Sep 102010

Since I’m being allowed a gentle start to probation, I thought I’d take the opportunity to get myself organised ‘administratively’. I’m not a natural organiser. I have a bunch of notebooks with no order to them where jottings of meetings get put – along with to-do lists and ‘notes to self’ and contact details and reminders and… You get the idea. Basically, I need to find a system of work that… works.

I’m a lot better at the ‘diary thing’ than I used to be and use a smartphone which syncs with my pc calendar (which is shared by my wife, so we each know what the other is doing – although the kitchen calender is still the ‘master’). It’s also my contacts list. The downside of such technological wizardry is that, surprisingly (or not), it is not that ergonomic. It’s difficult to get an ‘at-a-glance’ picture of a week, a month, or even a year unless I am at the pc with its larger screen. Paper diaries area lot more user-friendly. Flicking between ‘views’ is also a lot easier when you have a paper diary with a year planner. Jotting down a quick diary date is so much easier in a paper diary. So, I’ve decided to go back to using a paper diary which I’ll get in the habit of ‘synchronising’ with my master (electronic) diary on a regular basis.

But, small, neat diaries are not so great for taking notes at meetings, so I still need a notebook. To avoid having a jumble of notes it needs to be re-arrangeable, so probably a filofax-style one. So why not use that as the diary as well? Good question. I’ve been doing some ‘experimenting’ and find that anything with a page size smaller than A5 is just a bit cramped for notes, or it ends up over too many pages. That’s a fairly chunky organiser and not so discreet to cart around all the time. But it’s OK for going to meetings or visits where I know I’ll need to take lots of notes. That size also has the advantage that I can print out the electronic calendar on A5 sheets and keep the latest printout in the organiser.

But… how to organise the organiser?

Actually, that’s not so difficult. I guess I’ll use it primarily for funeral visits and pastoral visits. Contriving a generic ‘report’ sheet to print out and insert isn’t too difficult. Similarly for meetings and planning activities.

One issue, of course, is data protection. Anyone clear on the rules for such things as it applies to keeping a record of visit details? Or is that only for electronic data?

So, I think I know what I’m doing to be the super-efficient, well-organised, every-piece-of-information-at-my-fingertips probationer, but we’ll see how long it lasts.

Anyone else got advice/ideas for keeping track of diaries and notes?

  3 Responses to “Getting organised”

  1. In this information rich age this is a problem!  I’ve tried a number of ways – wholly electronic – not easy to read or browse as you say – wholly paper – gave that up a long while ago since trying to keep track of 2000+ contacts.  In the end I’ve gravitated to the sort of thing you are talking about – a paper notebook for notes (now there’s a novel idea!) with the electronic organiser/PC double act for calendar and contacts.  Of course the key thing which makes the whole package work like a well-oiled machine is the one thing I struggle with – the discipline to “synchronise” these two on a regular basis so that the name and telephone number and the agreed date in my paper book gets to the electronic version that is easy to carry around.  From a fellow struggler – good luck!

  2. Thanks for commenting Eric.

    I think you’ve rightly highlighted the crucial area – that discipline to keep it all synchronised. That’s why I’m hoping that by starting now I’ll get into good habits. Then, when there aren’t enough hours in the day, this should be more like second nature and actually prove useful.

  3. On the topic of data protection, my understanding of the current rules is that (suppose I’d best say that I’m not a lawyer, consult your own etc…) is that data protection rules apply to all organised and processed information, not just that which is on a computer.  So even if visit details are scrawled on the back of a beer mat, if you process or organise your beer mats (alphebetic or by flavour?) then you have to protect it.
    Basic rules are along the lines of
    Look after it
    Keep it up to date
    Don’t share it unless the subject has consented
    Don’t keep it for longer than is required
    And it’s probably not too relevant to most of the CofS, but don’t send it outside the EU.
    And you’l find a more accurate version of the above
    There is a minister in Glasgowshire that does everything, including delivering sermons, on his new I-pad!

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