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Staying Organized

October 2, 2013

I’m a busy person. My friends and colleagues know that if they want to get on my calendar, they need to plan early. Otherwise I’m trying to rearrange way too many things. And I’m not a fan of trying to rearrange things unless absolutely necessary. I also am always challenging myself on how to 1) be more sustainable and 2) make better use of constantly evolving technology to manage things. I was chatting with a group of students the other day about items I use to help manage my time and thought I’d share.

1. My Erin Condren Life Planner

I LOVE Erin Condren Life Planners! This is the second year that I have used one and I can’t live without it. The monthly and weekly layouts are wonderful. The stickers are so fun. I start out with color-coding the whole thing, but that tends to go by the wayside by the end of the semester. It has great space in the back to take all sorts of notes, and a great little pocket holder. It has cute quotes throughout, but the best part is that you can basically design your own cover design, with your name on it. Such fun. I went with a coral paisley design this year and pear colored back color. They are super durable with a hard plastic cover/back and a great steel coil. I’ve talked so much about them I’ve even convinced seven other people to buy them! They are a bit pricey, but it breaks down to pennies a day over the course of the year. Check them out:



2. Outlook

As much as I love my Erin Condren Planner and take it everywhere, I can’t function without my Outlook calendar. It is all nicely color-coded, easy to edit, and my entire office can see it and schedule things on it as needed. It is up constantly on my work laptop and is easily accessible by phone. Really, the best feature is the sharing ability. It makes my life much easier to just give someone access to my calendar and tell them to find a time that works for a meeting instead of going back and forth over times.


3. Evernote

This has replaced my old school padfolio, legal pads and post-it notes. It is basically an easy website to use to take notes in. You can create notebooks (like Psych 101, Writing,  To-Do, etc.) and then you can also tag each note entry (such as chapter one notes, staff meeting, etc). You can access your account via the website or there  are apps for my Ipad and Android phone. Do you know how nice it is not to have to remember to take a list to the grocery store with me? Or what a wonderful feeling it is not to try and track down the notes I wrote on a scrap of paper from a meeting? It is all in one place and completely organized by topic, I can even cross tag things in case it has multiple purposes. Best of all: it is free!


4. RSS Feed Reader

I became obsessed with Google Reader a few years ago, and then got a a lot of my friends and colleagues hooked. We were all pretty devastated when Google announced it would be shut down last July.  I spent a fair bit of time researching where to move my feeds and eventually decided on The Old Reader. Feedly and the AOL reader came in a close second, I may go to one if the Old Reader doesn’t work out. Basically, an RSS (which stands for Real Simple Syndication) feed is a way to have news and such delivered to one website so you can scroll through it. I have various things fed there: NBC world news, NBC US news, the Chronicle of Higher Ed, Inside Higher Ed, In Focus from The Atlantic, all of the various types of fun blogs that I follow, and the list goes on. I love, love, LOVE that I don’t have to waste my time going to 100 different websites a day to keep up on what is happening. I just check out my Old Reader feed and read at my leisure. Oh, other great features… you can create folders so that it all stays organized… I have a news folder, technology folder, blogs folder, travel folder, higher ed folder, and so on. You can also connect with other people and follow what they follow…. but that is just too much for me!

5. Get Pocket

As I mentioned, I’m busy. So there are plenty of times that I don’t have time to actually read all of those blogs or articles I’ve come across, but I don’t want to lose them. So I signed up for Pocket ( which I’ve linked to my Old Reader account. Basically, every time I come across an article in my Old Reader account that I want to read and don’t have to read, I click the “Pocket” button and it goes to my Pocket account. Once it is in that account I can tag it with any tag I want: higher ed, technology, travel, etc. Like Evernote, you can cross tag, so I can have one article with the following tags: Travel, Europe, England, Hotels, travel tips. So, if I can’t remember how I tagged the article, I just remember it is about hotels…. I can just look at the hotel tag to find it. There is also a key word search. After I read the article I can delete it from the Pocket account or I can keep it. If they are going to be helpful in the future I keep them… kind of like an online filing cabinet.  This also has a great app for the Ipad. LOVE IT!


So that is what I am using this semester to keep my life organized and save a little paper. What are you using? Any suggestions of new time-saving apps I should try?



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