Digital Decluttering & Time Management


I don’t do ‘New Years Resolutions’, choosing rather to change things in small steps throughout the year. The Christmas ‘holidays’ however, can give a chance to do a bit of extra sorting … and with my house near-enough in ‘maintenance’ phase, I turned my attention to my digital spaces, including a  new 2TB hard-drive which rescued 90% of the data from my previous hard drive (which sounded distinctly unhealthy), and allowed reclassification and removal of duplicates, so annual photo albums dating back to 2007 are in progress!

So, when to find time to do this kind of thing – let’s look at the time management tools I’ve developed over the past year to focus my attentions (having managed to largely keep on top of Inbox 0 for 19 months):

1) Google Calendar

Google calendar is so simple to use, accessible on all devices, easy to add new meetings on the move, and easy to share with other users. I have 3 main calendars running, one for CODEC, one for Digital Fingerprint, and one for everything else. Colour-coded, it offers quite an easy way to see if any parts of your life have taken over more of the calendar than they should!

2) Microsoft Word Table

I use a simple 4×4 table, recurring as often as required, which has “the big dates”: top layer for CODEC, purple for Digital Fingerprint, and blue for everything else. I first did this 2 years ago, and a quick check once a month helps to keep on track and see how realistic I’m being:

deadlines3) ToDoIst

I’ve used electronic to-do-lists for 3+ years. When my previous one failed last year, I moved to todoist, and with it’s premium features (especially the ability to add files to to-do items, which means they can be removed from emails!), and finally discovering sub-projects today, this one ‘ticks all my boxes’! I can access the list via the web, on an android phone, and an iPad ..


No need to get overwhelmed as one needs only to look at the project/sub-project that one is working on (and one is advised to keep the tasks ‘small’), or just the next 7 days things ‘to do’.


The only trouble is, if it doesn’t make it onto the list, it may get forgotten! But one can see what one has done (and I’m particularly proud of the fact that there’s several days with nothing done):



As time can fly past whilst one is ‘looking in the other direction’, was great to hear about this piece of software from Dave at work. Decided to try it for a week, just monitoring CODEC time/output, and several weeks later I’m still using it. Stop/start, assign items to particular categories, and see where your time is going. It gives useful data that encourages one to think about where time  is going – as always – use the tool insofar as it helps, don’t let it rule you!


5) Bundlr

Alongside Pinterest (which is more visually focused), I encountered Bundlr whilst I was collecting articles related to Raising Children in a Digital AgeIt can be quite a useful ‘dumping ground’ for articles, etc. – allowing todoist to list “read articles” re a particular topic, rather than an overwhelming number of thing to-do.


Overall, you’ll see that this is about managing focus, and managing overwhelm – leaving more time, space and energy for a more fulfilling life! As each of these have been absorbed as habit, brain space is freed up for more creative thinking…

What works for you?

#Advent20 with @briandraperuk

A beautiful light shimmers in the darkness.

Summarising the #Advent20 journey with Brian Draper:

And so, returning to Advent, we remember the words of the apostle John, as we draw towards this journey’s end: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… In him was life, and that life was the light of all [people]. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Brian asked us to sum our the advent journey in 6 words: “In the darkness, the light exists”

I wondered if that was too obvious, but that’s what comes to mind. Life still feels quite dark/wilderness like at times, and the little gems have really helped! I still vaguely remember from years ago a sermon someone gave re faith – like a match petering out in the darkness, but it’s still flickering .. and J John talking about in the darkest of night skies, the stars twinkle and beckon… 



Been enjoying the company of others around the country on Brian Draper‘s #Advent20 series – and the poem below got me thinking about the pressures on so many on the Christmas season.. being away or abroad for several Christmas’s can make you think differently… (hence e-card, rather than paper cards)

And if, as weeks go round, in the dark of the moon

my spirit darkens and goes out, and soft strange gloom

pervades my movements and my thoughts and words

then I shall know that I am walking still

with God, we are close together now the moon’s in shadow.

DH Lawrence, Shadows

Be your Own Guru…in the Digital Age (@BeyondChoc)


In 2009, I went to a 1 day event with ‘Beyond Chocolate’. I’ve been working with their materials ever since, and got more involved this year – including becoming content provider for the Facebook page .. making lots of small changes to attitudes/things doing … and I could definitely see the influence on Raising Children in a Digital Age (everything in life influences everything else, right…)… so I wrote this little blog post!

#Advent20: Tunnelling


I’ve got a couple of Anne Lamott books on the shelves after Greenbelt this year, so this quote via Brian Draper chimes and challenges:

“My understanding of incarnation is that we are not served by getting away from the grubbiness of suffering. Sometimes we feel that we are barely pulling ourselves forward through a tight tunnel on badly scraped elbows. But we do come out the other side, exhausted and changed.” Anne Lamott

For more explanation of ‘incarnation’, see:

incarnation is about actively showing up, being fully here, now – and it offers a Way in yet also through our present darkness. It’s by walking this Way purposefully, faithfully, that we are transformed, step by step, and in the process become transformative.

As Richard Rohr puts it so beautifully, “Transformed people transform people.”


Love this quote from today (#(digi)disciple-ship in being):

‘To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.’

So, does this image make sense in that context (more to it than this, but we are made as we are made – see GWL feedback from Oct 14 – acknowledge it’s there, and moooove on):


#Adventbookclub: Martha #advent20


Luke 2: 1-7

Martha is the name given the Innkeeper’s wife in this version of the story. She’s a rather cynical woman who’s done her fair share of midwifery, and, clearly feels she’s been taken advantage of frequently, so is quite tough with a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude. She saw both desperation and dignity in Joseph and Mary, however, and so took pity on them. She gives a clear impression of just how dirty and dingy the space was, with straw full of excrement, probably not refreshed for several days (due to lack of time), with a trough (manger) provided for the forthcoming baby. We get a sense of just how scary this was for Mary – she’s young, and not experienced giving birth before… she goes through the full painful process.. and then engages in some ostentatious breastfeeding! Martha doesn’t understand it all, but feels that there is something different .. likening it to a new fire being kindled…


Brian thinks about those who make such a big effort for Christmas, and questions what elements of Christmas we should really/truly be making an effort for:

But it matters that we try. I mean, what was it about Christmas itself that proved so powerful that the guns fell silent, albeit briefly, in December 1914?

If Jesus was born as a child, what else is possible for us to achieve?

#CORPUSMOOC Week 4 Notes

There are some things you can do whilst on the sofa with a fuzzy head and streaming nose right? A bit slower than usual, but still… 

Warm-Up Activity … appears to involve using Antconc … wonder if reaching the limits of this course on a theory only basis… let’s see…

Look at the files on your hard drive: How many documents do you have on there which have been written by you? What time period does that collection of documents cover? What types of genres do those documents represent?

Collection of documents from at least 3 years, with some older files back to the 1990s, largely writing, speaking (including video examples), press captures, poster images, with a few HTML files downloaded from the net.

How many words do you think are in your personal corpus if you saved approx. 12 documents in one genre as an example and run through AntConc?

100,000+, with lots of use of words such as is, for, the, etc I suspect – expect highly ranking would be digital media, children, internet, social media, propaganda, poster, history, food, body image.

VIDEO 1: Building your own Corpus

As teachers, look at a corpus of student writing (or speech?) – wouldn’t be as large as pre-existing “learner corpora”, but you’d have more control/be more familiar with the content of it.

Kennedy (1998, p70-85)

Design: Without a solid design, nothing else works. What is it going to be used to do? What research questions are we defining? And what are we comparing it to? Speech or writing? Time periods? How big does the corpus need to be? Depends on restrictiveness of language you’re analysing (e.g. adverts = very short, so small corpus allowed analysis across a range of adverts).

British National Corpus needs to be large (100million words) to represent the range of language.

Brown Corpora = only about 1 million words each seems to work, but covers only written text and not all forms of writing.

A rare feature (e.g. hereof) requires a larger corpus than common words (e.g. because). Sometimes you have to settle for what you can get (time//££ may limit).

What about the individual size of your files within corpus? Ensuring that one is not over-represented? E.g. 5 essays per class, 15 essays from another – still take all essays, but tag/annotate to double-check balance. What about length of writing? E.g. Take samples of 300 words per essay (grammatical interest)? But this loses analysis of the overall structure of the text. What about samples from different parts of the text as words associate with beginnings/middles/ends (skewed)? Think about size/representativeness with a pilot study, think about how you’d store articles on your computer (see image: age/ID No/Essay), how might stratify data in order to ask good questions of it.

VIDEO 2: Building a Corpus: The Basics

Keep a list of sources of information, by whom, when (if not obvious from the text), when accessed, gender, topic, language, etc… but only if relevant to research question, or to those who might use your data at a later date.

For under 18s = need parental permission, otherwise subject permission. (Letters re purpose of research, anonymity). If going to share data with others, then need to sign a copyright release form. Ensure anonymisation/ethics.

Sources? Word-process by hand (interesting but time-consuming, but necessary for spoken), scan-in (time consuming to error check), ask friends, etc for texts, buy, or use an existing corpus that’s in electronic form (care with copyright for materials directly from the internet – but are number of text archives available).


Note differences between ‘spoken language’ and ‘written to be spoken’ language – not a problem unless you claim that scripts are representative of spoken language. 

BBC Webpage: given as example to collect data from, note the issue of underlying code – so save file in text-only format., although text as image may require typing in e.g. highlight boxes. Or strip e.g. menu text, or copy/paste text… or use e.g.


Consider using to collect material.

VIDEO 3: Mark Up and Annotation

Add meta-data to help analysts … Header files = title, date, author, etc.

Annotation for stylistic interpretation… e.g. heading levels. But only if you’re interested in the features that help your question.

If sharing with others, you need to be clear about the system, so others can use it.

Grammatical annotation can be done fairly quickly with computers, but accuracy is not always great, especially if using rare-words/mis-spelling not recognised. May have to ‘error tag’ – has to be done manually.

VIDEO 4: American English

Corpora at Brigham Young University, from range of sources, includes historical data. OED dictionary of historical English…

COCA – ‘Must’ is most frequent in academic writing, and least frequent is spoken language – it’s a word in decline, especially after the 1990s.

BNC – only contains texts to 1993.