jenett: Big and Little Dipper constellations on a blue watercolor background (Default)
[personal profile] jenett
So. I have a lovely new job, and I am at the stage of the lovely new job (this is the end of my 4th week) where I am beginning to figure out what I want to do going forward.

In particular, I'm looking for a good way to track ongoing projects. I have a todo list I like (Todoist, which I use for both work and home stuff), and I have a tracking method (inherited from my predecessor) for tracking actual reference requests (an Excel spreadsheet).

But I also have a bunch of other things (right now, the list includes rearranging the office shelves and piles of things, creating some handouts and materials for researchers, shelfreading, reading through the annual reports so I get a sense of what's in them, building a knowledge base document with things like "What are the names of the bells in the bell tower" and "why is this particular sculpture unusual". Lots of stuff that is long term but has segmented bits, in other words)

And I'm trying to figure out the best way to track "Made X handout" or "reviewed Y materials and edited" or whatever, so that later, I can figure out what I did when, or so that if my boss asks what I've been up to, I can summarise quickly.

I'm reasonably open to technology, but my work computer has less memory than it might, and complains with more than about 10 open browser tabs.

So. What do you all do? What have you tried that didn't work for you?

(This is a public post: feel free to invite people to drop in and comment. Same requests as my previous Salon posts, namely assume people have reasons for what they're doing, comments that improve the conversation or ask questions are entirely welcome, if you do not have a DW account, please put a name we can call you in your comment.)

(no subject)

Date: Friday, May 29th, 2015 01:06 pm (UTC)
davidgillon: A pair of crutches, hanging from coat hooks, reflected in a mirror (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgillon
building a knowledge base document with things like "What are the names of the bells in the bell tower"

Aha, the birth of Perkipedia ;)

So. What do you all do?

My almost inevitable response to things like this is to create an Excel spreadsheet. It doesn't have to be much - a plain worksheet listing task name/description and hours sounds like it will get you by at first, but I almost inevitably end up augmenting these as new ideas for using the sheet pop up. And it isn't something I'd necessarily have open all the time, a once a week approximation of what you spent your time on is probably going to be all you need for now (this may just possibly resemble the way I always filled in timesheets - 'Oh, call it 5 hours on X, it was somewhere around there')

(no subject)

Date: Friday, May 29th, 2015 03:50 pm (UTC)
lizcommotion: A black-and-white photo of a Victorian woman (victorian lady)
From: [personal profile] lizcommotion
I've played around with Wunderlist, it seems to be good but I get caught up in making too many complex lists rather than doing things.

Recently been rec'd Do It (tomorrow), which has a more straight-forward interface that looks like it would work better for me, but not sure it would track things the way you need it to.

Re: keeping a low number of browser tabs/keeping track of links, I'm not sure if you're looking for a solution but have you considered Zotero? It's a Mozilla plug-in that lets you store links, sync them between computers, share them with others (say if you're in a class or some kind of fandom group), and last time I used it extensively there were ways to automatically export citations but there was some kind of legal battle with EndNote so not sure if that functionality is still there in the same way. Also, when you add something to the database and pull it up later, it uses the Internet Wayback machine to try to pull the site up *as it was when you added it*.

Obvsly adding a Mozilla plug-in could also slow your work machine down, but just mentioning because I find it way easier to keep track of bookmarks with Zotero than endlessly disorganized bookmark folders/emails spread out across multiple machines.

(no subject)

Date: Friday, May 29th, 2015 09:00 pm (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
For my workplace, because of reasons that had to do with a previous manager, I keep an Excel spreadsheet with my daily time on it, just depositing what it was I did that day at what times. If I forget what I did that day, it's not as easy to reconstruct, but if I'm on top of it, it serves as a quick way of knowing what happened in any given day, in hourly chunks.

(no subject)

Date: Friday, May 29th, 2015 09:26 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is Venecia. First, I'm also a huge fan of Todoist (paid).

I feel like OneNote might be just the thing for you. It comes with Office and is relatively lightweight. It's like a hyper flexible text editor where you can keep all kinds of stuff, from notes, lists, links (websites, emails, documents on your network). You can type anywhere on the page and if you have a tablet even hand write.

The context hierarchy is Notebook (dropdown) / Section (tab) / Page (side menu). Navigation is easy and intuitive. You can have everything in a single place or categorize as necessary. And it has fast text search where you can set scope (all notebooks, this notebook, this page) and get sorted results. It autosaves and keeps history.

Finally, there are apps for your smart phone so you could, in theory, be in the stacks with your phone referencing your notes.

(no subject)

Date: Sunday, May 31st, 2015 12:28 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I use evernote exclusively for saving recipes from the web (both food and crafts).

Something new I've been experimenting with very recently is WorkFlowy, which is like the ultimate flexible bullet list. I like it for notetaking and big brain dumps because it's got keyboard shortcuts for everything (no mousing required). Plus you can see the overall heirarchy, but focus quick on a particular level. The thing I don't like is the lack of linking (it turns URLs into links, but you can't link to files or other locations).

To me a bulleted list works like a mindmanger. I can brainstorm very easily and make sense out of all kind of disparate thoughts and data. So it might be used just for that.

Otherwise the tools set looks like:
Events and appointments: Outlook (work) and Gmail (home) -- both appear together on my phone
Todos and tasks: Todoist

(no subject)

Date: Saturday, May 30th, 2015 01:20 am (UTC)
aedifica: Silhouette of a girl sitting at a computer (Girl at computer)
From: [personal profile] aedifica
Oh, I wouldn't have thought of OneNote but yeah, I think it would do what you're looking for, Jenett. With the caveat that it doesn't exist for Mac...

(no subject)

Date: Saturday, May 30th, 2015 02:05 pm (UTC)
sine_nomine: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sine_nomine
I have to admit I go decidedly low-tech with such things... I keep both a "To Do" list and a "Done" list and they are both handwritten on (horrors!) paper. MUCH faster for me to pick up a pen and jot down stuff. Too, when I get interrupted, it's easy to look back at the done list and see what task I was working on so I can get back to it more quickly. I also found that, at the end of the day with only a To Do list, it felt like I had done nothing because only a couple things were getting crossed off... but with a Done list I could look back at two very full sheets of lined paper and realize I accomplished a lot.

Additionally, one thing I do when playing Admin (which means it may or may not work for you) is that EVERY task I did got a folder. Didn't matter if it was a complex PowerPoint presentation or a one-off photocopying of an article. On the tab of the folder I wrote the task and the date assigned. On the front of the folder, I wrote the date I worked on something for that project and a precis of what it was. When the task was completed, I wrote Completed with the date and filed it in my filing cabinet. Kept them, generally, in date order unless there were lots of tasks that went well together. This way it gave me a visual tracking device. Further, I stored the in-progress tasks (and it didn't matter if I hadn't done anything yet on it; the minute it got assigned it got a folder) in angled file sorters... which meant I could rearrange priorities on a moment's notice, could see what all had to get accomplished quickly, etc. And, finally, I used the folders to store my work product both in-progress and final so that if I had to go back and make another copy of the article, for example, it was already there to hand.

I found that the combination of the physical reality plus the act of writing helped me both stay on task better and then, at the end of the day, week, month, whatever I had VERY visual proof of what all I'd accomplished in case anyone said "What do you do all day?!?"

YMMV, of course, but on-line tracking of this stuff wouldn't work for me in the slightest.
Edited (because I forgot something...) Date: Saturday, May 30th, 2015 02:08 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: Sunday, May 31st, 2015 02:52 pm (UTC)
sine_nomine: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sine_nomine
Understood re overwhelmed; I guess because I don't use my done lists for data collection (and let my folder system speak for itself) I haven't found that to be an issue but, of course, YMMV. :-)

(did she intend to hand her records to anyone with visual issues? Because, depending on the person, one medium may be much easier to read than the other, as you likely know)

Done lists, I found, were critical to my sanity because I'd get to the end of the day and feel exhausted and like I'd worked non-stop and yet it looked like nothing was accomplished.

Yes, re tally sheet. Makes a good deal of sense.

Good luck with whatever you end up doing!

(no subject)

Date: Sunday, May 31st, 2015 04:50 pm (UTC)
sine_nomine: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sine_nomine
This all makes sense.

Too, I think it will be easier on you building on your predecessor's work; you don't have to make your own system... just see how it all fits together.

Good luck with it all! I am so thrilled that this really seems like an ideal fit for you on so many levels.

(no subject)

Date: Saturday, May 30th, 2015 09:10 pm (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
I do daily text files in a text editor which has a single button to insert a timestamp (Notepad originally, and then I convinced Notepad++ to do it as well), with a weekly sum-up on the work wiki in theory. (In practice I'm playing catchup.)

(no subject)

Date: Monday, June 1st, 2015 11:44 am (UTC)
hunningham: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hunningham
And how I do it - just in case it's of interest at this stage. I've tried excel for time tracking but it did not work for me - I ended up just making up time-entries, which is really not the way it should go.

I use toggl for time-tracking, which I really like. Available as website, or app, and free for single users.

I also use paper log books, hard-backed - the sort lab technicians use (or the sort I used when I was a lab technician). This is for everything - to-do lists and ta-da lists, notes from meetings & phonecalls, thinky things, and a work diary. It has to be a permanent logbook; pieces of paper just disappear into the void and are gone forever.

And between paper and toggl I'm usually okay.

(no subject)

Date: Monday, June 1st, 2015 02:27 pm (UTC)
eeeeka: A time lapse photo of a lighthouse at night. (Default)
From: [personal profile] eeeeka
I don't think this is what you need, but I was just introduced to BaseCamp by my job and it looks pretty awesome. However, it's not free (monthly fee, iirc). It's an online project management tool that's pretty user friendly. I think it's more than you need, since it's really designed for collaboration which (potentially) lots of other people.

As someone said upthread, OneNote is also pretty awesome. I'm using it to track projects with links, meeting notes, a to do list and a bunch of other things. And you can share them with other people. I think the online version allows you to share with people who don't technically have the license. Again, not free, but I like it.

(no subject)

Date: Sunday, May 31st, 2015 12:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I like Trello, and toggl, and rescuetime. Trello to track tasks and things in progress, toggl to track actual time spent on various projects, and rescuetime because it tells me how much time I spend on different sites/in different applications. Between that and my sent email, I can get a decent picture of what I did in any given week.
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