Task management tools: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
by Amanda Louise Miller, militant multitasker
I don't know about you, but for me, it's been "one of those weeks." You know, the kind of week where you keep climbing uphill-- andworking REALLY HARD at it, too--but never get anything actually accomplished.
And it's not just me - lots of my classmates and friends all seem to have at least a mild case right now of what I'm calling "The Octobers": a low-level of general stress and grouchiness, stemming from lots of projects and goals to complete, and the fact that we're still a LONG way from holiday vacation. (Oy.)
I think it's safe to say that all artists, or really anyone who has to juggle work, family, hobbies, art, relationships, obligations, and all of the other mutlifaceted nonsense that goes into being a "productive member of society" get a case of The Octobers now and then.
So, how does one combat this dreaded (if inevitable) "man-in-the-chair"ness? Well, there are lots of ways - some good and some, not so good.
The not-so-good ways are the most fun, of course.
And then there's always my tried and true method: procrastination via Facebook and/or Netflix.
But all joking (and adorable David Tenant gifs) aside, I did find a few non-destructive tools to conquer my mountainous mass of "todo's" --- and my case of The Octobers.
First are the tips and techniques that fall into the "take care of yourself first, so you can take care of everything/everyone else" category:
- Get enough sleep. (I am learning the hard way this semester that I am officially too old to pull an all-nighter. Staying up into the wee hours to finish a project is just not worth it if I'm going to be a zombie for the next two days. Whether it's going to bed at a reasonable hour, letting yourself sleep in, or sneaking power naps later in the day, sleep deprivation is a major trigger of The Octobers.)
- Exercise. (Much like sleep, exercise is something that can easily fall by the wayside when you're overworked or overcommitted. But a good workout can clear up a foggy October-brain more quickly than even a cup of my beloved coffee. Plus, if you exercise outside, like I do, it helps with my next point.)
- Make friends with the sunshine. (Spend your lunch hour outdoors, go for a walk in the morning or evening, or at the very least, sit yourself by a window to work.)
- Connect with people --and/or animals. (Call your mom, your boyfriend, or your best friend. Get a hug. Get a pedicure. Walk a dog. Engage in a battle of wits with your deviant chinchilla.)
Last, but not least, use technology to help get yourself organized. I decided this week that I needed a todo-list app that I could use to keep tabs on my many, diverse projects. There are many apps in the "todo list" market, but I had very specific requirements to meet. My ideal organization app would:
- instantly sync lists on my iPhone, iPad, and computer
- divide my tasks into lists AND sublists
- send me reminders and allow me to set up recurring tasks, and
- show the tasks I've completed at the end of the day (preferably with a satisfying line drawn through them).
I'm happy to say that, after a lot of trial and error, I've found an app that does all of that: "Priorities."
For $2.99, you can download Priorities onto all your devices and log into and edit your list online. I've only been using the app for a few days, but it's already helped turn my week from this...
....to this. :)
AMANDA LOUISE MILLER
is a writer, composer, performer, educator, and technology specialist currently getting her Master's in Music Composition at Oklahoma City University and working as a faculty trainer for Bellevue University.
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