Tag Archives: productivity

Using Evernote to be productive in campus min

There are a few ways that I consistently use Evernote. I’ve had it on my very first iPhone and have been using it ever since. I’ve come to accept that there are certain things that I just like better on paper, but there are other things that I will never use paper for.

Track your reimbursements that require no receipt.

Anything under $25 doesn’t require a receipt in Power to Change, so I have a new Evernote for every new reimbursement time period. I write down what was purchased, how much, where it was purchased and for what purpose. This is helpful because I don’t have useless receipts collecting all over the place, and when I open up my computer to do my reimbursements the info is already there in my Evernote. Once I’ve submitted those reimbursements, I’ll mark in the subject (DONE) and move it into my Reimbursement folder. I keep it handy in case I need to go back and review a cost for any reason.

Track your to-dos or GTD system

As a new staff one of the biggest challenges I had coming out of University was managing my schedule. Over the (few) years I’ve toyed with various productivity methods. I recently read a really helpful article (Master Life’s Juggling Act: Maximize Daily Productivity with Evernote, GTD and a Daily Portfolio) on how to use the GTD system in Evernote. I’m still figuring out how/if GTD is the best for me, but there are some things that are really helpful. I’ve followed a lot of the tips, especially the Daily Portfolio idea and have found it to be helpful. It’s nice, again, because it’s cross-platform (and free). Even if you don’t use GTD method, the Daily Portfolio might be helpful. For me, it’s useful because I think of all areas of my life including meal planning and excercise. One thing I’m far better at than the other.

Yesterday I took some time to set up GTD contexts and projects using tags (@call, @meeting, @office etc) and notes. My biggest problem with getting a GTD method going was failure to implement a regular review of my projects etc. I think with the addition of the Daily Portfolio, this might really work for me.

Track your discipleship plans/meetings with Evernote

This is one area where I just much rather use paper, yet  I don’t really want to have the papers lying around all the time and for forevermore. In a city that has so much staff transition (especially on the women’s side) I’m coming to see how important it is for us to be recording what we’re doing with the girls we’re working with. One girl I worked with had had 4 different staff disciplers during her four years on campus because there was so much staff transition. How do you know she’s not getting taught the same thing over and over?

A few years ago a coworker tried standardizing our discipleship tracking in the region and I found the worksheet she gave to be helpful. Last year i had a 1/2 sheet paper copy with me at all appointments so I could record everything in a neat system.

Here’s an example of a fake student here in Montreal. Click here for the Evernote template link. This year, I think I’m going to keep doing it on paper mostly because a student can understand you taking notes while meeting them. Plus for this instance I just like paper better. BUT, I will be taking a picture of the paper and putting it into Evernote so that there’s a digital copy in the event I get accidenta-pregnant or something and have to hand over discipleship to someone else.

There are other ways I use Evernote to help me manage my life, but they’re more home-related than work.

How about you? How do you use Evernote?

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Email is dead?

I have become that person…that person that the social media statistics talk about. Why is this a surprise to me?

All summer I’ve been hearing other staff complain about how they want to get rid of their email address or seeing productivity websites discuss how to get less email and manage your email better, and I’m hearing that Universities are no longer giving out email addresses to their students because email is seen as irrelevant or archaic. I never understood this fully.

I just sat down to write an email to my brother. It was a very weird thing for me. It felt so odd and out-of-place. For the past several months we have communicated entirely over twitter, text, Skype and maybe 2 phone calls. You might think that we don’t talk that frequently, but we do. Oh we are very well-connected. And when I emailed him to get his feedback about why I should get an iPad (because I’m really trying to convince myself this will be a useful tool cause I want one), it felt so… impersonal.***

Somehow twitter, to me, is more direct and personal than an email. So is Facebook. How did that happen, and when?? And what are the implications of this? I wonder, how much does the current university generation agree/disagree with me?

*** on the other hand, when it comes to MPD, I LOVE EMAIL because I can avoid awkward conversations.

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getting to know you (Part II)

[tweetmeme source=”jesslin”]
(Part I)

It’s been a few weeks since I sent out the email to my 91 people on my email newsletter list and requested they fill out my form in hopes that I would have more information about them, to help my MPM.

I have to say, it was a giant fail.

Out of 91 people I sent the email to, only 12 people responded. Interestingly enough, however, those 12 responded within 48 hours of sending the email, which is much quicker than had it been done by mail. So I guess that’s a meagre success.

The people who did respond were:

  • family
  • close friends (in the 23-26 age bracket)
  • a few surprise responses, people who didn’t seem very involved in my ministry before.

Why do I think this failed?
I think it really has to do with my very poor explanation of what I was doing. I sent a Google form embedded in an email that requested them fill it out so I could get to know them better. I forgot to explain why I was asking for the information and what I would be doing with the information. Maybe this doesn’t really matter, but even my brother responded to my email and said the email with the form embedded looked like spam, and so people who were unfamiliar with the Google form might be hesitant.

I’m debating whether to just let it die and chalk it up to a learning experience, or send out a reminder to fill out the form and a better explanation about what the information is for.

Was it a total failure?
No, I need to admit that it wasn’t a 100% failure. It did help me understand my supporters a bit better. People I already know to be more tech aware had no qualms with taking a minute and filling it out. The other thing that it was fantastic for was getting some very specific prayer requests from people I haven’t heard from in a while. People typically wrote ~100 words in the box for prayer requests, so they weren’t skimpy at all there. So maybe there’s something to learn there?

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Procrastination Hack

43Folders.com has a genius idea for getting things done when you’re a procrastinator and have a little ADD. This is me. When I read it, I knew it would work for me.

It’s called “(10+2)*5” and here’s why:

  • 10 – Work for ten minutes with single-minded focus on moving toward completion on a single task. Ten minutes, and that’s all you’re allowed to do is work, work, work. No cheating, because (DING!) you actually get a break when you’re done…
  • 2 – After ten minutes of sweaty, dedicated work you get a 2-minute break to do whatever you want—drink coffee, read 5ives, call your bookie, whatever. When the two minutes are up, it’s back to work on the next task on your list. This is important.
  • *5 – You’re going to iterate this four more times for a total of one hour’s working/breaking

Read more about it here.

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GTD (Part II)

It’s been a few weeks since I posted the first part of this series. I have tried and failed and am still working out the kinks of how this will work. I shared last time about how my mismanagement of my life was really just getting in the way of proper functioning. My desk was a mess and there were all these things, really important and good things, that needed to get done but weren’t. I wasn’t doing my reimbursements (and thus interest was accruing on my MasterCard), I wasn’t reading the project support letters my students were giving me (because they were put in one place that I kept forgetting to look), and I was just forgetting to do things I needed to do in general (because I had several different places I was writing things down, between my Moleskine agenda and my iPhone calendar and my google task list that I had slowly stopped updating).

So I needed a new system. BAD.

Thanks to LifeHacker I found a really easy explanation of the Getting Things Done system. I took control of the messy situation and searched Lifehacker for GTD tools. First, I found this great article that summarizes the GTD system for students. I found this pretty applicable for Campus Ministry for the most part, since our lifestyle is a lot like students in some ways. The way the article explained “contexts” was really helpful:

Contexts are an awesome way of organizing assignment to-dos. Instead of having one daunting list of homework, you separate each item by what materials you need to get it done. That way, when you’re trying do a little HW at your work-study job, you’re not trying to read books you don’t have with you or look up files that are on your desktop at the dorm. Your list of contexts can look however you like, but here’s a list of contexts that fit the student lifestyle (this is largely what mine looks like).

They suggested leaving those lists in the areas you work. A list on your desk of the things you need to do at your desk, a list on your iPhone/Blackberry of emails you can reply to on the metro or while waiting for someone etc. This was helpful for me to divide these things in my head and not just see one huge overwhelming list.

The second article I found really helpful was how to turn Gmail into the “Ultimate GTD Inbox“. This follows the method of filing emails based on how important they are, how much time it will require to reply, if you need more information or have to follow-it up. It uses Gmail Labs multiple inboxes and SuperStars functions. It’s a *bit* complicated to set up for some people, but totally worth it (for me, at least).

I realize that different systems work for different people. That’s been part of my problem is not fully understanding myself and what system would work the best for me. This is still a learning process for me, so I’d totally appreciate any suggestions you might have if you’re more learned in this area than me.

If you don’t think this system will work for you, check out this other article about the “Middle Way Method.”

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Joining the world of “GTD” (Part 1)

One of my greatest challenges this year & since graduting from University has been managing myself & getting things done. On my end of semester review when my director asked me what areas I felt I needed to improve in, this was my response.

For some reason life after University seems so much more complicated. Though sometimes I think I had more to do at University, it was all pretty straight forward: go to class, do assignments; go to C4C, get tasks done that were delegated to me. One thing I learned about myself in Uni was I operate on an “out of sight, out of mind/in sight too much, ignore it” basis. It works pretty much just like it sounds. If I can’t see something, I will eventually forget it exists. That applies to items in the fridge (yuck!), clothes in my dresser, assignments on past pages of my agenda, etc. The second part (in sight too much, ignore it) means that if I see it too much, it will blend in with the surroundings and I will forget about it. What I’ve noticed today was interesting: I will “lose it” faster if I see it on my task list (or out on the counter) and choose to procrastinate. This has gotten me in lots of trouble with roommates and coworkers as I so frequently put things off.

When I was first introduced to “Getting Things Done” by my older brother, I was skeptical that it would be effective for me, but because I was desperate to get my life in order I tried it.I became a believer instantly. It was eerie how I felt psychologically compelled to do an item immediately after putting it in my “inbox” if it took less than 2 minutes to do. Suddenly, I was accomplishing things almost against my will. my flesh was saying “procrastinate” and my mind was saying “that’s a waste of time, you can watch TV with satisfaction in a few minutes.”

So what changed? Two things:

  1. I didn’t have a good system in place to keep it up
  2. I allowed my other typical tendency of not following-through to overrule the inherent logic of GTD.

I imagine that #1 would have fixed #2 through positive reinforcement. All those good feelings of satisfaction after accomplishing so much in way less time. I gave up on the system sometime last year. I can’t remember exactly why. All I know is that I found myself time & time again wishing I hadn’t procrastinated and allowed myself to get into a bigger mess of un-replied-to emails, small tasks left unfinished and a really messy room.

I’m sick of all that. I need to get this in order. So I’m starting the process over again with my new life in the big city of Montreal, and I’ll show you how I’m going to do that and how you can too, if you’d like. Next post, that is.

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