Time and knowledge

I hold two jobs (professor and newsroom manager), I have two kids, two dogs, a husband and the drive to try and stay healthy. Each of those focuses require time and energy. On most days I’m juggling all of those responsibilities at the same time. I am lucky to have access to technology that helps me keep track of a lot of things at the same time. I’m constantly trying to modify my workflow to get better al all of these focuses. Often someone comes up to me and asks how I do everything that I do… I often just say, “I don’t know.” But there are some things I can explain… especially with the technology I use to back me up.

First, I own an iPhone ,an iPad and a Mac Powerbook. I subscribe to MobileMe so all of my calendar items match up no matter what tool I’m using to enter an event or responsibility. I do everything I can to not double book meetings. Using a $100 subscription to MobileMe seems a bit expensive, but it has saved me many, many times from overbooking or double booking my world. My calendar is organized by work, work outs, personal events, my children and specific roles I hold (events based on the classes I teach and my web responsibilities are examples). I haven’t merged my husband’s schedule into my calendar, but I’ve considered doing that as well. I recently added a category where I can put assignment desk story ideas into my own calendar because I’ve noticed my newsroom tends to lose news releases and scheduled events when I’m not tightly babysitting the paper version of our assignment files. The calendar system isn’t perfect, but I can easily see my busy schedule and try to keep up with it. (Of course everything I schedule can change at the drop of a hat if breaking news happens in our newsroom.)

My phone allows me to keep up with email as best I can. I also use Google Voice to get transcribed voicemails sent to me as a text message and as an email. This helps me respond to voicemails since I’m famously terrible at responding to them. This change in my life workflow has made me a better communicator with people who are phone communicators.

I tend to be more of a text-based communicator. I get swamped with email, so I don’t always respond fast enough for email senders’ liking. Quick conversations are better accomplished as text messages or Twitter direct messages. That’s because I am running around a lot during the day. I don’t have a lot of time to sit down and focus on an inbox. I usually have time in the morning to really respond to email and time after my kids are in bed at night. That means there’s a big chunk in the middle of the day when I’m not glued to my inbox. I’m glued to my phone, just not my inbox.

I’ve tried to fix my email problem by creating a specific semester-based email account for my students (I’ve created one for the fall, spring and summer semesters). That way I can notice email alerts from them and respond quicker. Since I look at my email on my phone the most, I have all of my inboxes open at the same time so it’s easily to see when there’s a new email in my class inbox. I’m not responding quickly to every person who sends me mail, but I want my students to get priority, and I don’t really want to create folders during each semester… I guess I’m lazy like that.

While I’m juggling all of the information coming in via email, text and social media (I mainly follow chatter on Twitter and Facebook), I try to keep up with industry discussions so I can stay up to date and help my students follow the many developments in this changing media world. I have “liked” newsrooms, blogs and other organizations across the country so I can see the updates in my Facebook news feed. I also keep track of the latest posts on Twitter along with specific topics I can follow thanks to Twitter lists. I’m working on a quick post on how I share all of those links I read and peruse with my students. I promise to share a link here when that happens.

As for keeping up with a list of to do’s… I’m still working on making that work. I have tried Things, Remember the Milk, Google Tasks, iCal To Do lists… But so far, I haven’t found the right way to really encorporate a list into my current life workflow. I’m hoping I find that perfect solution soon!

Do I keep up with everything? No. Are my eyes and ears open to a lot of conversations and activities at the same time? Yes! And I know the constant juggle of life and work that I can do with the help of technology helps make that possible.

7 comments ↓

#1 JasonG01 on 10.03.10 at 2:29 pm

I’ve never found a to-do system I like, either. RTM is too complex, GTasks is too simple, and multiple device support is a must.

I’ve toyed with the idea of building my own, just because. So if you’ve got any brilliant ideas about what a to-do list that can juggle everything at a glance looks like, I’d love to hear it.

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#3 Joy Mayer on 10.03.10 at 4:26 pm

What didn’t you like about Remember The Milk? I swear by it! Did you know you can DM tasks to @rtm, and they’re added to the list? Did you use the iPhone app?

#4 Jen Reeves on 10.03.10 at 5:23 pm

Joy – for some reason, I think I need everything to connect to my calendar. I can’t seem to keep up with a separate app. Maybe I should get back to trying RTM again… maybe I should see how you use it!

#5 Jacqueline Kazil on 10.03.10 at 9:54 pm

@Jen – something to add to your list… https://www.rescuetime.com/. It wil track how you are spending time on your computer and whether you are doing it constructively. Also, you can set it to disable distractions on your computer if you need to focus on a particular item.

I found it helpful to identify where and when I was losing time.

#6 Jen Reeves on 10.03.10 at 10:05 pm

That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing.

#7 Tristan on 10.04.10 at 5:04 am

Great article. In my previous self-employment I swore by Now-Up-To-Date. It had a very flexible to-do list function. Haven’t used it in years so I don’t know what its current mobile functionality is.

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