Each day, many administrators, with pen and paper in hand, generate a list of tasks or projects that need attention. Some use Post-It notes for each task while others maintain a pad that contains the “living list” that is updated as any item is completed or added. There is a sense of accomplishment with each item that is crossed out or Post-It note thrown away.
When a “To-Do” list isn’t created for the day, or updated, there may be a lack of focus or direction. Even more problematic is leaving the office without the precious list and discovering something that needs to be added to the list.
With the advances in technology and the ever-present smartphone and tablet, there are various methods that can make your “To-Do” list electronic and mobile. The first step is to decide how you would like to organize your list.
1. Days or Dates: Is your list better organized by the day of the week or the date of the month? Do you have the need to add tasks or projects to a specific day?
2. Single Task or Project: What you write on your “To-Do” list may drive the method. Are there categories of what is added such as “Personal” versus “Work”? Is your list a list of “tasks” to complete that are general eclectic things to do? However, you may have a specific project or event that you are planning that may require its own list.
3. Save it or Toss it: Depending on your job, you may need to save your list(s) as proof of the completion. There are different methods to maintain this documentation which can be searched if needed.
FREE List-making Options: Each of these methods can cooperate across devices, which will allow the user to have all information entered on one device sync to the same app/program on all of the user’s devices.
If you prefer to make your list date-specific, there are various ways to use Outlook. Outlook has a built-in “Tasks” feature. In this mode, you can create a project-specific list or simply add to the general “My Tasks” list. On a smartphone, the “Reminders” app that is a standard feature on an iPhone and which is connected to an Outlook account will sync these two together. Adding “Complete Sarah’s Observation” in the reminders on your smartphone will automatically be added to your Outlook into Tasks. In Outlook, you can then add a due date, assign a color code and check it off once completed. Outlook also allows you to create a meeting from a task in your list so that you can invite others to meet regarding that task.
“Notes” on Your Smartphone
The advantage to using the “Notes” app on your smartphone is the ability to dictate rather than type. For example, after a parent brings an issue to your attention on the sidelines of the game, you can dictate a quick note that documents the date, time and details of the conversation. The first line of the Note becomes the title within your Notes app. From Notes, you can email a specific note to yourself or anyone needed, which will then timestamp it for your records. Notes are also searchable, which makes the finding of information quick.
A component of Microsoft Office is OneNote; this is also an app that can be downloaded to your smartphone and tablet and allows you to sync your ‘OneNote’ notebooks across devices. In OneNote, you set up different tabs and, within each tab, you can create a different page of notes. For example, you may want to have a tab for each season and, within each season, have a page for each sport. On each page, you can document specific needs or incidents that occur during that season. A separate ‘tab’ may be your “To-Do” list. OneNote has a “To-Do List” template that you can use to help organize your list.
Moving from the traditional pen and paper list to an electronic list takes patience and practice. Creating the habit of using it is the hardest part. Just as any new technology requires, the user needs to be willing to try it and make it their own.
Jeannette Bruno is in her first year as assistant principal at Marlboro High School in New Jersey after serving as supervisor of extracurricular activities at Colts Neck High School in New Jersey. She is a member of the High School Today Publications Committee.