I am on UFL (Untenured Faculty leave) this year, that is, Bucknell gives me part of my salary in exchange for the expectation that lots of work will get done. Sounds like a good deal.
I have many projects in midstream. I struggle with how to prioritize which project to work on, and within a given project, what tasks are needed, how long they will take, and when to do them. Add to this my tendency to think locally and globally at the same time. So, for example, with a qualitative study of virtual worlds, the local is to review some data. At the same time, I am aware that I never set up what I consider a satisfactory system for handling qualitative data. it needs to be stored, to be accessible to my collaborators, to be searchable and to be able to be handled and combined flexibly. How to do that? So, the local and the global tug at my attention. Meanwhile, a third mental routine starts to count how much time I spend worrying about local vs global and madly trying to calculate cost-benefit. At about this point, it all seems too much trouble and I go read Huffington Post or something.
So, perhaps there is a software app that will enable me to more simply look at multiple projects, add tasks, prioritize and reprioritize, and then fit it into a calendar. And, isn’t UFL a good time to retool my work systems and invest some time in self-improvement?
Any regular readers of this blog (if you exist) will recall “the grid”, a simple table for tracking scholarly work in different stages. I take no credit for it, it is something I learned from colleagues at Bucknell I met in a writing group. What I am looking for would allow me to go within each line (a project) on the grid and do at least three things: 1) establish tasks and subtasks and 2) assign amount of time and schedule when i would do those things and 3) establish levels of priority to help me figure out when to do what.
So, instead of spontaneously trying some application, or improvising with OneNote and other MS products, I decided to be more rational. I asked some friends and on Facebook for suggestions. Many came in! Yeah friendsourcing! (like crowdsourcing, but with friends).
I will review the different options in further posts.