A few years ago I made a commitment to get better organized. I have always been a bit of a procrastinator, and I was applying to PhD programs so I could not risk it. The crazy thing, it helped me with my work, friends and family! I found some tools along the way that really helped and I wanted to share them with you.
I can’t “put the cart before the horse,” so we need to talk about the end game. Before talking about apps that helped me get organized, it is important to talk about setting goals. You need to set goals so that you can effectively prioritize your time and resources.
I think it helps to set both short-term and long-term goals at the same time. Just about every book I have read on goal setting suggested writing them down. There are times I swear I have Papyrophobia, but really, I just like digital. For me, the following apps helped me solidify where I expect to go in life.
I use Asana regularly here at EducationQuest, and I love it. I feel the strength of Asana is in its ability to collaborate with other team members. I like that it is straightforward and easy to navigate. It’s not fancy, but it’s powerful.
In school, I find Asana most helpful at managing group projects. I can create tasks for each team member and we can all see when certain elements are done. There is even a chat feature to keep us all on the same page.
Trello has a very interesting layout. It is like having sticky notes on my screen. For me, it makes sense to have projects set up as boards and then the tasks can be moved from “Not Started” to “In Progress” to “Final Stages.” For some projects I use generic headings, but for many of my projects I had some fun naming them. For example, for my PhD application, it was “Writing” to “Revising” to “Editing.” For a personal hockey project, it went from “Defensive Zone” to “Neutral Zone” to “Offensive Zone.”
I have found that the cards can get a bit cluttered at times. I am sure that is just the way my mind works, but it can be a bit busy to look at. They have an app, but I felt it was better to have a wider view of the project progress. I found myself on the website more than the app.
Once I started down this path of organizing my life I figured out that I had no idea how long things took to get done. In the past, I had procrastinated until the end, slammed the project together and prayed for a good result. Part of being organized is planning ahead, and I can’t plan on what I don’t know.
Harvest was a huge help to me. It let me track how long I spend on different tasks. Thanks to Harvest, I knew that on average it takes me X number of hours to research a paper and Y hours to write it.
This may seem trivial to you, I know it would have to me. I can’t stress enough how helpful it is to know exactly how much time things take. It’s not important that you write faster than another student, it’s important that you can plan on how long it takes you. This allowed me to schedule my life around this. I could carve out six hours to write and still make hockey games, golf outings and hangout time.
Those are some apps that can help you get things in order and be more efficient in life. If you have an app you love, one that helps you thrive, leave a comment below with a link. I would love to talk to you about it.