Productivity Tools: What Do You Use?

My goal as a school leader this year is to become more organized. One of my colleagues was surprised when I shared this goal, mentioning that I was an “organizational freak”. While I appreciated her compliment, I think I have been organized enough to make sure most tasks don’t go by the wayside. However, I wasn’t making enough time during the school day for professional reading, classroom visits and community connections. These activities would get pushed back into my personal life, which takes time away from family and friends.

I have been reading The Together Leader by Maia Heyck-Merlin for an upcoming Middleweb book review. So far the resource has been very helpful. I am at the point in which I need to develop a “later list”. This is where a school leader would keep track of long term projects and tasks that do not need to be taken care of right away and/or have many steps to address in order to complete them.

This year, I have decided to keep all things school within Google. Prior to this year I used a blend of different digital tools to be as productive as possible. The problem with that was these tools didn’t “talk” to each other. I would keep some things in Evernote, some in Google, and everything else on my desktop or in our district server. Having one overacrching software to reference has been really helpful in decluttering my professional life and keeping it separate to a degree from my personal endeavors.

The challenge is that Google, to my knowledge, does not have a robust productivity tool in its bank of apps and extensions. There is Google Keep, but it seems to be a lesser version of Evernote, which I love for my writing and research life (and for me, Microsoft OneNote is in the same camp as Google Keep). To note: I am an avid user of Apple products – I have a MacBook Air, iPhone and iPad. I have explored what the App Store has to offer. Things and Omnifocus have jumped out as possibilities. But do they sync with Google Calendar, which I rely on for my day-to-day tasks? Wunderlist has also been considered. I am not a fan of subscription-based apps but I would make an exception if Wunderlist is excellent.

So that leads to the purpose of my post: what application(s) have you found to:

  • be excellent in keeping track of projects and later lists,
  • “talk” with Google Calendar, and
  • offer an application for Mac, iPhone and iPad?

If you are not aware of a tool in which I describe and desire, I highly recommend you create one. I will be the first person to write a glowing review in the App Store. If you do know of such a tool, please share in the comments.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is a 17-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th grade teacher. After seven years of teaching, he served as a dean of students, assistant principal and athletic director before becoming an elementary principal in Wisconsin Rapids. Matt is now an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

8 thoughts on “Productivity Tools: What Do You Use?”

  1. Morning Matt – have you tried Trello? It integrates into Google calendar and has apps for the iOS environment. It’s particularly good for team-based tasks. The free version pretty much does everything I need it to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m an avid user of Omnifocus. If you follow GTD for your productivity, it is supposed to be one of the best. I also like that is only a one time purchase vs a subscription model. I’m not sure if it syncs with google calendar. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Matt!

    I am looking around to see how people stay productive for my own website, and I ended up here! I am a student in University, and despite our age/profession differences, I find myself having the same problem myself, or with the people I work with. Often, I find those big tools from Google or Microsoft too complex for writing some quick note or commenting for a coworker. I just wanted a little virtual desk to place my memos on it, so, a friend and I tried to create a website just for that!

    May I recommend to you TmDesk on tmdesk.com? We originally were making a discussion board for teams with a virtual desk, but I find myself using one of my own, with all my tasks, assignments, dreams, goals and diary on a desk. It is still in alpha version, so if you are interested, please check it out! Any feedback is welcome!

    Liked by 6 people

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