I use MacOS's Calendar as my main schedule and task prioritization space. I will plan to go more detailed into some of the ways I manipulate it to suit my personal organizational needs, but in this post I'll share mostly some guiding principals that I rely on.
First, I have a window of each week day that is only to be used for work purposes (i.e. my main job). Right now I have that set for 7AM - 3PM. The early start has to do with working collaboratively with my colleagues in Poland who are 6 hours ahead. There are certainly times when things get scheduled outside this window(for example, when collaborating or meeting with colleagues in NY or in CA), OR when personal matters need to be handled within that window (for example, a school conference). When those situations occur I shift things around so that the day feels balanced.
I use a second calendar for non-main work things (personal appointment and side-hustle related things -like writing a book). That calendar has a different color so it is easily visually identified.
And then I have a third calendar which is my wife's calendar that has been shared with me. This way I am aware of things that are going on and when necessary, I can also add things to it. On those occasions when a personal or family appointment needs to take place within the primary work window, I always try to create an event on my work calendar that simply says 'Unavailable' so that my colleagues who might be looking to schedule something based on my availability have a more complete set of information. Sometimes, if I have created a free block of time (or a meeting gets canceled) I will move some personal tasks into the main part of the day, but still keep myself available for interruptions.
In the end, my calendar for this current week (in week view) looks like this as of today (Thursday Jan 31). Stay tuned for more.
One helpful way to identify the problem points of any experience is to create a journey map (sometimes called an empathy map). The x-axis is time, the y-axis is 'delight' or simply emotional state. It can be helpful to break the total experience into just 5-6 key moments. When a "low" point is identified, a new journey map should be made to focus on 5-6 key moments in that originally single point. By mining down, you can get clarity and common understanding on what is negatively impacting a larger experience. Then you can start ideating on ways to address it.
In my classroom, there are 4 large displays which make it easy to see what is being projected from any vantage point. Last night we did design activity using the card game Disruptus. Students were given a handout and some random Disruptus cards to do a quick innovation exercise. They sketched their idea on paper and then posted it on a wall. Students had the opportunity for a 'gallery walk' and to see the work of their classmates. When my co-instructors and I wanted to do a deep dive into a few, I photographed them in Explain Everything and add them to the canvas, using the Zoom and Laser Pointer tools to call attention to the different examples we were highlighting.
I've been following an interesting discussion taking place on Google Group whose members are technology leaders at regional independent schools. The conversations in this discussion are about the merits and challenges of multi-factor authentication (MFA) in a school environment (i.e. for students and/or teachers) and different ways to approach it when trying to balance smooth user experience with responsible security practices. One of the things that came up was password strength, and one member posted a link to the comic below.
I then started to check out other discussions on web forums about the broader perspectives on this password theory, and several posts pointed to various research on this topic. There is no conclusive evidence (yet?) or at least any certainty within the research that I looked at. What I did find find interesting is that there is a free, open source tool, for generating 4-word pass-phrases, inspired by the very comic above: correcthorsebatterystaple.net.
One of the key takeaways from last week’s course is that in order introduce new leadership routines or practices, you first must “get your house in order,” specifically with how your day - and each hour within - is managed. There is no single correct procedure for this because people have different preferences, different contexts, and so on. Regardless of those differences, there is at least one thing in common: it is better to be in control of your schedule as opposed to other people’s schedules controlling you. In a leadership position, there are always moments you have to react - or stop what you are doing - or get interrupted. I believe that effective leaders organize themselves so that their calendar - or their system - allows for such interruptions without derailing the entire flow. Here is a break down of my system.
First, here are the platforms and tools that are usually lead to something getting onto my schedule:
My company uses Google Apps, whose system of labels allows a message to be put into more than one category. This was not possible previously (at least to my knowledge) without making a duplicate so that you can put the same message in multiple folders. While Gmail’s web client honors the label view, MacOs Mail displays the labels as folders, and from this client you cannot add a message to multiple folders (at least I don’t know how). Anyways, I still like using this client because it is its own window, with its own badge notifications on my taskbar, and its own sound notification for new messages.
For any message that is in or comes into my Inbox, I have 4 possible moves after looking over it
This 30 minute thing is important . Basically - it might only take me 10 minutes to address it quickly - but I don’t want to take those 10 minutes right now (I’d rather go through and process whatever is left in my inbox). In that 30 minute block later today, or the next day, or next week - I’ll have created 20 minutes of unstructured time. I’ll get into how to use and combine unstructured time next week (or whenever I next write about this).
I read what my oft-collaborator, Stephen J. Valentine who blogs at Refreshing Wednesday, wrote today about convergence. He suggested an exercise which I put into practice. Instead of thinking of my organization, I thought about communication and productivity platforms used in one of my graduate school courses. Over the years my co-teacher and I have tried a bunch of different things. Some have stuck around, others have not. My listing certain ones as being on 'life support' does not mean I do not believe in their value, it simply means that today (January 2019) it takes significant energy in order to help them be valuable within this particular context.
As part of our final wrap-up for a week long course, we facilitate a reflection-oriented discussion to help students synthesize notably the week's learnings but also how those learnings will be applied in each one of their contexts. With two instructors, we have found that this works well when my colleague drives the discussion while I document it real-time on a whiteboard that is visible to all of the students. What is in the artifact below makes the most sense to those students who were in the class - a quick visual reminder of things that were shared.
I had the chance to visit Lyft's San Francisco offices last week and I was delighted to hear how their employees' talked about the organization's mission, which I was not aware of. I had assumed their mission as to give people a way to earn extra money using their own vehicle. But Lyft's mission is bigger than that - it is to reduce the number of cars necessary for people to be productive workers and citizens while increasing the amount of open, walkable spaces in our cities and towns.