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):
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:
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!
Alongside Pinterest (which is more visually focused), I encountered Bundlr whilst I was collecting articles related to Raising Children in a Digital Age. It 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?
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.