I have a confession to make. I am an A-Type personality trapped in the body of a creative person. I love everything in my classroom labeled, numbered, ordered, and clean. For me, the organization is two-fold. Organizing and cleaning up physical space actually gives me calm (my boyfriend wants me to work on “my calm” at his place…). Organizing and neatness also leaves me the space and room to think without encumbrance or distraction.
Not everyone is as anal-retentive as I am (I did have a colleague who had to label empty boxes: “empty boxes.” I miss you Dawn!), but everyone needs some level of planning and organization to help them reach for their dreams. And really, why pay for such tools if you can use programs you already have or download some for free!? Today’s posting is all about a few free or already purchased resources I have.
I LOVE brainstorming. Despite my (generally) physically ordered environment, I think in a very scattered manner. Ideas jump out at me from all sorts of odd tangents and in the middle of all sorts of activities (exercise, in the middle of a teaching lecture, while I am sleeping…). FreeMind allows me to list out allll of those ideas visually and relate them in a map (see screen shot above). It allows me to see the interconnectedness of many of my tangential thoughts and it’s easier for me to reflect on what is truly useful and what I should discard. I find it especially helpful when I am writing a tough article, or right now I have started to use it for the development of my first e-book. Once I have most of the concept laid out through FreeMind, I then move to my handy dandy Word and open up a Notebook style page.
The Notebook version of a document has tabs; I use each tab for a different chapter or subsection of my writing. It leaves a smaller amount of material directly infront of me, which I find less overwhelming. I also have greater focus with less information to read. I use every major branch from my FreeMind map as tab titles for the notebook. It’s easy to access any page I want to work on; I jump around within the project if I have another idea or get frustrated with one paragraph and I need to take a break.
I find it easy to Google search (yes teachers do this) free calendars and you can find a huge medley of offerings that can be downloaded. There are formats friendly to both excel and word. I selected one and changed it to fit my work week, which is Sunday to Thursday. I printed this out and now use it for my school-year planning. Click here to see the calendars I work with! (Tip: when you access this page, check the bottom right side for additional calendar options.) Some of these calendars would be easy enough to work in and save on your computer if you are paper-conscious.
The other calendar I use and LOVE is my iCalendar on my MacBook Pro. I also have an iPhone and I can sync both up easily. It lets me color categorize tasks and list appointments and projects by the day, week, and month. It’s great to jump between all of those time frames to help see the bigger (or smaller) picture! Last year I decided to cast away my paper agenda for my iPhone and I couldn’t be happier. I thought I would miss it, but I can tell you I don’t miss having my purse full of an agenda, iPod, Phone, car keys, etc. Now its just an iPhone and my car keys (well, maybe a few other odds and ends…). While it was expensive to purchase, in the long run I am saving myself organizational stress and I do believe this kind of simplifying can enhance your life. Efficiency leaves more time for play! 🙂 If Apple does not tickle your fancy, PCs have similar applications that you can use with your phone.
I keep a journal. ALL of the time. I have a smaller one for my purse and a larger one for home when I am bumming about. I highly recommend doing this. How many ideas have you lost because you didn’t have a space to write it down? Or you wrote it on a napkin that you then forgot at the restaurant??
“Efficiency leaves more time for play.” 🙂
Artwork by Carrie Brummer, Copyright 2010
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Think about what you can do to better organize your goals. Do you need a timetable? Do you need to organize while you are brainstorming? Determine your needs and find the tools (preferably free!) to help you meet them.
Seeking free resources? SourceForge is a great website that offers ratings and lists the latest downloads.