Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Installing Software for Law School, Part II

Aside from taking notes, the other important thing I need my laptop to do for me is help me keep track of what I need to be doing for my classes, for any other activities I get involved in, and also to take care of myself and my family. So, a good task management program and calendar is essential. And, for me at least, I think that task management is more important than a calendar. I may change my mind about this once school starts and I have a lot more things going on, but I feel like a program that helps me be productive during my unscheduled time is more important than a program that keeps track of my scheduled events. So these are the programs I have installed to help me manage my time:

Life Balance -- This is a great task management program which is available for Windows, Mac, and Palm. It is not cheap, but I haven't found anything else that has the features that this program has. The program allows you to break your goals down into tasks and sub-tasks, and sub-sub-tasks, ad infinitum. It allows you to specify whether tasks must be completed in order -- i.e. if one of your tasks is to write a paper, you might break it down into "pick a topic," "do research" and "write an outline," etc, and then specify that those tasks must be done in order, so that the program doesn't tell you to write an outline before you have even picked your topic. It lets you specify places for your tasks and even specify hours that those places are open -- so if one of your tasks is to go to the bank that task will only come up when the bank is open and you could actually go there. You can specify whether each task is a one time thing, something that has to be done by a due date, something that has to be done at a certain time (an appointment), or something that has to be done routinely (like once a week) and then you can set how much lead time you need for each task so that the program can start reminding you to do your task in time for you to get it done. You can probably tell I really like this program -- I haven't even mentioned the balancing part of Life Balance, but you can find out about that on their website.

Rainlendar -- Although Life Balance can keep track of appointments, that is not really what it is best at, so I do need some kind of calendar program. I chose Rainlendar because it is a great little program that I can keep open on my desktop all the time that provides a visual representation of the events on my calendar, and because it is free. It looks like a gadget, and I wish it were because I keep it on the right side where the windows sidebar is and sometimes the sidebar interferes with me being able to click on it. Anyway, I love the little icons and the way the days can be displayed in different colors depending on what type of things are going on that day. Also, it is pretty easy to customize the display -- I took the skin it came with and changed it just a little to be more appropriate for me (i.e. less business categories, more school categories). Rainlendar uses standard iCalendar format, can display multiple calendars, and, if you buy the pro version, can display online calendars and Outlook appointments.

1 comment:

PT-LawMom said...

Great tips! I'm definitely going to check out Life Balance.