Very little of my PIM has come about by conscious effort. Most of it has evolved out of necessity, laziness, or some sort of management Darwinism. However, my task management or “to-do” list part of my PIM was forced upon me from an outside source and I am very much in debt to it.
My middle school introduced me to the wonderful world of school planners (also know as agendas, weekly planners, date books etc). My school gave each student a planner and we were instructed to write all of our assignments for each class in them. We had no choice in the issue. We had to have the planner with us at all times and if some poor soul forgot (or the horror LOST) his or her planner there were serious consequences (what my school called a penalty which could lead to an after school detention). Being the good little student and organizer I was I used my planner as instructed. It was also around this time that I learned that I remember material better after I physically write it down (which has made me a ridiculous note taker). I remember at the end of the day being able to recite homework class by class to my classmates with lockers near me so that we all knew which books to take home with us.
Well over a decade later I am still a huge believer in my little planner. I write all my school tasks in it every week. I plan my whole week out so that I do not let school work to pile up since as an online student I do not have any class times to force me into doing homework on a certain day. My planner also reminds me of doctor appointments, school events, due dates for long term assignments, group meetings etc (though I have begun to also put these into my phone calendar as extra insurance).
However, now I always feel a little ashamed of my little planner. I feel like when I tote around a smartphone and/or an iPad all the time that I should be taking advantage of all of those awesome task management apps out there. I would have less fragmentation of my information and one less thing to carry.
Evernote is a very functional program that can be used and synced between so many devices (my iPad, my Windows phone, my browser on my laptop), but it is really more of a note taking and remembering program than a task manager. I can make checklists but I did not find an easy way to add in the calendar element that my planner has. Also a lot of time the syncing between my devices was not perfect and I’d have to recheck items that I had already completed. So after two weeks I abandoned Evernote and went back to my planner.
This past week I picked up Taskify Lite in the Apple App Store for my iPad. I do a lot of school reading on my iPad so it is usually at hand. Sadly I hit the “task limit” for the free version before I could make a full judgement of the app. It is easier to assign due dates, but since I’m in an online program my due dates are a bit more flexible, and I did not want to make the “due date” the day I planned to complete the reading or discussion posts because I did not want to deal with the huge “this item is overdue” alerts (since putting something off a day is not a big deal).
So I still have not found a replacement for my long suffering planner. I believe want a need is a marriage of a task management and a calendar/appointment app. Really I just want my planner in digital form. I would also like to be able to set reminders on certain items and maybe a feature so that I check off or strike through completed tasks but still see them.
Readers, do you have any suggestions for a program that can help keep my academic life in order? One of the readings this week for my PIM class covers alternatives to Evernote and I will spend a chunk of time looking into that. I will also continue looking through the app stores of both Apple and Microsoft. I will keep you all updated on my progress in finding the perfect task manager.