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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.