The picturesque teacher desk is clean, organized, color coded, and a safe haven for teachers looking to hide from students! I see a lot of teachers struggle with translating that vision online, where desktops are often cluttered beyond comprehension. It’s an important issue for people learning to cope with the digital world, because organization online is a little different than organization in real life. Here are five tips that anyone could do to improve their digital workflow.
#1: Clean That Desktop
This is the first and most important one: get rid of that clutter on your desktop. When you have 40/50 files sitting on your desktop, how do you expect to find any of them? All you have to look at is their filename if they’re all Word documents, and it slows you down tremendously. First, put what you don’t need in the trash can. Second, make files in “My Documents” that could hold what you have sitting on your desktop. Last, try to limit yourself to only a few active pieces laying there. File everything else, just like you would in real life.
#2: Filenames Matter
This one does not translate well from the real world. The name you give your files on your computer matters, because it makes finding them a lot easier. If you have several different worksheets on the same topic, having filenames like “Gas Laws Worksheet 1”, “Gas Laws Worksheet 2”, etc. is actually helpful because it let’s you know they all do the same thing. However, if those same worksheets are named “Gas Laws Worksheet” and “Gas Law Problems” then it becomes a burden to have to see what they each cover. Also, being descriptive in your filenames helps the next point.
#3: Use The Search Function In Every Computer
One thing computers can do that we can’t is find stuff for us. For teachers with hundreds of files, it may become tiresome to browse through all of them. Use the Mac Spotlight or the PC’s CTRL+F in the folder your files are to save yourself minutes of time every day you need to locate something. On Google Drive and similar programs, use the search bar to help yourself out. By naming files descriptively, you can easily filter results by just typing in what you want. This won’t save you hours per day, but the time you save each day by doing this adds up quickly.
#4: Make Email Lists
While this one seems like common sense too many teachers don’t do it. Spend the time to go into your email program and make lists for your students, parents, and groups of staff that you frequently email at school. Then, make more lists for your club, your sports teams, and anything else you can think of. Any time you need to send two or more people an email, you automatically save time by having their name in a list, since a list only counts as typing one email.
#5: Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin Online
In a world where a continually larger amount of teaching tools are available to use online, it’s easy to want to sample all of them. Don’t. Your students are far better off having a decent experience with one online tool for the whole year than they are having mediocre experiences with several different ones. Children require consistency to grow and that will never change, not even online. An example would be my use of Edmodo throughout this year. I switched my students from having online Blogs for their homework to using Edmodo and I didn’t like it. I didn’t start the students on their Blogs halfway through the year though because it would take away from the effectiveness of both. The point is choose a select few online resources, stick with them, and become a master of their implementation. You can always try new ones next year.