Monthly Archives: February 2016

My new favorite To-Do-List App

As a school principal, I have spent many, many hours trying to hone my organizational skills in order to be more productive. Do it quicker, better, more streamlined…automaticity.  You know the drill. I have tried many different methods of organization. When teaching in the 1990s, I learned a very successful method of calendaring and to do lists from Motivational Speaker Dave Weber. At that time it was a paper and pencil, binder and filing type of system. Recently I have noticed that Dave has morphed his system to meet the electronic needs of today.   I might have to check out this new workshop one day…..

Since my school system has gone GOOGLE, I naturally use Gmail, Calendar, Drive and all that comes with it. I also love using Evernote (though mostly for long term storage of pictures, meeting notes, and documents).  But….. for my long list of To Dos, I have found a simple and free app that I have fallen in love with.



 “Wunderlist” is a to-do list and task manager that’s compatible with almost any device you can think of. iPhone? Yep. Android? You bet. Windows Phone? Sure. It’s even available on the web, so you can access it from your computer without having to download the application.

 Wunderlist helps keep your entire life organized, and it’s dead simple. When the user creates an account, the app suggests a few lists to help organize tasks. The ability to create and rename as many as you want, allows users to move and place certain tasks in the appropriate topics.

Need to study for a test? Put that task in the school list. Need to buy milk? Put that task in a grocery list.

If you tell it to, Wunderlist will send you a notification at the time you specify, and can be delivered as an email or phone alert.

You can even set a recurring reminder – like going to the gym at 7 p.m. every Monday.

source of quote


wunderlist all devices


Wunderlist is a FREE To-Do List app that keeps my life organized. I love it because I have it on all my devices and I can add or edit ‘on the fly’ anywhere I am. When I check off a task, it gives me a loud ‘ding’ – that is so satisfying.  😉   I have folders for each area of my life and I keep adding new areas all the time. To give you some ideas, this is a list of where I started:

  • Family (things I have to do or remember for the husband, children, parents)
  • Work (I actually have several sections for work: observations, ideas for next professional learning, things to remember for 2016-17, etc.)
  • Pets (vaccination, grooming)
  • Church (my nursery volunteer schedule, greeter schedule, planning for the next bible study or women’s conference)
  • Home repair (this one is my dream of all I will get done over Spring Break, or during those short two weeks off during the summer)
  • Grocery list (this one is ongoing, constantly checking off items and adding more)
  • Christmas gifts (just trying to think ahead folks)


wunderlist landing

Once you get yourself started, be sure to set some reminders. This is such a cool feature. Check it out. You’ll be glad you did! And be sure leave me a comment about ways you have found to use Wunderlist.

Wunderlist website

Wunderlist app in iTunes

You Tube video: Introduction to Wunderlist


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READING…it’s not just for the kids!

One of my primary New Years Resolutions for 2016 is to spend more time doing what I want my students to do and love……READING!

book pages with heart

In years past, I have made lists…lists of books that I have already read, and lists of books that I want to read. But, most of those lists were made in the years before becoming a mother and a principal. In the last decade, I have grabbed a book whenever I could. I have read a few books, I’ve followed some blogs, I’ve perused articles someone posted on Twitter. But mostly, I have thrown together some supper, bathed the child, checked the homework, walked the dogs, and crawled under the sheets more tired than I could imagine, turning off my brain, and turning on Netflix until I slipped effortlessly into dreamland, leaving the movie to be concluded sometime over the weekend. Reading has taken a backseat for far too long.

This year, my overarching goal is to be more purposeful and intentional in all areas of my life. I am becoming more structured in my prayer life, and more disciplined in my bible study time. So, I have decided to structure my Reading resolution by dividing my books to be read into three areas:

  1. Books about Faith
  2. Books for Work
  3. Books just for Fun

This should help me to be more balanced in my reading initiative. Loving planners and calendars and all sorts of organization like I do, I searched for a graphic organizer/chart that would help me to read with purpose and stay on track. (Once a teacher, always a teacher….geez.)

Here is the monthly book chart I chose to use this year. I typed directly into the .pdf and saved it. In each month, I typed 2-3 titles (depending on how many school holidays I had during that month: spring break, summer, and thanksgiving weeks I can handle more reading; May and August, I can barely take a shower and feed myself in time to get a good night’s sleep!) With parentheses, I designated the book category: (faith), (work), or (fun). This sheet also gives me a good view of the entire year, and I can move titles around or add new ones as I go.

FYI. My education titles for this year include:

A Beautiful Constraint: How To Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages, and Why It’s Everyone’s Business

Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us

The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and WOW

The Ten-Minute Inservice: 40 Quick Training Sessions that Build Teacher Effectiveness

The Life & Death of the Great American School System

stack of books with kindle

I found a great article about making time in our busy schedule. It encourages me.
15 Ways to Make More Time to Read

  1. Make reading a priority
  2. Set a reading goal
  3. Make reading part of your routine
  4. Keep books readily accessible
  5. Be willing to read in spurts
  6. Read more than one book at a time
  7. Don’t be afraid to go away from your list
  8. Turn off the TV
  9. Get off Facebook
  10. Keep a good book on your mobile device
  11. Utilize the wonderful world of audiobooks
  12. Read while you exercise
  13. Ban the guilt
  14. Use the bathroom
  15. Read while you blow dry your hair or brush your teeth

Another helpful article:  How to Read a Book When You are Busy

kindle in hand







eBook anyone?

kindle iconibooks icon nook icon







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“Where did my time go?” asked the Principal.


Time. I think TIME is the greatest challenge for educators – our time is finite.  We have but 180 days every year, many of them filled with distractions. As a teacher, I knew that I would eat lunch each day at exactly 11:18 and that I would use the restroom at precisely 1:40. That was too much restriction for my tastes, but that is the life of a teacher. Your days run on a precise time schedule. When I left the classroom to become an administrator, I relished the flexibility of my schedule. As an administrator, every day is different. Oh, you can make a plan, write a to-do list, but by day’s end, you never know whether you will be on item #1 or #8. For building administrators, time management can be a real monster. Even after 15 years, I still grapple with this issue. I always have room for improvement.

In contemplating this problem, I decided that the first step is to analyze how my time is spent. Since I am ‘packing heat’ everyday with an iphone and an ipad mini, it only makes sense to use an app. So, I am trying out an app called HOURS.

hours screen 1 hours screen 2

hours screen 3










Hours is the time tracker you will actually use.
“The Perfect iPhone Time Tracking App” – Forbes
“Surprisingly pleasant to use…well-thought-out interface” – TechCrunch
“The world’s easiest way of tracking your time.” – 9to5Mac
Best New Apps – Apple

See this app in action.  Also, it is available for Apple Watch as well. SWEET!

Inside the app, I have designate four broad areas in which I spend the most time:

  • working in my office (discipline referrals, reading and responding to email, calls from vendors, etc)
  • conferencing with staff (teacher talk is usually informal but full of nuggets that are good-to-know)
  • conferencing with parents (in person,  or on the phone)
  • walking the building (observations, lunchroom, where ever I go when I can get out of my office before someone stops me)

The app allows me to turn the time ON and then OFF when I transition to the next task.

My hope is that this experiment will help me get a true picture of where my time is spent so that I can find ways to allocate it to tasks that yield the most benefit.  I’ll let you know how it goes….

time quote from Henry Ford

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