Have you ever tried to make things too damn complicated or be too organized and it takes you just about five times as long to get something done. That is the story of my of my school year this year. I have attempted to use Google’s & Apple’s Productivity applications and then I tried to use the Entourage version of MacOffice 2008 unsuccessfully, heck I even went back to the old Stenopad TODO list (old reliable).
All these things really made me stop and look/think this morning about how I have my work organized and how I want to keep track of things – so that I don’t fall into that perilous pit of “loosing track”.
This afternoon, I decided to see how much I can simplify my work, but do it with resources I already have available or for FREE!!!! without loosing track of my work.I finally figured out that the biggest problems that I had with the synch between gMail, Apple Mail or even Entourage was I was over-using Rules/Categories creating a bizzilion copies of each “conversation” or “email” going into a multitude of different folders/categories. I have over 26,000 conversations in gMail (not that many compared to many of you – I know), but just enough to be a pain in the butt.

I believe that I was trying to be too organized with my mail, when in fact I needed less Folders/Categories and needed to use Search in both Mail applications better when I needed to find an old email. Now I just have to figure out how to get rid of the four static inboxes in Apple Mail and only use the IMAP gMail (or at least hide them), no luck so far. So I have whittled them down quite a bit.

I need/want to be able to easily synch between Google and Apple (Mail, Contacts, and Calendar) where I use Google Apps so much at work/home and synch to my iPhone (no email on iPhone – which really works for me-a different post). At the same time, I need a desktop version of the applications or something that I can upload from later, so that if there is no internet (which happens from time to time), I can still work on things.
Spanning Synch lets me do that for Contacts/Calendars without any problem.Apple Mail/gMail do a good job of talking most of the time (except Apple Mail doesn’t synch the Sent Mailbox, but oh well it works).

OmniFocus – I had thought about Evernote, but when I tried before to use it as a task management system, it got rather confusing for me and I didn’t see that it had any new task management features. There are a bunch of online versions of task/project management applications that would work great, but if there is no Internet – they are not much good. I finally remembered that when I rebooted my Laptop last summer I never reinstalled OmniFocus and had forgotten that I own a license for it. When I was using it a lot last year I was attempting to do too much with it and got overwhelmed by too much data.
OmniFocus is a very powerful organizational system with a LOT of capability (more than I want to use as a teacher), but there is nothing saying that I have to use everything it can do and I can KISS this too. It integrates with Apple Mail or other mail clients and I can easily add tasks that I get via email, which is a great feature, because we do get so much our work that way today. So I have setup OmniFocus as a much more streamlined task management system than how I previously used it.
These changes may not sound like a lot to some out there, but I believe that they will be a very powerful. Combined they should be a lot more simplified way of keeping track of my work and things in my personal life that just seem to get lost. I do like to be organized – some of my friends make fun of me and tell me I am a bit anal about it. But being a Special Educator with so many different things going on at the same time, I strongly believe it is too stressful for me to be unorganized. That was how I was feeling until this afternoon, I feel a lot more confident now than I did this morning.
The reality is that when you are organized you can get more work done and don’t loose track of things and have to rush at the last minute to get something that you forgot about done.
Let’s see how this system works for me and here is to KISS management. Now that I know what I have to get done, it’s about time to actually get some of that work done. IEPs anyone.