11 June 2008

Another long day in the library. I've been on campus since 7:30 this morning and have been hard at work ever since, with a quick lunch break around 2:30. And I'll stick to it for at least another 45 minutes. Nothing like a long day on a hard chair (curse the library reading room which poses the choice between a chair with a cushioned seat but which screws my back up or a chair with no cushioning but which supports my back).

I haven't done much work towards my exams today. What I have done is explore and begin using a couple of new time management devices. And I'm really excited about them. One of my biggest challenges has always been keeping myself on task. I tend to think about my projects as wholes, rather than as processes with many discrete steps that can be taken individually. The result of that kind of thinking is that I'm daunted by the sheer size of my projects and I have a really hard time moving. So I'm excited about new tools that will help with time management and efficiency.
  • A few months ago, J(wh) suggested I read David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. I started it and actually made it through about 2/3 of the book. But it was sacrificed to my proclivity to thinking whole. It seemed like the only way to implement the book's plan was to do everything right away and I couldn't see my way to doing that. So when J(wh) shared the Thinking Rock software based on Allen's book, I took a look. Today I downloaded it and have been entering projects and tasks. And I'm really impressed. It let's you not only create a list of tasks, it prompts you to define where a task must be accomplished, link tasks in projects, brainstorm what needs to be done, etc. I think it will be really useful.
  • When I commented to J(wh) (yes, he is my source of most tech tips) that I wished Google calendar had a task list, he told me about Remember the Milk, an online task manager that offers an interface with Google calendar. I'd prefer to simply use Thinking Rock, as it has greater capacity for organizing projects and tasks, but it's not web-based (not yet, anyway). And I want to be able to access my daily task lists online in case I don't have my laptop with me. So I'll spend a few minutes transferring tasks to my Google calendar when I do a daily review each morning.
  • And finally a research tool: Zotero. I found this a few weeks ago (actually even longer ago than that, but it resurfaced a few weeks ago when I actually checked it out). And I have to say that this is an amazing research tool. Incredibly easy to use. Wonderful capacity as a tool. If you're looking for a way to manage your research, I think this is about the best option I've seen.
So now that I've taken steps to make myself more efficient, hopefully I'll make better strides in terms of productivity.