Thursday, October 09, 2008

Great Tool!

My director was encouraging me to make sure I managed my time well, academic work at the graduate level is highly self-directed. The reason it takes folks so long to complete is because they do not manage their time well. Life is always busy, the academic work usually gets relegated to the bottom of the pile. I'm completely guilty of this, and it has been a great source of frustration for me. So I sat down with my loving wife and we hammered out a schedule which averages me 32 hours/week for school. It also helps me know when I have time for cleaning, making meals, loving on my family, pastoring Freedom, etc.

Having a schedule is all fine and good, but I need a way to keep on target, see what items are left to complete, and be able to estimate when I can complete tasks (within my 32 hour framework). Having done a bit of project management I could make this way more complicated than it needs to be, but rather than that I decided to find a tool that will let me track my time on specific tasks. As a student my preference would be for something free! I found it in a programme called ToDoList.

ToDoList lets you organize and time your activities. You can set due dates to manage your time and prioritize your items. At least that is how I am using it. If you get it spend some time figuring out the interface and then make your list, it will be time worth spending (there are manuals but manuals are for when you really screw things up, right?) Here is what I do:

  • Divided my reading course into texts I need to read, grouped by papers I need to write. More granularity means that I can track how long I spent on each task.
  • I then ordered them, set the priorities and checked off the books I have already read. This tells me how much of the project (%) is complete. Progress is always encouraging.
  • I am very interested in what types of reading are more time intensive. This will really help me in the future when choosing books to prepare for courses - I can make sure the more time intensive ones get read early. This is easy to do, click on task and then the little clock icon - when you stop click the icon again, the clock can be started and restarted as much as is needed.

Give it a try.


Ren said...

Hey, this looks like something I would use! I've downloaded the beta version and will start fiddling with it soon. Thanks for the info!
On a side note, make sure you leave some time to shmooze your dealers of over at Timothys.

Also, I checked out the site I linked on my page, and I couldn't find any scantily clad ladies, alas. But I did use the feedback form to ask them if the start bar image was intentional or not. Hopefully they'll email me back.


One of Freedom said...

I arranged a few coffee shop meetings next week.

The ToDoList is a true tool for the AR at heart. ;-)