This week I reviewed and tried out different technologies to help organize my life as a teacher-leader, educator, and mom. To follow the ideas of the “Getting Things Done” methodology (Allen). Rather than adding another new tool to my plate, I decided to share the tweaks I made to one process tool I have in my toolbox that I am working on utilizing better – Google Apps for Education and more specifically Gmail.
Although I have used Gmail in the past, I didn’t realize how much I still needed to learn. Google really has developed intuitive ways to use email as a personal office – file cabinet included! Rather than just being a simple messaging system, it has encompassed all the tools I use and need for my life and job. Normally I would hesitate towards putting all of my eggs in one basket, such as I feel like I do sometimes with Google. However, one big point in its favor is that all of the apps I use are free, continue to evolve, and support my teaching, learning AND my life. There are not a lot of systems that can fulfill all of these functions so well. Full disclaimer: I have also been completing my Google tests for becoming a Google Certified Educator – 2 tests down, still Gmail to go! So testing out this tool this week serves two purposes: I can share the tips and tricks I am using and I can also help prepare for my next Google Apps exam.
The first small but really important thing I learned about Gmail was the ability to archive messages. I’m sure you have probably skipped over this feature in Gmail hundreds of times, but discovering it literally changed my whole way of processing correspondence and the work I do. Instead of deleting emails, I simply archive them and clear them out of my inbox. That cut down SIGNIFICANTLY on the amount of emails I see and freed me up to assign the rest to Tasks.
The Task Manager is another cool feature I like to use on Gmail. I also love the ability to sync emails and dates with the Task Manager. My next step tonight was to download a Task App – called TaskFree http://goo.gl/0s1lNR and I’m hoping to take my Gmail organizing to the next level with it. I’m not tied to a desk, so I hope to use it on the go to keep my priorities with my various teacher leadership roles.
I will be blogging regularly about what I do and use with Google Apps, so I hope you will stick around to see what I have to say! Feel free to comment with ways you use Gmail in the comment section.