12 Sep 2014, 10:34

Organizational Tools

I’ve spent the last few weeks of pre-move limbo creating an organizational framework that I’m really, really proud of.

disclaimer: none of this is tested yet with an actual workload. I’ll update when I actually have classes, homework, etc.

The central organizational tool in my new system is a Google Calendar. It lists all of the events in my life, whether that’s a lecture, a meeting, or a party. Now, your standard calendar isn’t exactly great as a to-do list with due dates. That’s where the next tool comes in: Trello. Trello is incredible. It’s super versatile: It can be as complicated or as simple and easy-to-use as you want it to be. I have Trello boards for all of the kinds of stuff in my life. I have one for all the movies and books I hear about, I have one for all of the writing projects I’m working on, I have one for the homework on my plate right now (empty for a couple more weeks). But I should explain exactly what Trello is.

Simply put, it’s a way to organize stuff. Every board has lists, which have cards, which can have anything from a due date to a checklist to a file attachment. It’s really easy to move cards from list to list: Whenever I watch a movie that’s on the to-watch list I move it to the three, four, or five star list. This is a totally pointless exercise but it shows that Trello is just fun to use, and it makes me want to use it for as many things as possible.

So what I’m imagining is this scenario:

I’m sitting in class and the professor lets me know about an upcoming assignment. I pull up Trello on my phone or web browser and immediately add a card to that class’s list on the homework board and add the due date. When I finish that assignment, I move the card over to the done list, because it’s done, you know.

Now here comes the real coolness. Over in the menu, there’re these things called Power-Ups. The calendar Power-Up is basically the best thing ever. What this does is it makes a calendar populated with the due dates of all of your cards. It also generates a webcal URL for this calendar. So what I’ve done is to point the calendar app on my phone and laptop to the Trello calendar of my homework board. This means in addition to seeing all of my obligations on the calendar, I see everything’s due dates.

So now I can see all of my free time in the week, provided of course that I’ve diligently mapped my schedule onto the calendar. The next step is to block out exactly what part of that time is going to be spent on which work, which I also do in the calendar. I can do this with full knowledge of all of my responsibilities and due dates, so I don’t overcommit myself. I expect that eventually I’ll have a good idea of how long everything takes, and I’ll be able to manage my time well enough to get my 8-hour average of sleep every night.

We’ll see how this goes.