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Working on my Workflow: Saying Goodbye to Sticky Notes, part 1.

I have a self-imposed ban on purchasing Post-it Notes. Whenever I go into an office supply store, I am immediately drawn to the brightly colored, multi-shaped pieces of paper on which I write anything and everything. At work, sticky notes line my desk with reminders, tasks, names of students to e-mail, shopping lists, or notes to my colleagues. The only problem (other than the dent in my wallet) is that I can rarely find the sticky note I need when I need it. While sticky notes are great for text annotation and class chalk-talks, I have come to understand that they are simply not a viable organizational tool for me.

This week, I have been reflecting on my workflow and exploring the various technologies that can support me in my organizational and productivity efforts. My current system (born from my love of physical sticky notes) has been to use the Sticky Notes app on my laptop. The program remains open in my dock, and I can add color-coded notes for anything I need. This works well for me as I can take information from my e-mail, casual conversations with colleagues, notes from administration, and even assignments for my MAET program and organize them on one screen. A lover of the to-do list, I can also delete items as they are completed, offering me the sense of accomplishment created by an empty screen. My digital sticky note method has served me well so far, but I have come to recognize that it has its limits. Although this piece of technology was an initial solution, it may have turned into a hindrance.

This is my current Sticky Note screen. Green represents school-related information, yellow are drafts of e-mails, blue is information for the MAET program, and purple is personal.
This is my current Sticky Note screen. Green represents school-related information, yellow are drafts of e-mails, blue is information for the MAET program, and purple is personal.

I love that my sticky notes can remain in the background of my computer until I need them, but this system limits me to being productive or consulting my workflow list only when on my laptop. It would be far more beneficial, therefore, for me to use a system that is web-based or can be accessed from multiple devices. Similarly, if I need to share a note with a colleague in my current system, I have to send an e-mail, which adds to that colleague’s “open loops” and does not allow for seamless collaboration (Allen 2001).

References

Allen, D. (2001). Getting things done: The art of stress-free productivity. New York: Penguin.

Cover Photo: “Sticky Notes in Different Colors” by Rameshng licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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