Tag Archives: Outlook

Tuesday’s Tools: Calendars & Appointments

One of the best parts of starting a new year is to break out that fresh, new calendar you just picked up for half-off at the store only selling calendars for December. Calendars help us get organized and refreshed with each new calendar year. The clutter that accumulates leading to the end of the year is now forgotten as we move forward.

We should all take advantage of this opportunity to try out an online application or two that will make our schedules easier to maintain in 2012…

Google Calendar is the premier online calendar that lets users share their calendars with the world or just a select few. The sharing options make it possible for one to share a calendar with others in their Google contacts list. For public sharing, there is an active URL and even an embedding option for those who want their calendars to accessible from any site. Users can manage multiple calendars using Google Calendar easily through a seamless color-coding system. I am able to share calendars both for work and family without crossing the two. Additionally, these calendars are accessible from any online device.

For those looking to break free of Google’s grip on their online lives, there are other options available. Yahoo! has an online calendar. Calendar tools from the likes of Keep and Share, Clock Share, and Famundo all feature similar usability without requiring a Google account.

Just looking for some basic calendars to check dates and other timely events? Try TimeAndDate.com. Besides some basic and printable calendars, Time and Date also offer weather, sunset, sunrise, timers, and calculators. Plus, users can customize their own calendars.

Sometimes, we need a way for others to schedule appointments or meetings. As with online calendars, there are several tools that can also make these tasks easier. ClickBook and CheckAppointments are free and easy-to-use online scheduling tools intended for small businesses, but there could be many uses in terms of scheduling meetings with parents or colleagues. Other online scheduling tools include GenBook and Acuity Scheduling.

Of course, maybe the most popular online scheduling tool around these parts is Doodle. With Doodle, users the ability to schedule meetings with a variety of people and schedules in one place. Simply set up a “Doodle poll” to figure out what times and dates are best for your participants. The results will help you schedule a meeting time that will work for all those involved.

Of course, many of us still use our desktop calendar and email tools for all of our scheduling and calendar management. There’s nothing wrong with this practice. It may even be the most efficient use of resources for you. To get the most out of your Microsoft Outlook software, check out the tips from Microsoft’s own site. For iCal users, try iCal World’s list of tips. If you’re still in the hunt for the best desktop calendar tools out there, check out Lifehacker’s top-5 desktop calendar applications.

What tools do you use to maintain your schedules and calendars? How could these tools be used to improve communication between you and students, parents, or colleagues? Are there ways in which teaching students to use these tools valuable to their own time management?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

10 Timesaving Tips

In the fast paced, over scheduled, busy world we live in today stress seems to be at its highest. The teaching profession continues to have more and more pushed into it and teachers are finding it hard to find the balance between teaching, planning, and all the other professional and personal things required of them. Then add eMINTS on top of that, and it could possibly be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” unless those teachers are proficient at managing their time and commitments. To be an effective eMINTS teacher, you have to figure out how to juggle it all. Here are some strategies that may help to reduce your stress and become more productive and resourceful.

  1. Manage Yourself: You really aren’t managing time you are managing yourself. Find out where you are wasting time and make adjustments to your practices. (ie. email, searching for files, etc.)
  2. Goal Setting: Set goals and make rules for yourself to keep you on track. Get some routines established and set some habits. (ie. Goal – keep up with email. Rule – check email at 3 specific times a day and no more.)
  3. Write To-Do List: Start planning your day by creating a to-do list. It can be on paper, on your phone, computer, or on the fridge but not only in your head. Prioritize the list and delegate out things that others could take care of for you. Break large tasks down into smaller, more manageable tasks or steps. Schedule the things that are most important to you and don’t let those items be skipped.
  4. Urgent Items First: A friend once shared that she “eats her frogs first”. The frogs being those things she doesn’t want to do…she puts them at the top of her to-do list (thanks Stephanie). Put the “urgent” items at the top of your to-do list and work your way down.
  5. Put on Your Blinders: Block out distractions when working on high priority projects; turn off your email, put your phone on silent, shut your door (turn off the lights).
  6. Breaks Are Necessary: Take a break when you feel distracted. Stress can get you off track so when you feel it coming on think about taking a 10 minute walk, get up and stretch, or do anything that might re-energize you.
  7. Add NO to Your Vocab: Learn to say “no”. A phrase I learned from an Oprah show years ago that was freeing for me… “I’m sorry….I wish that I could but I just can’t”.
  8. Be Flexible: Practice being flexible and allow time for interruptions and distractions; you never know when they will arise and letting them add to your stress will be counter-productive.
  9. Reflect: At the end of the day, take some time to look over what you have accomplished and how you managed to do all of it. Think about the strategies that worked for you and the ones that didn’t and cut yourself some slack if you didn’t get everything done – just move those things to your next to-do list and give yourself some time to prepare for the next day.
  10. Use Technology Tools: Here are a few technology tools that may help you out (but be ready to drop them if they end up taking you more time).
  • Microsoft Outlook: manage your Email and Blogs (see previous post), create your to-do list with Tasks, create Notes for important things you want to remember, and use the Calendar to manage your time. many places of employment are now using the Microsoft Exchange Servers making your account available not only on your desktop machine. Check with you tech support staff if you aren’t sure. You never know, you could be checking your mail and more on your mobile device.
  • Microsoft OneNote: Create a virtual notebook to keep tabs on your life. You can create lists, make drawings, include pictures, insert screen clippings, insert sound and so much more.
  • Google: Email, Tasks (in Gmail), Calendar, Reader - Think Outlook but online; accessible from any computer connected to the Internet. Google offers tons of tools that you may find helpful – you can see them all at their products page. Sign up for a Google/Gmail Account to get started. And “There’s an App for that” ;)
  • Sticky Notes or Stickies – Create virtual sticky notes on your desktop (think Post Its for your computer). They can be found in the Accessories folder on a Windows machine and in the Applications folder on a Mac.
  • Evernote: they say “Capture Anything, Access Anywhere, Find Things Fast”. You can even download it to your Windows computer. And “There’s an App for that” ;)
  • Spaaze: “An infinite virtual cork board, is a new visual way to organize pieces of information.” Add bookmarks, labels, notes, YouTube Videos, images, and files. You can now publish your board and even collaborate with others. (currently in beta)

What tips, strategies, suggestions or tools do you have that others might benefit from knowing about? Feel free to share them in a comment.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center and writes for her own blog, Higgins Help.

Clock Image – “Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time.” Flickr- monkeyc.net. Web. 9 Dec 2010. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/monkeyc/112342184/>.