The internet is more than just sneezing pandas...Students have a lot on their plate. Whether it's a heavy work load, playing a sport, leading a club, being involved in the Student Government Association or Residential Life there are always different obligations pulling you in different directions. Not to mention, of course, a social life. I find that one of the most important and vastly underrated leadership skills is the ability to stay organized. Of course everyone has their own methods but, if we're honest, they could probably do with a little refining. I'm going to try and break this page up in to a few different, simple categories. Some of the websites, software programs and tips will cross categories but you'll get the idea.
Email is a huge part of our lives. From various listservs to constant Facebook updates and even -- wait for it -- actual email we have to respond to, there is a constant flow of messages that come to our inbox. It can easily get out of hand to the point where your inbox could contain hundreds, if not thousands of messages. If you've got your own computer here, try using one of the many free or cheap standalone email applications. You can set them up in a way that what you see on your personal computer will be exactly what you see if you need to login to OWA from a public lab. A standalone email application is much easier to use and more customizable than webmail -- especially on Apple computers. Here are a few reasons to give an email app a try.
Create folders to file emails you want to save. And not only create the folders -- but use the folders. Anyone can create a folder, the trick is to make them useful. Start with 10 or 12 folders and see where that gets you. They should be things like "Parents" or "WSPN stuff" and even maybe one called "Other." There's always stuff you want to save from someone or about something that doesn't fit to one of the common categories you've set up. Then it's filing. Clear your inbox out. File the emails you want and delete the ones you don't need. Some like to treat their inbox as a "To Do" list. If it's been filed or deleted, nothing else has to be done. If it's in the inbox, some action is required. Set goals for yourself. Once you get it going, see if you can get your inbox down to less than 20 emails.
In the preferences section of your new email application you can set up rules to automatically file emails from certain people or to a certain list. As an example, let’s say you’re on the RAICES email list. You can set up a rule that automatically files emails to firstname.lastname@example.org in a folder you would call “RAICES List.” It helps automate the organization process.
A lot of us don’t always have our computer with us all the time and often rely on an iPhone or Blackberry. This tip sheet will help you set up your email to sync on your computer and your mobile device. And, if you do need to check email through webmail it will sync up with your other devices.
Email applications have built in search features. It’s much easier to type what you’re looking for in a search box than to scroll through 200 pages of inbox emails, no?
Multiple Email Accounts
Most of us have more than one email account. Using a mail program enables you to keep all of your emails in one place. Your Skidmore and Gmail (or whatever…) all in one place. All of the leading email providers have pages on their sites with instructions on how to set up various programs.
Take a look at Skidmore's tip sheets to learn how to set up a number of email programs on your computer or iPhone.
What happens if you lose the scrap of paper with the note you wrote yourself? What if that phone number rubs off the back of your hand? What if the piece if string you tied around your pointer finger gets too tight and doctors have to chop your whole hand off? To be sure, there are different ways to manage your tasks but there are a lot of websites and applications that can help you keep a better grip on your day/life.
Here are a few applications for your desktop, iPhone and Blackberry that you can try.
Remember The Milk
It's a webapp! No, it's an iPhone app! No, wait, it's for Blackberry. This fantastic cross platform program is available in various formats from your mobile phone to your Gmail account. And it's got a great name.
I've found the following websites have a ton of great information. If you've got any tips or thoughts, shoot me an email. I'll be posting more websites and tips that I come across on my blog.
Everything from cool software to useful tips.
Merlin Mann's often funny and generally insightful guide to staying creative (it matters!) and making the most of your time to do your best work. This link goes to the 43Folders explanation of Getting Things Done.
iTunes (opens in iTunes)
A link to iTunes "Productivity" section of their app store.