Friday, February 26, 2010

Getting Things Done Better

The busier I am the more interested I become in efficiency.

I've known about Getting Things Done (GTD) for a while, but it always seemed like too much work. Then I lose track of a couple of ToDos and I suddenly take a renewed interest in capturing and planning everything. :)

Likewise for Some Techniques for Learning by Connections. It's kind of a verbose article, but the list of techniques are a good reminder and make sense to me, so I thought I'd share them.

Of course, now I'm blogging about doing things rather than doing them, so off I go. :)


update: P.S. if you have any tips or techniques for getting things done, please mention it! Thanks. :)


MamasBoy said...

You mean you have a life with literal face to face interaction? Does that exist anymore?

Kevin said...

Not AFAIK. Sadly, I'm at the point where even face-to-computer-to-computer-to-face interaction would be a big step up! :)

Scott said...

I concur on the idea of learning by connections. I try to tell students that one of the marks of a good students is curiosity. I think a curious mind remembers more because it makes connections. That's probably just amateur educational psychology, but it makes sense.

BTW, thanks for linking to my blog!


Kevin said...

Good advice, Scott. I'm a big proponent of student motivated learning where curiosity and desire are the guide. Unfortunately, comparing people is far easier with uniformity, while curiosity leads to all sorts of detours and tangents, sometimes leaving strange holes.

Balancing the two -- cultivating curiosity in the midst of compelled learning -- is a struggle, but a very valuable skill. In my experience, it is made easier by having just the right amount of free time and environment to explore.

Re linking your blog: my pleasure! You do a great job.


Scott said...

I like the way that you talked about curiosity within compulsion. I'd like to figure out how to do that. So part of that's on me, but I think that the standardized school system probably crushes some of that curiosity out.

Here's a video on that subject that makes a similar point. Unfortunately he spends too much time making jokes and not enough explaining:

Kevin said...

Yeah! I actually saw that video fairly recently! A bunch of those TED talks are very good; I should post about some of them, even if just 'cause they're fun.

I agree with you: Robinson was entertaining and I basically agree with him, but he was very light on solutions.

The Montessori method, for example, looks great for grade school age, but I'm not entirely sure how to translate it to adults where there's more formal and rigid requirements. The biggest problem is probably the limited time and competing priorities adult students have; they don't [feel they] have time to explore and wander.

But presenting students with ideas and options for them to find connections to their interests sounds like a great goal. Alas, the best connections may be unique to each student and exceedingly hard to come up with. But there probably are some commonalities -- in culture, perhaps movies or politics, or music or food, or morality or family -- that could be related to their lives and interests.

Applying the learning techniques to teaching might work... at least to make them more readily apparent and explorable by the students. e.g. Maybe you could come up with some optional mnemonic devices or games or songs or goofy dances (eh? EH? I have some of those burned into my brain :)) to aid recall of key facts. If direct interest doesn't exist, maybe indirect will work.

Beyond that, perhaps you could give the problem to your students -- for each topic, what mnemonic devices, analogies, associations, applications, or personal connections can they come up with that interests them? What do they find interesting about a particular event or context? From a free association / Rorshach perspective, what comes to mind? If they're willing, maybe the students can even take turns explaining it to the class by playing 20 questions or something.

That might get you some feedback and material for the future -- though, probably along with a lot of crap. :) I'd guess their ideas would have a very low signal to noise ratio, but you might notice overlap or gather some gems over time; and at least you'll be encouraging them to explicitly look for connections to their interests.

I'm sure you've given this a lot more thought than I have, so please take my naive and abstract ideas with a hefty if not unwieldy grain of salt. But it's fun to think about. You should write some posts on teaching and what has worked for you and what hasn't. I'd love to learn vicariously through your practical experiences. :)