The Time-Poor Academic Part 1: a seasonal story

It’s a bit of a catch-cry right now, this ‘time-poor’ thing. I’m pondering over my own state of being right now. Yes, it’s the end of the academic year in Australia, with all the attendant closures to projects: courses, exams, report-writing. Add to that the inevitable start-ups for 2008 looming on the horizon, and you can start to feel overwhelmed. Lots to do, so little time! Oh my paws and whiskers! If I am not organised, the uneasy early panic feelings get worse and it seems as though I have no time at all.

My first response is to get back into GTD land. I usually begin by dusting off and updating the file system which has gone down in the last month or so of activity; begin checking my supply of manila folders, labels, and making lists. Add to these tasks, a deep pondering of my calendar. I don’t know why I love calendar-grazing; it’s been a habit of mine for years. Maybe trying to control what I sense can be an out of control spiralling of my time. As if paper control can wrestle me away from the curiosity that leads me down new lanes and byways and into procrastination land. But I work at it.

So, here I am in productivity rev-up mode again. I’m using the tried and true for me Omni Outliner Pro with the Kinkless GTD Apple scripts add-on. Truly a terrific organising combo. I’ve tried others, but this one beats it hands down for me. Can’t wait for Omni Focus which I believe is on the way.

I make daily notes in a Moleskine Pocket Notebook. I love the size and feel of this little book; it goes everywhere with me. Key appointments and to-dos made on the fly go in here and get put into either my iCal or GMail calendar when I’m back at a computer.

I’m syncing my iCal and GMail calendars with Spanning Sync so I can keep them all talking to each other nicely. If I am really feeling anxious about being too far away from my calendar, I can access it with my Nokia N95 mobile phone or even my iPod, all using Spanning Sync. If I can’t sync contacts and events and to dos across several computers my system crashes and I spiral into self-castigation mode. That’s where the notebook wins.

The rest is really up to me. How I work out how much time and the best time to spend at processing what’s on the lists will be the subject of another post.


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