Getting used to G+

Google Plus mobile page

I’ve been on Google Plus since whenever Alan sent me an invite and we were looking for Social Media networks to replace the ailing FriendFeed we had been using with students. I always think it is worth bagging a username, and I know that Alan usually needs someone to talk to on any new social media network 😉 and to be honest, I love to play with suff.

It has taken me a very, very, long time to get used to G+. The main problems I have had with it have been the ones that are obvious with any new Social Media:

  • no audience that is unique to G+ or doing something different there that they are not already doing on Facebook/ twitter
  • initially, no notification system that attracted my attention, also not helped by not having any ‘stuff’ to be notified about. Email notification drove me mad and I don’t use a desktop browser enough these days to pick up the black google bar notification.
  • lack of a decent mobile interface.

I’ve kept dipping in and out, especially as the undergraduates that I used to mentor on Social Media projects with Alan moved from FriendFeed to Google+. I could see the point, and the benefits (no character limit, richer discussions, in-post video/ rich links out), but the mobile interface, notification and audience didn’t change, so it just didn’t have stickiness for me.

Finally, over this last month I have made a concerted effort to re-engage after finding the iPhone app. The interface isn’t perfect (no rich or embedded links when posting) but they have sorted out two major issues, notification and resharing/ +1. I’ve started to change the people I follow and made several revelatory discoveries, like being able to flip between the streams from each circle to filter out noise when I come to catch up at the end of the school day. I’m starting to discover different information from different people than those on my twitter network. It is starting to click. Alan is usually right in the end.

Jo Badge - Google+


Remembering the milk and #gtd

remember the milk

I love to think that there is one thing that I can do that will make me massively productive, stop me from procrastinating and get everything done with zero stress. Of course, there are no magic answers, just hard work and consistent application of effort. However, with two jobs, two kids, a PTA to run, it’s easy for things to get missed or for me to think I’ve forgotten to do something, then spend hours trying to remember what it was (yes, I am 40 later this year and it’s beginning to show!).

Stuart Johnson started using the getting things done (#gtd) technique two years ago. He administers his system using an awesomely geeky method of tagging and smart lists on remember the milk. I love a good list, and I have subscribed to the paid version of RTM for two years and while it is finally beginning to be useful. I thought it would help me to write about how I’m using it, as I think I need to get into some better habits, and writing things down always helps me to clarify my thoughts.

The first thing I’ve realised is that I’m not using #gtd technique at all. Having gone back to look at Stu’s post on Friday, it reminded me of what I’m missing. So far I’m keeping a glorified task list. Here is how it goes:

  1. Something pops into my head ‘must get some mother’s day flowers’, so I make a note in RTM (using email/ tweets/iPod/ google gadget or chrome web page to enter, depending where I am!).
  2. I use the smart entry tags as I enter the task to send it to a list and give it a due date.
  3. Once the task is done, I tick it off (the best bit!)
  4. Once a week I look through all the tasks I have and reschedule remaining tasks to new days in the following week

I have  6 lists:

  • home
  • home_pta
  • home_jobs
  • PGCE
  • work_leics
  • work_OU

Because I use the due date field in RTM, anything ‘due today’ automatically pops up on the front page of the iPod app, and it’s from here that I mostly check what I should be doing today. However, the problem with this is it becomes a list of stuff I have to do in one day, which isn’t actually true, it’s just a list of stuff that is at the top of the pile. Putting things off become demoralising and mixing all the lists up in the iPod ‘things to do today’ view doesn’t help me focus.

So I need to try a few things:

  1. Get back into trying #gtd properly again. This means following the steps: collect, process, organise, review, do.
  2. Start to use next action and projects to break down procrastination and activation energy barriers to getting on with work.
  3. Think about how best to organise my tasks by tagging and smart lists.

A few of us are meeting for a #gtd coffee this week and no doubt a small piece of motivational #cake. I’m hoping that a bit of moral support and some geeky interest in setting up RTM differently will help me move forward. I’ve a lot that I want to achieve before I leave in the summer, and there are lots of projects that I’ve promised to lots of people. I’d like to get them all done!

NOTE: I”ve just discovered that GTD is available as an eBook through UoL library. Well, not a kindle/portable eBook, but full online text viewable in a non-mobile browser 😉 Hopefully I can share my annotations with others (at UoL only needs CFS username to access). The eBray system is rather slow, but I like the annotation system and the sharing idea. If only it was available on a portable reader format….

(oh and before you say it Alan, yes, I could just spend the time actually doing things 😉

HEAT3 iPod Touch project

We were fortunate to be given some funding from TechDis from HEAT3 scheme to buy 10 iPod Touches for use with students. A summary of our findings were presented at the HEA Annual Conference in Manchester on 2 July through a poster and short slide show, copies below.