Tuesday, August 26, 2008

reQall Videos

Here are a couple of additional videos on reQall:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jott Express

I have received a couple of comments since my post on Jott. In particular, a reader encouraged me to look at Jott Express, which is a free feature. Jott Express functions as a "to-do" list on your desktop. From your cell phone (or any phone), you can speak messages to yourself which will be transcribed into text on Jott Express.

You can go here to see a short video about Jott Express and download it to your desktop.

I did download it and found it to be extremely easy to use. I do not foresee using it personally simply because it gives me one additional place to look for my tasks. With my current system, all papers requiring my attention are in my tickler file. All things digital which require my attention are in Outlook. All of my RSS feeds dump into Outlook. I want to voice reminders to wind up in my Outlook e-mail as well.

That being said, for the person who does not have a fully-developed system, Jott Express may just be the thing.

We all know people who have Post-It notes scattered all over creation and are already having to look in far too many places to find what they have written. Jott Express allows the person to speak into the cell phone, which most people have with them all the time, and have it all wind up in one place. Jott Express could well be "just what the doctor ordered" for the person who is overwhelmed and needs some type of system.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oh No...Jott's Not Free! (But reQall is)

Just a week ago, I was writing about Jott. I have been using it since December to leave quick voice messages for myself and close friends which would be automatically transcribed to e-mails. I wrote about my experiences here.

Well, here is the bad news...as of September 8, Jott is no longer a free service. While one plan is still listed as free, it removes the service's best feature--being able to send messages straight to someone's e-mail.

A quick internet search of "alternatives to Jott" put me onto this Lifehacker post. In a few minutes, I was up and running with reQall.

The direction are pretty straightforward. You will be asked to set up a free account by supplying your name, choosing a user name and password, providing the phone number (or numbers) from which you are going to be calling, and supplying an e-mail address.

In the "Notifications" section, I put check marks beside "e-mail." Finally, I added the reQall phone number (1-888-973-7255) to my BlackBerry contacts and set it as a speed dial key.

I composed several sample messages. Within 10-15 minutes, the messages I left were showing up in my e-mail.

The major way I had used Jott was to send reminders to myself, so reQall is a good substitute. What about sending messages to someone else? Add them as a contact at the reQall site and you can "share" a message.

What you have read here are my perceptions after just a few minutes with reQall. Does anyone else had more experience with this or similar services?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Becoming a People Person

Recently, a friend told me about a conversation she had with a principal who had just read Get Organized! The principal had this to say:

When I accepted the job as principal, I envisioned myself as being a "people person." But, it just hasn't worked out that way. The paperwork and other demands of the job have kept me so busy there has been no time for people. This book is going to allow me to be the "people person" I had hoped to be.

At first, I thought the comment was strange. Get Organized! says very little about people skills. It's a book about organizing paper, digital information, and time. It is about the stress relief that happens when all of your responsibilities are housed in a comprehensive system. But a book about becoming a people person...?

Actually, the comment is right on target. For the last 10 years, I have opened most every workshop with this poem:

Good-bye, Sir, excuse me, I haven't time.
I'll come back, I can't wait, I haven't time.
I must end this letter--I haven't time.
I'd love to help you, but I haven't time.
I can't accept, having no time.
I can't think, I can't read, I'm swamped, I haven't time.
I'd like to pray, but I haven't time.
--Michel Quoist

The poem illustrates the time pressure we all face. Furthermore, the poem makes clear that those things which are pushed aside for lack of time are often the real treasures of life. Get Organized! was written to help the school leader flourish in a profession and in a world where the time demands so greatly exceed the available time. The strategies in the book conservatively add an hour to every day, and probably much more than that.

What do we do with the time we save? The book is silent there. That answer must come from the reader. During this summer's workshops, I began having participants respond anonymously in writing to this question:

If I had one more hour every day, I would...

At the end of the workshop, I read those responses aloud. As a people, we really do have ideas for what we would do if we had more time, and those responses are as varied as the personalities and interests of the people in the room.

For some, another hour a day would mean time to exercise, time to spend with children, time to resurrect that old hobby, time to learn a hobby, or for this one reader...time to spend with the people in the building.

Whatever it is you wish to do, whatever noble service you will perform for your school, your community, your church, and whatever good you will bring to your family or yourself...all of it will be accomplished through the dimension we call time.

If I had one more hour every day, I would...

How will you answer that question?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

How Accurate is Jott?

At yesterday's workshop for the University of Alabama Superintendent's Academy, one of the technology time-savers we discussed was Jott. You can click here for a post I had written about this wonderful tool earlier.

I demonstrated how the process works by sending a Jott to a friend. One of the questions about Jott was how accurate the text translation is. My response was that it was about as accurate as my English. If I pronounce words distinctly, the translation is accurate. If I let my lay Southern drawl slip in, it shows up in the spelling of the text translation.

Printed below is the how the message was translated:

I am having a wonderful workshop here with some of our educational leaders, future superintendents, a whole room full of them, so as you are reading your email now, you will be reading the words that I am speaking right now. I'll talk to you later.

You can't get more accurate that that!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Get Organized! Reviewed for Principal Magazine

The current issue of Principal magazine contains a review of Get Organized! Click here to read the review.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Two New Principal Blogs

When it comes to getting a great deal of benefit for a very small amount of work, blogs are towards the top of my list. I know of no easier way to communicate complete information in a variety of forms (written word, pictures, videos, clickable links) and have it instantly retrievable by any reader months or years later.

I am enjoying reading two new blogs, both established by Kerry Palmer, Principal of Trinity Presbyterian Middle School (Montgomery, Alabama).

http://www.tpsmiddle.blogspot.com is a blog he has established to communicate with parents. The positive tone and informative ideas are sure to keep parents coming back.

is a blog Mr. Palmer has established for his faculty. The style here seems to be one of taking everything his faculty needs to know for the coming week and grouping it in one post. Announcements, calendar events,...it's all right there in one spot.

One of the neat things about a blog is that you never know who is reading yours. Sure, you know the benefit your intended audience is going to get. But, what about those whom you have never met who somehow found your blog and use your ideas in their setting.

Kerry Palmer is a first-year principal after having been a highly-successful band director and assistant principal. I have no doubt that he is going to be outstanding principal. I can certainly see other first-year principals following these blogs and benefiting from the ideas they read. I can also see more experienced principals who want to learn a few new tricks visiting these two blogs.

Good luck to all as we begin another school year. Our tasks will be many, and so will our opportunities. School leadership is a journey, a brave journey, an unending journey.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What a Principal's Office Can Look Like

You would hardly know we are in the hectic first days of school. This is the Principal's Office at Raymond L. Young Elementary School (Talladega, Alabama). My friend and colleague Pattie Thomas is responsible for organizing this beautiful workspace!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Back to School!

School is starting and students are looking forward to the perfect school year. Notebooks are brand new. Bookbags are neatly organized. All is looking good for the first day of school. For all too many students, the opening-day euphoria is gone after just a few days as bookbags become large black holes and frustration replaces the first-day enthusiasm.

About this time a year ago, I composed a five-set post entitled "Managing School the Easy Way." Now is probably a good time to review that set:

School need not be an ordeal. Half of school success (and maybe a while lot more) boils down to organization. Welcome back to school!