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lunes, 24 de febrero de 2014

Time and Activity Management


Before the start of the MA in ELT I was clear on the fact the time management as well as activity management were key to being successful at a distance study program. As a full-time teacher I generally have several diverse activities in each of the weekdays such as class teaching, administrative work, research and lesson planning and also a bit of web design.

Luckily, for the past year or so I have been working at being better at planning my activities and completing what I set out to do. Some weeks I am successful and complete everything and others there are a few things unfinished, but usually of minor importance. This experience proved of much value when I decided to start planning my month long activities and including the MA in there. And so here I explain how I plan my work and study time so I can complete all of my activities and not go crazy in the process.

I have learned to see time management as a two part process. The first involves the broad and anticipated appointments. These are the activities which are generally fixed and can be foreseen for long periods of time such as class schedule, faculty meetings, scheduled office and research time and so on. For me, some of these fixed broad activities tend to change just a little from month to month. As a result I plan for a full month the weekend before it starts.

To plan my broad activities I use my university's account, which is a Google APPs account, or also known as Google Calendar. I've been using Google products for several years so I am very comfortable with Calendar, plus I also have the app installed on my phone. However, any calendar application will generally work just fine. In Google Calendar I program my broad activities and color codes them as well. This way I don't have to read a lot of them. At a glance I can tell which are classes and which are administrative appointments. Also, it provides a very visually appealing way of seeing one's week or month activities.

The second part of the time management process has to do with the specific and most times unexpected activities that appear at a moment's notice. For the specific tasks I have day-to-day I use a web app called To-Doist. With this application I have clear reminders of what is important throughout my day. Things such as get copies for English class, revise and grade essay papers, send e-mail to coordinators and even repetitive things like sign in your faculty attendance for the day are generally part of my things that need to be done amd that are not appropriate as a calendar appointment. I particularly like this application because one can organize tasks into projects, assign dates and times, add tags and notes. Also, it integrates with Gmail so I can create tasks from mails I receive.

Google Calendar and Todoist are the two applications which allow me to get through my day, week and moth's activities and keep my sanity through it all. All of my work is done through a computer so using web applications fits in nicely with me. Still, some people might still like the feel of paper and pen so I would recommend finding a good calendar book which also includes a section for writing down daily tasks. No matter if you are like me and enjoy the digital, or not and prefer the physical version, greatly consider that time management has to do with calendar appointments and daily tasks.

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