4 Technology Resolutions for Staying Organized in 2020

This year I decided to make some new resolutions that will save me a lot of time by streamlining my workflow and staying organized.

Here are my 2020 resolutions for doing so using technology!

1) Ride the Wakelet Wave

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I come across dozens of resources each week that I’d like to save for future reference. But where do you save them? Do you add them to your Favorites? Do you bookmark them? Where do they go? And, how do you remember where you saved them?

Fortunately for us, Wakelet makes it super easy to save your favorite resources into categories. If you are unfamiliar with Wakelet, it works along the lines of Pinterest. You simply come across a Tweet, website or resource you’d like to curate, and then you “pin it” to a board using the app or a Chrome extension. You add add collaborators, share your collection, embed your collection, and also print the collection out as a PDF. And, it’s FREE!

I can’t even tell you how many amazing Tweets I have lost before utilizing the power of Wakelet. Now, using the Wakelet app on my phone and the extension in my Chrome Browser, I can add the Tweets to an organized collections that I may later review.

You can also make fun cover images for each collection like I did below. Click the image to check out an example of a curate list of my favorite Google Slides tips and tricks. (Here’s a Google Slides template for making a cover image.)

My Google Slides Wakelet Collection. Click the image to view.

2) Google Driving Me Crazy!

I’m not proud to admit it, but sometimes my Google Drive can be a complete mess. This year, I really want to do a better job by staying organized within my Drive from the get-go. Here are the steps I’m going to take.

  • Step 1: Delete and Narrow Down

The first step I’ll need to take is to search for all my Untitled files and delete them. I’ll do that by just typing “Untitled” into the search bar. Now, I’ll narrow down the Folder names that I will specifically need to stay organized. If you don’t know how to make a Folder it’s simple. Just go to Drive.Google.com, click on New and select Folder. Pro-Tip: Hold down Shift to select numerous files for deletion. I’ll move all my previously created files into one of these Folders.

  • Step 2: Pre-Writing Goals

This year, I’m going to add the title to my Doc and move it into a folder BEFORE I even start creating. After I type in Docs.new to create a new Doc (shortcut came out this year) I will then immediately title the Document. After you type in your title, you’ll notice a little star appears to the right allowing you to mark this document as important. You’ll also notice the little folder to the right of the star. Just click the Folder and move your new Document into the correct Folder.

  • Step 3: Shift Z to Add Documents to numerous Folders

Do you have a Doc that really should be in numerous Folders? DO NOT make copies! Instead, move the one Doc into numerous Folders using SHIFT+ Z! This way, whenever you update the Doc, it will be updated into all the Folders!

Shift Z allows you to add the Doc into numerous folders without making a bunch of unrelated copies.

3) Strawberry Shortcuts

I’ll be the first to admit I need to improve on all my Macbook trackpad shortcuts and keyboard shortcuts. Shortcuts not only save you time, but they are less interruptive to your workflow. We all know Control-Alt-Delete will reboot your computer, and Ctrl Z will undo your last move (don’t we?) ,but do you know about the hundreds of other shortcuts that are designed to save you time? My favorite shortcut is SHIFT-Z to move a file into multiple folders. It is such a time-saver!

I decided to save time in this blog, by using the Wakelet Chrome Extension to quickly curate a list of Shortcuts resources for you. I just clicked on the extension while viewing a post in Twitter, and Wakelet asked me to name my new collection.

Click here to view my Wakelet Shortcut Folder.

My new Wakelet Collection of Shortcuts

4) Gmail Tsunami

Luckily, I was able to attend a session by Allison Mollica at an AppsEvents Summit this Summer. She provided some amazing tips on how to stay organized and prevent a “Gmail Tsunami” in my inbox! You need to check out her presentation in the link. It’s fabulous!

The most useful tip was to FILTER and LABEL my messages so that they immediately go into a folder for me to reference at a later time. For example, if I know that I want to keep all my newsletters from my favorite podcaster to read at a later time, I can make a Label called “Favorite Podcaster Newsletters” and then change my Filter to make my incoming mail from that person go into that folder. The future emails from that person will be neatly archived for me to review when I have time.

Here’s how!

  • Step 1: When you open an email, create a Label by clicking on the TAG above. Then, either select the appropriate lable by checking the box, or click “Create New” at the bottom to make a new Label. I’ll make one named “Favorite Podcaster Newsletter”.
  • Now create the Filter by going into your Settings (the cogwheel in the right corner) and choosing Filters.
  • Now create a Filter by adding the email or subject you’d like to filter. (I added a fake email for this demonstration).
  • Now select the Label you just created.

All emails from that address will now go into this labeled folder. You can find this labeled folder on the left side of your screen. Just click on it and your future emails from that address will now be found here for your viewing pleasure!

Do you have any tech resolutions to stay organized? I’d love to hear about them!

Digital Hall Passes using QR Codes

This Fall, educators are doing everything they can to provide sanitized materials for our students. But what about those old, laminated bathroom passes or sign-out notebooks? If your students have access to a device that can scan QR codes you may want to consider using digital hall passes. Most all newer model SMARTphones, tablets and laptops are able to scan QR codes.

Why QR Code Hall Passes?

If students have access to a device with a QR code scanner, the codes allow students to quickly scan the code whenever they need to leave the classroom without touching a shared bathroom pass or notebook. This also creates a record system for the teacher by recording student activity using a spreadsheet.   The information may then be sorted and shared with parents, co-teachers or administrators as needed. This blog post also explains how to create a pre-filled link so even our youngest learners can scan a code with their names and destinations already selected for them.

Step 1: Create a Google Form

The first thing to do is create a Google Form. Go to Forms.new and create a question for every QR code category that you would like to create. And, list student names as the answers to each question. Save yourself time by duplication each question and editing the destinations. Do NOT make answering the question a required action.

Example FORM with hall pass categories and student names.

Step 2: View Response Sheet

Once you are finished, click on View Response Sheet above. And select “View responses in Sheets”.

Step 3: Create a New Sheet Tab for Links

Open the Sheet and create a new Sheet tab for the links to the pre-filled responses you are about to create. Creating pre-filled Form responses will allow students to scan codes that already have their name and desired action selected. Use only 2 columns in this tab. One Column will be for the student links. One Column will be for descriptions.

You will want the final Sheet to look like this:

Example Sheet with Links

Step 4: Copy the Pre-Filled Links

Go into Google Forms and create the pre-filled link for each student response. In this example below, I am creating QR Codes for “Bathroom-Out” and “Bathroom-In” for Student 1.

Note: that if you are creating a generic numbering system instead of student names you will only have to do this once and not every new school year. Paste the link in the Sheet and make sure to add the description in Column B. Here’s a link to my Sheet for reference.

Step 5: Optional- Edit the link in Google Sheets to formResponses.

Now that we have the link, we are going to paste it into the Links tab in Google Sheets. But, we are going to edit the link and change it from “viewform” to read “formResponse”. This edit will allow students to Scan the code and automatically log their response. If you do not change from viewform to formResponse, students will see their names and the Form questions. It’s really a personal preference.

Step 6: Add QR Code Generator Add-On

Once you have finished copy, pasting and editing the codes, you will now add the QR Code Generator Add-On for Google Sheets. This allows you to highlight the URL for the Code, along with the student names, and create a printout of all the QR codes for your students. It’s pretty simple to use. Just go to Add-Ons, select “Get Add-ons” and add the QR Code Generator. (Note: The new update for QR Code generator requires you to only use 2 columns)

You will get a printout like this:

Step 7: Test your QR Codes

You now have a QR Code for every student. Try printing and scanning a QR Code and see if it works by logging the information into your form response tab in Google Sheets. When you scan the code it should timestamp the activity and place the student name in the appropriate column.

Example Form

Step 8: Distribute QR Codes

I used Google Slides to copy and paste the codes. Determine how you’d like to distribute codes to students. For example, do you want to laminate them and place them on their desks?

Step 9: Explain routine to students

You did it! Student QR Codes are ready to go and all student activity will be logged into Google Sheets. Now, explain the routine to students and you are ready to go!

Do you have a better system? I’d love to know!