Productivity for the Mac Principal

A Principal’s job is not necessarily the hardest job in public education. But it may be the most scattered job with a minutiae filled to-do list that can overwhelm even the most experienced administrator. After doing this gig for 13 years, I am thankful that technology keeps me organized and helps me complete the tasks I need to which gives me more time to think, plan, and sometimes consider vision. Of course, even vision takes organization.

I’ve been a Mac user since 1984 when the first Apple IIe came into play, complete with 5 1/4 floppies and 64 KB of RAM. While I have been a comfortable Windows user as well, nothing beats the Mac for its simplicity, ease of operation, and host of expert client software that helps me be productive. (For an articulate blog centered partly on one tech head’s switch from PC to Mac, check out David Alison.)

Thus, here is my list for the applications that have the greatest potential in helping the Principal organize and stay sane:photo1

1. OmniFocus. The Omni Group develops excellent products and this robust productivity software is designed with David Allen’s GTD philosophy in mind. My organization begins and ends with OmniFocus and its iPhone/iPod Touch companion software. The basic plan with OF is to dump your to-do’s into the in-box and then use OF to organize the items into due dates and contexts. The program is not simple but it’s powerful and easily adaptable to various styles.

2. OmniOutliner. Another Omni Group program, OO is a relatively simple outlining program that has great capability to move and edit text. Great for notetaking at meetings, you can export any text to RTF. I also use it to lesson plan for my college courses.

3. Notebook. A product from Circus Ponies, Notebook is what its name implies. You can import any text or media file into a NB and then easily upload to the Net. I use it for committee work which allows me to easily share documents with members.

4. Quicksilver. A free launcher with more capabilities that I will ever use. My second choice is Butler-both will convince you to never again launch an application via the desktop or dock.

5. Soho Notes. There are a number of programs that serve as a dumping ground for text and media in an age where our fingers fly through web sites. Perhaps the most popular in this genre is Yojimbo but SOHO (formally known as StickyNotes) works just fine.

6. iCal. I was a Palm user for most of my administrative career, daily syncing my Palm and Palm Desktop, not always a satisfying experience for  Mac users. Now that the Mac “cloud” program Mobile Me is stable, using iCal between my administrative assistant and my iPod Touch is seamless.picture-12

7. DragThing. This program allows me to drag files to a program that sits off the side of my desktop and appears when I point the mouse over it. I can quickly grab templates for memos, walk-thrus, or observations and it contains documents I use all of the time like class lists and duty and special schedules.

8. iPod Touch and software. This will be an entire blog entry at some point. Top programs for productivity? In addition to the ones mentioned above, Google App. (which quickly looks up anything on your Contacts program), FileMagnet (holds any Office file, just like the old Documents to Go on the Palm), Notebook (the best note taking program different than the program mentioned above),  Instapaper (allows one to read web articles offline), and the best Twitter application for the iPhone and iPod Touch, Tweetie.

9. Bloglines. How does one keep up with their Internet reading duties? You must use an RSS program. There are many of course, but my current one is the online Bloglines-simple interface and so far, problem free.

10. TweetDeck. This is my  favorite Twitter desktop client that allows me to maintain my PLN (Personal Learning Network) efficiently.

Thus, here’s the Top 10 programs that keep this Principal on track. I’m sure there is  corresponding software for PCs and online, non-client programs are clearly the wave of the future. If I were to write this entry a year from now, my guess is that the list would change. Meanwhile, back to work.

4 comments Add yours
  1. nice post. i took a look at dragthing and, while a nice concept, seems to offer not much more than you could get with quicksilver. QS can actually replace your dock if not for the fact that it does not show you running apps at a glance but drag dropping things onto apps works well in it as well as accessing the ‘shelf’ and clipboard and many more things. it takes some time to get used to it but then it becomes second nature.

    1. I’m on the fence about DragThing at times, but it does hold docs that I use all of the time so I’m able to access them easily. You should try “Pathfinder” which has gained quite a bit of renown as a replacement Finder.

  2. I was also a big Palm user. Even taught Palm productivity to admin See Palm for Educators

    I’ve had an iPhone since day 1 and couldn’t be without it. Another “app” I’d add is the iPhone’s ability to create an RSS feed then bookmark it to your home page. I have loads of them – for quick access to info

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