As I finish my grades, clean out my classroom, and tie up some loose ends, I can’t help being bombarded by constant nagging thoughts and scraps of ideas. As I start to get overwhelmed, I cobble together a system to help me manage my tasks and thoughts. I’m not entirely sure why, but these systems inevitably dissipate over time, and I’m back to square one in a few months. Fortunately, though, I retain my familiarity with some tested tools for the next time.
A few years back, I got swept up in the Get Things Done (GTD) mania started by David Allen. The major thing I took away from my experimentation with that was the need to have a few catch-alls into which I can indiscriminately dump all the ideas I had and from which I can process into higher levels of sorting, archiving, and action.
I’m currently depending a lot on Wunderlist for little to-do’s that come to mind. I like that it has multiple incarnations: a browser-based web application, a desktop app, and smartphone apps. This makes it readily within reach. It’s also pretty basic, conceptually. It’s just a way to make and organize lists. There’s some depth and power behind the concept, though: you can add due dates, checklists, notes, and you can share and collaborate on lists with others. Most of all, though, I just like that it’s very easy to move items up and down within lists, so that I can visually sort and prioritize them.
I’m also using Scrivener to collect all my half-formed ideas of blog drafts. Now that I’ve come back to this blog, I’m now flooded with all these things that I’d like to articulate and reflect about. It’s hard to keep the monkey-mind still and prevent it from spiraling into obsessiveness (and depression) unless I let it throw its feces somewhere, so to speak. One thing that sets Scrivener apart from other word processors is that it encourages writing done in fragments and utilizes the visual metaphor of a cork board of index cards. I’ve tried to use it for other things, like planning chunks of curriculum, with limited success, but collecting and managing blog drafts seem an ideal way to take advantage of its strengths.1