I have a confession to make: I am not a naturally organized person. At all. I can seek out information easily and can generally retain concepts well, but dates and names and physical pieces of paper tend to escape me at warp speed. When spending the work week at one desk, this didn’t cause too very much of a problem for me because anything I filed away could be easily found again. When I found myself on the road and between offices for this position though, I suddenly felt under-prepared pretty frequently. Having a time sheet in wrong city or not having access to a key piece of information became a much bigger deal when I only saw my supervisor once a week.
A big help has been slowing down from time to time. When you’re passionate about your job or your cause, it’s incredibly easy to be “on” all the time and to rush from task to task. After all, it feels more productive to be using more energy, right? It’s taken me a long time to realize that it’s okay to slow down and regroup, and that thing tend to run more smoothly that way anyhow. As simple as it sounds, I’ve just recently started to make myself think about the day each morning, and think about each meeting before I leave the office to try and anticipate what materials I will need or what thoughts should be gathered.
An immensely useful tool, especially since I move between computers a lot, has been dropbox. Dropbox is software that syncs your files online and across your computers. It “lives” as a folder within your “my documents” folder, and you can install it on each computer. So, when I have a file in my dropbox folder and I edit and save it at the office in Hyattsville, it will also update on my home computer, my netbook and my iPhone as well as be available online through my account at dropbox.com. Gone are the days of emailing tons of documents to myself, having different versions of them everywhere, and not being to access files that I didn’t think to email ahead of time because I didn’t think I’d need!
Dropbox even has shared folders, so I can collaborate on documents with anyone else with a dropbox account. This has been helpful with my supervisors in Baltimore, because I can upload files to a shared folder instead of emailing multiple large files on a regular basis. I also have another shared folder for the members of my Learning Action Team, a small group of VISTA Leaders across the country working together to increase the usage of www.vistacampus.org. Since we’re spread apart and only meet over the phone once every week or two, it’s invaluable to be able to collaborate on files without trying to send everyone every little edit through email.
Lastly, there’s an option to files in a public folder. If you do that, dropbox will create a URL which you can send to people. For example, check out some pictures of my colleagues and I working on a Habitat for Humanity build or from Money Power Day, an event put on every year by Balitmore Cash Campaign.