ER&L 2013: E-Resources, E-Realities

“Tools” by Josep Ma. Rosell

Speakers: Jennifer Bazeley (Miami University) & Nancy Beals (Wayne State University)

Despite all the research on what we need/want, but no one is building commercial products that meet all our needs and addresses the impediments of cost and dwindling staff.

Beals says that the ERM is not used for workflow, so they needed other tools, with a priority on project management and Excel proficiency. They use an internal listserv, UKSG Transfer, Trello (project management software), and a blog, to keep track of changes in eresources.

Other tools for professional productivity and collaboration: iPads with Remember the Milk or Evernote, Google spreadsheets (project portfolio management organization-wide), and LibGuides.

Bazeley stepped into the role of organizing eresources information in 2009, with no existing tool or hub, which gave her room to experiment. For documentation, they use PBWiki (good for version tracking, particularly to correct errors) with an embedded departmental Google calender. For communication, they use LibGuides for internal documents, and you can embed RSS, Google Docs, Yahoo Pipes aggregating RSS feeds, Google forms for eresource access issues, links to Google spreadsheets with usage data, etc.. For login information, they use KeePass Password Safe. Rather than claiming in the ILS, they’ve moved to using the claim checker tool from the subscription agent.

Tools covered:

  • Google Calendar
  • Google Docs (includes forms & spreadsheets)
  • PBWiki
  • LibGuides
  • Yahoo Pipes
  • WordPress
  • KeePass Password Safe
  • PDF Creator
  • EBSCOnet

Others listed:

  • Blogger (blog software)
  • Mendeley (ref manager)
  • Vimeo (videos)
  • Jing (screenshot/screencast)
  • GIMP (image editor)
  • MediaWiki (Wiki software)
  • LastPass (password manager)
  • OpenOffice (software suite)
  • PDF Creator (PDF manipulation)
  • Slideshare (presentation manager)
  • Filezilla (ftp software)
  • Zoho Creator (database software)
  • Dropbox (cloud storage)
  • Github (software management)
  • Subscription agent software (SwetsWise, EBSCOnet)
  • Microsoft Excel / Access
  • Course Management Software (Moodle, Sakai, Blackboard)
  • Open Source ERMS: ERMes (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse) & CORAL (University of Notre Dame)

set it and forget it

One of the things I love about my new system of managing email and tasks using flags and due dates is that I never have to remember when something needs to be done. If it’s not in my “due today” list, then I don’t need to worry about it, and instead I can focus on the project at hand.

Today I had nothing scheduled on my calendar (yay!), so I’ve been focusing on my current number one project. In the midst of doing this, I identified a small project tangentially related to this one. Rather than stopping what I was doing to follow up on that (because I might forget it later), I instead took a few moments to create a Task in Outlook that described the project and a rough outline of subtasks that also identified why I’d created the task in the first place. Then, I set the due day for about two weeks from now.

It’s not an urgent project, so I don’t need to do it sooner, but I wanted to make sure that it would still be fresh and relevant, while also giving myself time to wrap up the things I’m currently working on. When that task pops up in my “due today” list, I’ll reassess whether I can start it then or if I need to push it back further. Until then, it’s off of my mind, allowing me to use what mental energy I have on the project I have in front of me.

still tweaking

One thing that I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I am an inherently lazy person.

A few weeks ago I wrote about changing some habits and workflow. Today, as I tweaked my daily tasklist process yet again, I thought I’d post an update/continuation.

One thing that I’ve learned about myself over the years is that I am an inherently lazy person, so I need to set short goals and rewards in order to not let the laziness and procrastination take over. I managed to go five weeks with the 10/15 split method of organizing my day, but when I found myself not doing the things on my schedule, I realized I needed to change it up a bit to keep at it.

Yesterday in my end-of-day wrap-up and planning for today session, I took a sticky note square and began listing attainable goals for the projects I’m currently working on. By attainable goals, I mean things I could do in a 1-2 hour stretch. That’s about how long I can work on any single project without getting burnt-out and distracted, which is why I try to always have several projects in the works at any given time.

Rather than scheduling specific times to work on specific things, I let it flow a little more organically, checking the time only to make sure I wasn’t getting too sluggish. Guess what? It worked. When I’d start to slack off a bit, I’d glance at the list again and I could see the endpoint looming, which encouraged me to delve back into the work.

I thrive and fail in structure, but mostly thrive. Big, long-term projects frequently overwhelm me because I am still learning how to structure my time to work on them, particularly when they have squishy end dates. By setting smaller goals and continuing to trudge towards completion, I will be much happier because as soon as the project is finished, it means I can start working on the next one. And the next project is always more exciting that the one I’m working on right now.

CIL 2010: Productivity Tools

Speaker: Lynda Kellam & Beth Filar-Williams

Check out the presentation wiki for a list of the tools and such. I’ll just note the ones I really like or other commentary I might have. They’ve grouped them into three categories: tasks, notetaking, and scheduling.

The presenters are using Poll Everywhere to get audience input on which category to focus on first, as well as asking for hands for which one. They started with Tasks.

Things is awesome, but Mac/iPhone only. Without a cloud-based interface, it’s not accessible by any other OS. Based on Getting Things Done, the application helps you organize tasks based on contexts.

Todoist is cloud-based task tool. I just started using it myself because I wanted something that could let me add sub-task to tasks.

Remember the Milk is also cloud-based, and like Todoist, it has a mobile interface. Unlike Todoist, it has apps for Blackberry and Android as well as iPhone. Tasks can also be added by SMS. One complaint I had was not being able to see a list of everything due today or overdue in the main web interface (can see it in Gmail), but now I know how to create a saved search that shows overdue tasks (dueBefore:today) and tasks due today (due:today).

The presenters have lots of scheduling tools to share. I’ve heard of only one of them, Schedule Once. The presenters are most excited about jiffle, which pulls your Goolge Calendar availability along with your own selection of available times, and allows the user to request a meeting through the site, but only for the available times. This is really useful for students scheduling personal appointments with instruction librarians. If you’re not using GCal, there is likely a tool that will allow you to sync your calendar with a GCal account.

Cozi integrates calendars, photos, widgets, journals, tasks, and is more geared towards groups or families. It might be more friendly for folks who are not comfortable with disparate, more complicated tools.

They don’t have many notetaking tools listed (Google Docs, Evernote, & wikis). More folks were interested in Evernote. Personally, I just haven’t found a good way to integrate Evernote into my life/work, and I’m not interested in paying for the premium features until I have a reason to use it regularly. I like using the journal feature of Outlook for taking work-related notes, and I rarely need to note things for personal stuff beyond adding them to a task.

tweaking my workflow

Over the past year, I’ve become a Lifehacker fanatic. I read the site regularly, and sometimes I even use it as a reward for finishing some unpleasant task. While I don’t do every lifehack suggested or install every app suggested, I have been making incremental changes in the way I approach things. Here are a few:

  • Earlier this year, I used HabitForge to get into a routine of going to bed by 11pm and getting up at 6am, which I’ve mostly continued to do. I’ve not done so well at the other routine of eating breakfast at home, but that is partially due to not being dilligent about having breakfast items on hand (i.e. I’ve been out of milk for almost a week now and I still haven’t remembered to pick up some when I had the chance).
  • Numerous ideas of how to process/manage email and tasks have led to my current system that is a hybrid of flags and search filters in Outlook, and the daily planning that defines my dayjob workflow.
  • I have a growing collection of DIY gift ideas for next Christmas, should my family decide to go the “make it yourself” gift route again. I’ll be better prepared this time.

I’m certain there are more things I could point out, but all I can remember right now are the relatively new ones. Everything else has either fallen away or has become so integrated that I don’t remember why or when I started doing it.

One more thing: I’m regularly inspired to clean my physical desktop when I see yet another need and cleverly organized featured workspace.