I’ve used a number of on-line ‘to do’ list applications over the years but about 4 or 5 years ago, I came across one called Wunderlist that I really liked and have been using it ever since. It works on a browser, a tablet or a smartphone so it’s never out of reach. And because it’s cloud based, whatever I enter with one device is instantly available on the others.
A few years ago, I found that Microsoft had purchased the company that developed the Wunderlist app for somewhere between $100 – $200 million. Now, I know that when a company gets purchased, it can spell doom for the customers of the product. It’s hard to understand the business model of a company that gives away a product for free and doesn’t appear to have any up-sells or in-app purchases to generate revenue. So my heart kind of sank when I heard that Microsoft intended to discontinue the product not long after they purchased it.
Then I became aware of a Microsoft todo list simply named ‘To Do’ and that it would allow importing of the data from Wunderlist. I was skeptical at first, but now that I’ve imported my data, and have watched a few tutorials, I am hopeful that this new product will be even better than Wunderlist.
Wunderlist will go away on May 6th, 2020, so if you are a Wunderlist user, I can assure you that the Microsoft To Do list works even better. Now to be fair, I learned to use Wunderlist by just using it and never bothered to read any ‘how to’ articles or tutorials on it. I’m sure a lot of its functionality was lost on me. So I made a point of watching a few video tutorials on Microsoft’s To Do and I’ve included them below in case you’re thinking of taking the plunge. One video is of using it on a mobile device and the other is how to use it in a conventional browser. I learned a lot about its features in these two short videos and found them to be worthwhile.
Like my last blog posting, this one was created in one 25-minute ‘Pomodoro’, which is another productivity tool I recommend. It keeps you focused and reluctant to allow distractions or interruptions. You know you’ll be done in 25 minutes or less so you’re unlikely to allow the task to go unfinished. Give it a try too, I think between the To Do and the Pomodoro Technique, you can get much more accomplished that you realize and in much less time.
I haven’t been doing much blogging over the past few years. One of the reasons is that as a teacher, I don’t really feel like I have any time that I could be writing a blog post that I shouldn’t be doing something related to my job as a teacher. When you’re a teacher, there are always more things that you can do than there is time to do them, and so creating a blog posting is a deliberate use of time that might better be put toward updating assignments or your teaching skills or researching new developments in technology, etc., the list goes on and on.
But I recently came across a time allocating technique that really intrigued me. It’s called the Pomodoro technique and it involves setting aside chunks of time where you avoid distractions and interruptions so that you can concentrate on a single task for 25 minute
intervals. It was developed by Francesco Cirillo back in the 1980’s and is the subject of his book, The Pomodoro Technique. It derives its name from a kitchen timer that looks like a tomato (pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato). I recently ordered a timer since Cirillo feels that the mechanical timer is more effective than an app or electronic device for setting the time since the physical act of winding it puts you in the state of commitment and provides a constant display of the amount of time left. For now, I’m just using a website called tomato-timer.com which seems to be working fine for now.
I’m actually writing this post in the 25 minute allotted time of one ‘pomodoro’.
Although this technique was developed in the 1980’s, it’s even more relevant now because of how easy it is to get distracted today. Back in the 80’s I had a TV that got at most 12 channels. My TV now has hundreds of channels. There was no personal email, no World Wide Web, no computer games, no smartphones, no social media and no YouTube. With all these new technologies that are designed to distract us, it’s amazing anyone gets anything done at all!
So far, I like the discipline this technique imposes on me. When I set a pomodoro timer, I know that I have a limited time to finish the task and then I must stop for a 5 minute break. If you notice that I’m posting more on the blog, it just may be the Pomodoro Technique that is to blame. I’ll keep you updated on how useful I find it.
And I’m glad to report that I got this whole thing written and posted in a single Pomodoro!
Did you know that you can get a Full Stack Web Development Certificate at Aims Community College? It’s true and you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg like you do at some of the bootcamps that teach these skills. Not only that, you’ll earn college credit and that will apply toward an AAS degree, should you decide to pursue that route. The classes required for the certificate are as follows:
The first 4 classes are required for the AAS degree, but if you’re already working in the IT field and just want the Full Stack skills, you can take the CWB classes and you’ll have as good a working foundation as you’ll get from any of the numerous unaccredited $20,000 15-week code bootcamps you see advertising full stack web dev courses. Most of the Aims classes are all available at night or, if you’re a self-motivated individual, you can arrange to take many of the classes online.