Yesterday at our school corporation retreat, Justin Maust of Leader Legacy spoke to us about how to develop a winning team. In the course of his entertaining and enlightening seminar, he discussed his approach to time management, a binder in which he plans out each day to the minute on the left hand side of the page, and then on the right hand side notes what actually happens. The world keeps spinning at what seems to be a more rapid pace as our lives become more connected, information becomces accessible at all times, and the distractions that keep us from work more prevalent. Due to this, many applications have sprung up in the past few years to help us digitally remain on task. Two of my favorites have become Wunderlist and 30/30.
Wunderlist is a digital planning tool that harkens back to the old Franklin/Covey Day Planner, which by the way I often wonder way I have not seen a digital version of those books that were so prevalent in the 90s and early 2000s. It allows you to input tasks into a list tasks, break long term projects in to smaller tasks, set due dates with email reminders, and have the satisfactory feeling of crossing items off your list. It does not, at this time, allow you to schedule events or schedule to plan your day-as the Day Planner did. It does however have the major plus of moving across digital access providers. The app will sync between your mobile device, tablet, and computer, so no matter what device you are using to look at it, the information is up to date and accurate. I have found Wunderlist to be a great way to organize the daily tasks that I need to complete, keep me on track with long range planning-although I wish the reminder system was more seemless and thus effective. It often seems as if the reminders never come, even when set. The greatest joy though comes from being able to digitally cross items off the list.
30/30 is an entirely different productivity app. It combines a task timer with your task list and operates under the principal that you need to switch up your tasks throughout the day to keep your mind fresh and focused. With this in mind, the creators initially suggested that you utilize 30 minute increments as the max time, and switch between tasks on that conitnuum, allowing yourself to go back to a task multiple times a day, until completed. New versions of the software have removed the language about splitting tasks into 30 minute increments, and instead use a 50 minutes of work with a 10 minute break as to how to divide up the hour.
This is the tool that I have come to rely on when I want to be my most focuses and productive. The basic idea works and gets you into a rhythm of work. We too often allow the minor distractions of life, and they are many, to knock us off our pace and this can help you to stay focused on the task(s) at hand. The biggest key is staying focused on that task, knowing that later in the day you will have time for those distractions that creep in. So in my use of 30/30 I schedule in those distractions-though not at a 30 minute block. I have time for email, eating, reading for fun, checking twitter, etc... Knowing that I will have time to do those activities in a reasonable amount of time helps me focus on what needs to be done in the moment. It even will block sounds from outside the app, so email and other alerts don't sound to distract you from the task at hand while you wait for the timer to buzz. The only negative, from an operations point, is that it will not sync across devices.
Additionally, I believe that an app like 30/30 can be a great tool for educators to introduce students to, tell them how they are using it to manage distractions and tasks they are working on, and then allow them to utilize it for that purpose in class. In many ways it gamifys being focused and it is my hope that this would help students to be less distracted.
The only negative to 30/30 is being slightly OCD I get locked in to switching when the timer goes off, and it sometimes delays finishing a thought while I write. It can also keep me from good distractions while reading-like connecting multiple articles and thoughts and then writing about them which happened to me this past Sunday and lead to me writing this review instead of my thoughts on two books I was reading and how they connected to a news article I read. In my focus to stay on my reading tasks, I lost the thoughts that would have begun that post for me. Sometimes even in focusing, being too rigid can cause loss as well.