tirsdag, februar 19, 2008

staying organized

A common New Years resolution is getting better organized, and I've been looking for many ways to keep my act together as a teacher and in private. But, in spite of all the calendars on my mobile, on my Macs and my physical organizers like my Teacher's organizer, I still find it hard to stay on top of things. The biggest problem is accessibility and usability.

In a perfect world I would come across an environment where all my jotting-downs of appointments, details, to-do-lists and deadlines could be easy to access and easy to alter if there are changes. It wouldn't matter if I was online/offline or home or at work. Previously, and particularly when traveling and living abroad I've had diaries and a numerous amount of notebooks and scrapbooks for notetaking on the run. Nowadays I try to use my mobile, but it still doesn't excel the notebook and it definitely does not work to its full potential like synching to my Macs, one laptop and a Mac Mini stationary.


So how to go about this? I tend to use iCal on my Macs with varied luck. It's neat and tidy, but it does not sync with my Sony Ericsson K810i (No, I do not have an iPhone...) and neither my Teacher's organizer book. I do use Google Calendar though, and I do import my iCal calendars into Google Calendar for easier access from work. I do sync my iCal calendars with my .Mac-account, but for convenience sake it's easier to use Google's alternative since I prefer using Gmail, Google Docs and Google-owned and compatible Blogger to my Mac-mail.

I crave simplicity. I started playing around with Tumblr, a simple utility to collect feeds from different social networks. In my case I collect Flickr- and Blogger-postings as well as my own videos form You Tube. They call it a lifestream and I like the idea. I like the idea to collect my online activities in one place in a simple way. Could this be done for my organizing needs as well?

I use Netvibes as well, and that's a tremendously simple starting page for online surfing. I know I could embed my calendar there, but it still has proved rather troublesome to have access and be able to change it quickly on the spot. I guess the key to this is mobility, and I got mobility in my hands - my mobile phone (be it an iPhone or a Sony Ericsson...). I came across GooSync - an app to sync my Google Calendar with my mobile, but I haven't made it work satisfactory yet, but it's a start.

Lars is doing his master on human interaction with machines and computers, and he had a project last semester where he had to find the best system for a family to use a planning utility on iPhones (the omnipresent...). Again, Lars argued for simplicity, usability, safety and omnipresent accessibility. A planning system for a family has to be simple or else it wouldn't be used by its members. But perhaps, we as humans would continue being disorganized and messy regardless of the means to help us to improve the clutter of loose papers and half-finished entries into our online and offline calendars. I'm still searching for a better way.

3 kommentarer:

larskflem sa...

these are really interesting thoughts, mort. as a net liberal you test and explore services and tools at hand, and your feedback will be valuable information for the ones designing future systems ;) i'm happy to be mentioned.

when i'm frustrated about services that don't cooperate or speak the same language, i find my self often stepping one step back and have a view of what i really can do with my computer, compared to... well, its only six-seven years ago rss feeds started to emerge on the internet fauna, and now i cannot imagine a day on the net without my netvibes profile :)

i guess this is a somewhat reserved comment on your post, comming from me. but the issues you comment on are to some extent political, in a sense that it is a struggle of standards. standars are fascinating, because they support and enable sharing and communication. but it takes some time and efforts to get there. control of content is one of main drivers in the internet economy, and for the actors, owing a standard can be the way of doing business...

isis sa...

an interesting read. still. personally I feel more and more reluctant to link my webactivites too much together. in fact - I am looking for more anonymity. a place to write where nobody knows who I am. but I keep working against my own wish by connecting my "webworlds" over and over again, only to feel the limits I have given myself by means of who I can expect to be reading/looking/recognizing my activites, - and then ultimately; need for another escape.

mortsan sa...

@larsk: i think you have a valid point of taking a step back to look at the possibilities at hand. perhaps the possibilities are too many and unlimited and thus overwhelming for a person like myself. i still find it too cumbersome to do all this tweaking about to get one silly appointment synced in different calendars in different places. it's like a cheat note, when you've made it you don't need it. i remember what i thought i would forget...

and it is a highly political issue, a battle of standards as you put it. and i guess our job is to sort out what works best and then use it. but i still look for something out-of-the-box easy-to-use-app that works on all platforms. but as i wrote, i need to sort out myself and my organizational potential first...

@isis: when someone on facebook pointed out to me that i could have a feed from this blog i answered the same: i rather have different spheres for my online activities for different purposes. but i don't think there's a conflict between, let's say tumblr's services and keeping worlds apart. i'm experimenting now, and i'll post more on my findings. happy blogging!