Communication, Google

Monthly communications scorecard in a Google Doc format so you can use it, too!

I recently saw the below “communications scorecard” on the NSPRA Connect forum from the Pattonville School-Community Relations Team. (BTW, if you aren’t already taking advantage of the NSPRA Connect forum, I highly recommend it!)

Producing something like this for my superintendent and school board had already been on my mind, so I set out to recreate the beautiful template from Pattonville in a Google Doc format. I am pleased with the result and am happy to share the file so you can use it, too!

Click here for the Google Doc file. Go to File > Make a Copy to create your own editable version.

Google, Productivity, Tools

Getting started with Google Keep + a nifty Google Chrome trick for organization and productivity

Last week I shared how the use of Google Keep transformed how I organize and prioritize daily tasks for maximum productivity. Some of you had questions about what that looks like, so this week I want to share how easy it is to get started using Google Keep, plus a little Chrome trick that can help you pull it all together.

Go to keep.google.com.

Make sure you’re logged into your Google account. Below is what your screen will look like if you don’t have any notes yet.

Create your first list or note.

You have 3 choices: list, note with a drawing, or note with an uploaded image.
Tip: You can rearrange the list items or indent items by clicking and dragging.

It’s so much more than a list!

Google Keep is SO much more than just notes and lists. Check out the options by mousing over each little icon at the bottom of your list/note.

  • Remind me – get an email reminder with this information
  • Add a collaborator – helloooooo shared shopping lists 🙂
  • Change the color – my Fab Five list is red, so I can’t miss it
  • Add an image – great for screenshots to accompany the note
  • Archive – you can still recall archived notes/lists in left sidebar
  • Delete note – notes in your trash are permanently deleted after 7 days
  • Add label – great for organizing and searching
  • Add drawing – I gotta be honest … have never used this feature!
  • Make a copy – easily duplicate a note/list
  • Hide checkboxes – but WHHYYYY? Checking the box is all the fun!
  • Copy to Google Docs – cool feature, copies everything over to a Google Doc … this is helpful if your notes become too much for Google Keep and really need a Doc all their own.

Organize and prioritize notes and lists.

If you click the little push pin in the top right corner of your note/list, it will pin that note to the top of your collection. I use this trick + color coding to keep my lists organized and prioritized. You can click and drag your notes to put them in a specific order. My Fab Five list is always pinned to the far left corner since those tasks are my first priority.

Yes … my Fab Five list has grown to more like Terrific Ten … it’s all about flexibility, people!

Get the app for notes on the go!

Check out the Google Keep quick start overview from Google here and make sure you download the app on your phone so you can access your notes/lists from anywhere! Look for the little yellow sticky note / lightbulb icon in Google Play or the App Store.

Bonus trick: Set Google Keep as one of your startup pages in Google Chrome!

It’s easy to make lists and take notes, but you’re only as good as your follow through. I have found that setting startup pages in Google Chrome helps me start the day with everything I need for success.

To do this, go to your Chrome browser settings and scroll down until you see “On startup.” You can set your browser to open a specific set of pages every time you open your browser. I have mine set to open Gmail, Calendar, Drive and Keep. This simple trick removes one step for me when I begin my day and ensures that I attend to my Google Keep lists.

Tip: An easy way to do this is to open the pages you want to launch on startup and just click the option to “Use current pages.”
Productivity, Tools

How one simple suggestion + Google Keep completely changed my organization and productivity

I used to think I was a “do one thing at a time until it’s finished” kind of person, but since moving into a school PR role, I have discovered I am more of a “squirrel” type of worker. In school PR, we have to be able to switch gears quickly because we never know what’s going to come up. Many times I am in the middle of one project and another one gets thrown on the pile, or I am researching one topic when a new one comes up. This work environment can contribute to a lack in productivity and sometimes an increase in frustration.

Two years ago at our annual district leadership retreat, I shared this challenge with a colleague during one of our team building/reflection activities. I told him that despite my endless attempts at prioritizing and list making, I never felt like I accomplished what I needed to at the end of the day and that it was hard to really feel productive and strategic. He gave me such a simple suggestion that I had a real “DUH” moment.

Why don’t you make a list of your top 3-5 priorities for the day and tackle those tasks before you move on to anything else on your list?

THANK YOU, BMS Assistant Principal Larry Hughes!

Simple. Genius. Why didn’t I think of that?!

The very next day I set up my “Fab Five” list in Google Keep. I had been using Google Keep for years, but more for more for taking notes on the fly, not specifically for list making and task creation. It suddenly made so much sense to replace the notepad on my desk with a digital list that could be accessed from any device at any time and rearranged with a simple click and drag. (Is anyone else like me … if I have to reorder tasks on a paper list, I will just start over rather than scratch out!)

I “pin” the lists I use the most and make sure my Fab Five is the first one in the row.

I typically update my Fab Five list before I leave work in the afternoon so when I arrive the next morning, I know exactly where to start my day. I set Google Keep as one of my startup tabs in Google Chrome so it pops right up when I login each morning. I also created several secondary Google Keep lists to keep track of ideas, tools, articles, etc. that I come across.

Admittedly, this is not a perfect system and there are times when I have to deviate from my Fab Five, but this method really has changed my daily routine. It’s like having a daily dashboard that helps me stay organized and makes me feel more productive and strategic.

What methods do you use to stay organized? Do you have any tricks for productivity? Leave a comment below – I’d love to read your ideas!

Branding, Culture

3 presentations you can use with students, teachers and leaders for building better brands

How many of your students, teachers, and campus/district leaders truly think of your school or district as a brand?

Although school PR officials understand this, our students and staff members rarely think in terms of branding when it comes to K-12 education. When we say “branding” – they see McDonald’s, Starbucks and Nike. The reality is – we are all working together to build our school and district brands, but we’re also building our personal and leadership brands in the process.

Below are three presentations I developed to use with students in our communications classes and with staff members at our annual district professional development conference to help start those branding conversations. (Please feel free to make a copy to use for yourself!) Here are a few points I like to make during these presentations…

  • Many of us were taught not to “toot our own horn” … that it’s rude to brag, but if we don’t tell our story, no one will!
  • Your NAME is your brand. What do parents think when they see your name on their child’s schedule? Do they fist pump or cringe?
  • If you are unsatisfied with your personal or leadership brand … take this opportunity to RE-BRAND! Companies do it all the time – you can, too!
  • Invest time in your teacher website. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, then write a professional bio! This is often the first thing that stakeholders will read about you.
  • Understand that PR is EVERYONE’S job – not just mine. Each of you can impact our district brand, your campus brand, and each other’s brands. Use that power wisely!
Tools

5 Chrome Extensions I use on a daily basis (and one to grow on!)

I love Google Chrome. It is absolutely my browser of choice. I also love Chrome extensions – little nuggets that let me customize my browser experience. These are my favorites and the ones that I pretty much use every day. The greatest thing about these extensions is that I don’t have to go anywhere or open any program or window to use them … they’re always right there in my browser ready to make my life easier!

  1. Awesome Screenshot – capture any part of your window and make annotations (love the blur tool for pictures of students or sensitive info!)
  2. ColorZilla – little eyedropper tool to grab the color from any place in your browser
  3. Page Ruler – quickly draw a ruler on any webpage to measure objects on the page
  4. Tab Scissors – split your browser window at the current tab
  5. Tab Glue – “glue” your split tabs back together

And my most favorite extension of all…

BITMOJI!

This Chrome extension absolutely, positively does not contribute in any way to my effectiveness or efficiency, BUT it brings me so much joy! I often aspire to communicate solely with Bitmojis.

In fact, my superintendent even uses Bitmoji! We’ve made some notecards for him to send to students with his avatar and they LOVE IT!

Ok – your turn! Leave me a comment with your favorite Chrome extensions. I am always looking for new ones to try out!

Tools

These 3 tools are better than a personal assistant! (Ok, not quite, but I can’t live without ’em!)

When you work in a small school district, you have to find creative ways to work smarter, not harder. There aren’t secretaries at every turn or levels of assistants for delegating tasks. We’re not “top heavy” and we all wear many hats to get the job done. (Fun fact: Even our superintendent shares his secretary!) The tools below are my staples for staying organized and completing tasks efficiently.

1. Google Calendar

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Warning: dramatic statement … I LIVE by Google Calendar. Like, really. There are times when I am walking in the hallway of a campus, hear the ding, and do an immediate about face to head in the opposite direction for a meeting that slipped my mind. Google Calendar is my TOP survival tool! Here are 3 of my favorite things about Google Calendar:

  1. It’s searchable. Can’t remember when you met with that guy last year? Do a search! I put TONS of details in my calendar events so I can search them easily later. This has saved me on several occasions!
  2. It’s a time management tool. I schedule EVERYTHING on my Google Calendar, including blocks of time to work uninterrupted on big projects. If it’s on my calendar, I know I will take the time to get the job done instead of putting it off, AND it keeps me from overbooking myself (usually!).
  3. It integrates with YouCanBook.Me. This is an AWESOME scheduling tool that I use regularly to allow teachers, principals and everyone in between book time on my Google Calendar. It’s user friendly, and the free version gives me everything I need.

2. Google Keep

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am pretty much a “Google Girl.” I love all things Google – especially when the tools help me do my job better and keep my sanity (win-win!). Google Keep is such a powerful tool, but it’s not one of the main apps, so I think it’s underutilized. Google Keep allows you to create digital sticky notes and task lists. Here are 3 of my favorite things about Google Keep:

  1. It’s with me wherever I go. Because these digital sticky notes sync to my Google account, I can access them from anywhere and on any device. Long road trip and your mind is racing with ideas/tasks? Open up Google Keep and make a list. Check the tasks off when you get back to the office!
  2. Notes and lists are sharable. Need to brainstorm with a colleague or share tasks? No problem – just share the digital sticky note. (This works really well for tandem grocery shopping, too!)
  3. It’s a productivity tool. I use Google Keep stickies for daily priority lists and “top tasks.” I have a “Fab Five” sticky note that is pinned to the top of my Google Keep screen with the five things I must complete today. This little nugget keeps me on track (and can keep the stress at bay!).

Boomerang for Gmail

Photo by Karl Gerber on Pexels.com

If your inbox is a disaster or you are one of those “wake up at 2am and work” kind of people, you need Boomerang in your life. Boomerang does these things for you:

  1. Schedule emails to send later (like, NOT at 2am … don’t be that guy!).
  2. Temporarily archive emails and have them pop back up in your inbox at a certain time. (It’s like snooze for your email!)
  3. “Boomerang” an email back to your inbox to remind you to follow up if you haven’t gotten a response from the sender.

What tools keep you from pulling your hair out?!