click Settings to select which list you wish to see.  I have several lists:  IT / Tech Support, Work, Personal, Cool Cat, Christmas, Chores, Inbox, and Sent. 

Set up the Email Feature
I can forward emails to remember the milk and it attaches the email as a note.  This is useful because it allows me to clean out my inbox and add things to my list at the same time!   I archive the item in my inbox, but the email itself is added to the list item as the notes.   I'm still learning about this one.  There is also an add in for gmail to put the list beside the email list.

Customize the Jott Service
The only thing I don't like is the name and until I figured it out, I had to say "remember the milk" to put items on my list using Jott. When you click "Add Links" in Jott, just customize what you will say and then pick the list you will have it go to as shown in the graphic.

I have a Jott set up for "Work List," "Home," "Personal," etc.  so I can call from my cell phone and talk to my list.  It is put on my list automatically and sends me back a confirmation that it worked!

My Favorite Cranky Geek, John C. Dvorak,  gave a rare endorsement to the service in his column this past week in his column.  With the exception of a really odd name, this list service has my love.

2) Google Calendar
I love Google calendar and the ability to share calendars with my family AND my classes. (see my class wiki pages) Using Jott, I can send things to my Google Calendar using my voice from my cell phone and the Quick Add feature (which lets you type "Baseball on Thursday from 6- 9 pm in the quick add box and it pencils in the calendar) are great.

Ways to Make Google Calendar More Useful
Set up multiple Jott accounts to the Google Calendar.  From the Jott FAQ Page:

"Q: Can I Jott to multiple Google Calendars?
A: Yes! During the process of adding the Google Calendar Jott Link, you will be asked to select which calendar you would like to Jott to hold down the control key and select all the calendars you would like to Jott.

You can also set up to separate Jott Links to Google Calendar if you prefer to keep your Google Calendars independent of each other. If you choose to create several Jott Links to Google Calendars, remember to name them differently when adding them so we know which calendar to add that Jott to."
 This means that I can call Jott and say "Personal Calendar" and it adds it to my calendar or "Davis Family Calendar" and it adds it there. 

Learn to use Gvent from your Cell Phone

Wikipedia actually has the  best one page description for how to use GVENT.  US cell phone users can text to GVENT to add calendar items, get a list of upcoming events, and check the calendar for any day. 

  • Send "next" to get a notification regarding your next scheduled event.
  • Send "day" to get a notification containing all of your scheduled events for the present day.
  • Send "nday" to get a notification containing all of your events for the following day.
  • Send any date (e.g., June 8 or June 8 2007 or 6-8-07...) to get a notification containing all of your events for that day.
  • To create an event via SMS, simply send a text message containing your event's details (For best results, follow the format for the "Quick Add" feature).
 Embed Google Cal Everywhere
Share the Google Cal on your wiki by using the sharing tab. Teach your students to add it to their Google Cal and then teach them to add their Google cal to their igoogle page!  When my students launch the internet, my assignment and lesson plan is right there in their igoogle page!  Also, it lets you combine calendars when you customize the calendar layout. 

Print Calendars for Your Classes and Clubs

So many times teachers spend time in Publisher or Word creating and updating calendars.  I'm happy to say I'm a liberated calendar maker now!  Now, I just hide all of the other calendars and print just the calendar I want!  My children have calendars, my classes, my clubs, and my family.  I've switched to this service because it works.

3) Timebridge
This multi time zone uber-meeting scheduler is like my personal secretary.   I used to sync it with Outlook, but now, I sync it with Google Cal to show me when I'm available (remember Outlook sychs w/ Google Cal also if you wish) and helps me create 5 times for a potential meeting.  I send the meeting invitation to others, they select the time they can come and it schedules the first available time we can all attend.  Then, after putting it on our calendar, it will remind us of the event and let people add notes.  Cool Cool service. 

It spans time zones so well!

How to make it better
Share your availability with those you meet with often.  Make sure that you keep your calendar up that it sync's with, but if you do, then, that person who is so hard to meet with can invite you to a meeting instead.

Add the TimeBridge  button to the top of your web browser for instant meeting scheduling.  I've found that almost everyone I share this handy app with installs it for themselves.  It is very useful, particularly when multiple time zones are involved.

4) Jott
Jott is the best friend of your cell phone and life.  This handy service interfaces with so many other services.  My students LOVE it!  Jott lets you call and speak who you wish to Jott to, and then send a message via your voice.  Sometimes the transcription can be tough, but if you will spell out proper names or websites, it usually does a spot on job.  Speak slowly and take some time. 

You can Jott reminders to yourself and also use it to send messages to people who have emails and/or cell phones and it will attach the voice message for email services.

Ways to Make Jott Better

Add Jott Links - Link to remember the milk, Google Calendar, and a multitude of other services can be linked.  Remember that you can set up more than one link for each service to send it to multiple lists and multiple calendars. 


Set up a Group List for your Family
I've found the group list especially handy.  For example, when I had a bird hit my plane in Albany and had problems, I was able to call Jott and say "family" - the message I sent was emailed and texted to everyone on my family list.  Just remember that when you say a proper name, you should spell it out.  It takes a little bit of getting used to, but when you do it is very helpful for life.  (It will even Jott to twitter or your blog, but I'm afraid b/c of typos to do so.)  I taught my students to do this for safety reasons.  That way, if they could make one phone call, they could send one message and it would go to everyone in their family. 

5) My igoogle Page
This is my dashboard and includes my lists, Google Reader, Google Calendar, Gmail, Ping.fm widget, and rss Feed for my Facebook notifications (since I cannot use facebook at school.)    It usually stays up on my screen all day.  I can add items to my list, my calendar, and send messages out to all of you!

It knits everything together.

Remember to Print
I still print a copy of my list and calendar every so often.

What Did I Miss?
There are so many things I don't know about these services, so if you have a handy tip, please share them in the comments. 

I taught this to my students and they were very excited.  I also taught them how to use Google 411, GOOGLE SMS Searching,and 4info.net.  These hand services will keep them safe, help them look up addresses for GPS, and keep up with things. 

Fifty per cent of my students carry planners to class.  Ninety five percent have their cell phones in their pocket.  Now which is a better time management/ life organization tool? 

I want to empower them to take control of their lives.  I'm excited about how I'm finally catching up with things since I started using these services in early August.  It has taken time, but I'm feeling a renewed energy that comes from feeling on top of my game again.  I'm starting to exercise, eat right, take time to pray and read my Bible, and am starting to lose weight.  We all have TOO MUCH to do, so we need to get better at handling it all.

My next purchase:  An Ipod Touch -- the best, most untalked about PDA out there!

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