After watching David Allen’s TED Talk on The Art of Stress Free Productivity, I was really intrigued. It got me thinking about my own personal productivity, both inside the classroom and outside of the classroom. Allen says that there are 5 stages to mastering workflow: Collect, Process, Organize, Review, and Do. After thinking about these stages, I used a low tech tool (pen and paper) to notice and document what kinds of technologies I use to manage my life in order to be more efficient. In the TED Talk, Allen says it is important to “Notice what’s on your mind”. So, I created a list. This list was divided into the 5 stages and I noted tech tools and resources that I already use (or have used in the past) or thoughts I had about each stage to decompose my own workflow. Here is my list….
Process: My email organization. I leave “unfinished business” in my inbox to make sure that I take care of it.
Review: I look over and revisit all of my lists and organization tools
Do: Star or Highlight priority items (or put them in a sequential list, high priority at the top)
One technology tool that I use, in the classroom and at home, is 30/30. This app is helpful to me because I can create several lists. I can design them by prioritizing, sequencing, and color coding. The most effective feature of this app is that it allows me to assign a certain amount of time to each task. When the task’s time is up, a timer will go off to let me know I need to transition to my next task on the list. The initial task will be moved to the bottom of the list. If it is completed, I am able to delete it. If it is uncompleted, it stays at the bottom of my list to revisit at another time. One example of how I use this in the classroom is to time each stage of Reading Workshop (Mini Lesson, Guided Reading Groups, Student Conferencing, Wrap Up). This helps me stay on task so that I don’t get too wrapped up in one aspect. This is also a nice tool to use just for creating lists that do not necessarily need to be timed, such as a grocery list. As I grocery shop and put things from the list in the cart I remove them from the list, by a simple swipe. When my list is empty, I can check out. 30/30 is free and user friendly.
Allen says that “if you set up a personal organization system structured with a projects list, a calendar, a next actions list and a waiting for list, not much will be required to maintain that system”. After reflecting on my current workflow, the area I would like to be more consistent in is the Reviewing Stage because I think that this strategy can help boost my workflow. I do look back at my lists. However, I revisit them at random times. Ideally, I would find time to do a weekly review to process and update all of my lists and stay current and updated. Rather than solely focusing on what I have left to do, a personal goal is to take note of what I accomplished for the week. I can then begin to recognize my productivity. Down the road I would begin to notice trends in my productivity, which may help me realize what is working and what isn’t. Next, I will be able think of ways to better my practice.
A tool that I think will help my workflow is Evernote. I listed this as a tool that I have used. However, I know that I do not use it to its full potential and that I only do surface level work on it (create lists). I’ve only created two lists ever with this tool. A travel packing list with checkboxes so I could check off each item as I packed it and a list of contents inside a box that was packed away. I think this tool would increase my efficiency because it is capable of keeping everything in one central place. I think that my students can also find this tool useful. I look forward to learning more about Evernote and tweaking my Reviewing Stage of mastering workflow.
Allen, D. (2001). Getting things done: The art of stress-free productivity. New York: Penguin.