Trying to Keep the Plates Spinning

Trying to Keep the Plates Spinning

I hesitate to start a blog post writing about how incredibly busy I have been, but it’s the sheer truth. Unlike a badge of honor, the insane amount of stuff that I’m currently responsible for is somewhat terrifying. Even though I consider myself to be an organized person, the second week of the semester has started exposing the cracks in my system for doing and keeping track of everything that is on my plate.

Today I was supposed to attend a teaching review session where I get to watch a video of me giving a micro-lecture and receive feedback to improve my skills as an instructor. I had the time of the review session set in my paper calendar which hangs on the wall beside me at work but for one reason or another failed to also put the time in my phone calendar which is the one that sends me alerts. When I did show up to my session, I was twenty minutes late as I somehow had gotten it in my head that my appointment time was different than what I was actually scheduled for. The person I was meeting understood but unfortunately they already had their afternoon full so I’m now in the process of rescheduling.

Something similar happened a few weeks ago where I got it in my head that a doctor’s appointment was for a Wednesday afternoon and lo and behold, once I checked my email that morning I had a note from the clinic letting me know I had missed my appointment the afternoon before.

Missing scheduled meetings or appointments is so completely out of the norm for me that I have decided to devote part of my time this week to reevaluating how I am keeping track of everything in my life, especially as it relates to work.

Besides my teaching responsibilities, I have three new students directly reporting to me in the lab as I supervise and train them to do undergraduate research. My own work still needs to get done, and keeping up with my notes has proven to be a challenge as of late. I also have office hours and at least 6-8 recurring meetings and/or seminars every week and those are only the required ones.

I have so many different notebooks (I carry at least three of them with me in my backpack) plus I am the queen of sticky notes but somehow things are falling through the cracks. I need to implement one system and stick with it, rather than relying on a hodgepodge style of keeping track of important to do’s and risk missing another one.

I also would like to have better integration with technology. Sometimes colleagues will send me a reminder for an upcoming meeting in my email and I add it to that calendar but I have found that is not enough for keeping track as with the at times overwhelming amounts of messages I receive on a daily basis, it is easy to miss something. I have friends who swear by Google calendar alerts and others who seem to get the most out of Siri but besides manually inputting specific appointments into my phone calendar, I really don’t go any further.

I think I’m going to start by making a decision as to how I am going to record where I need to be and when, whether electronically or on paper and then create a dedicated space that I will hopefully routinely look at or go over to make sure everything is happening when it needs to be with a healthy dose of curation whenever possible to make sure I’m not spreading myself too thin. Wish me luck.

If you have any suggestions or a system for keeping track of important dates and meetings that works really well, please share it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.


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