One Busy Teacher: Two Apps & A Book, for Efficiency & SANITY!

The endless problem of work-life-balance…
Naomi’s Photos

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that there is such a thing as having too many “helpful” apps.

It’s inefficient.

I’m not counting apps like ones that tell you when the next bus arrives, let you make an appointment for your doctor, record the names of students who are absent or pay for parking.

Such apps are only used when they must be used and are otherwise ignored. There is absolutely no need to spend a lot of time configuring them and interacting with them.

Leave space!
Naomi’s Photos

I’m talking about the apps that will help you organize your life, provide alternative calendars, remember things, improve your diet, make sure you get enough exercise,  teach you mindfulness and bring joy to your life.

I’m not against these apps in any way – some are really good (and I most certainly haven’t tried them all!).

However, to do whatever it is they do, these apps need you to interact with them.  That takes time and energy (particularly if you use each one for only one purpose). Those are precious commodities particularly as lack of time and sufficient energy for the ongoing “work-life- balancing act” are what prompted installing the apps in the first place!

Therefore, in recent months I’ve been concentrating on the two free apps I’ve been using that complement each other, along with taking advantage of more of their features. In addition, I’ve found a book that does what an app won’t do for me.

It’s raining tasks!
Naomi’s Photos


Evernote – This app serves as my memory aid. It’s a sophisticated note-taking app with a search engine. When I get a text message from a teacher (as part of my counseling job) during a 10-minute break between classes that I teach, I can look up the code number of the exam she asked for quickly. When I get to the mall I can show the salesperson the picture of the exact ink cartridge we use for our printer – I added the picture directly to the app. Most of my recipes are stored on Evernote, with the handy web-clipper.

Toodledo – I use the free version of this app as my task manager and to keep checklists for repeated tasks (things related to school that I do several times a year, lists for trips and my exercise “homework” for the week).  My absolute favorite feature is adding a location to a task. When I get to school in the morning it reminds me of school-related tasks. Unless I specifically want to, I don’t see tasks I can only do at home.  When I’m home, I don’t need to be reminded of tests that must be photocopied! The app can also help you track habits, but I’m not using that feature at this time (see next section!).

Naomi’s Photos


I certainly feel a need to develop mindfulness. How can I be truly efficient if I’m doing one thing, thinking of 10 other things and then having to redo something due to the distraction?!!

And how about just being more relaxed?  Thankfully, life is good, but having two jobs, being a wife, a mom, and a daughter, trying to exercise more and spend time on my hobbies can get rather overwhelming.

Using an app to learn mindfulness doesn’t seem right. At least not for me.

Being mindful, at least the way I understand it to be, encourages spending some time “unplugged”, away from the stimulating tech. It bothers me to report to a device how mindful I’ve been.

And that’s just it. How do I measure exactly how mindful I’ve been? What if I’ve only don’t part of the suggested activity? Or didn’t really succeed as expected? Will it result in “breaking” the daisy chain or cause my imaginary tree to shrivel instead of thriving?

So stressful.

Like another task to add to my day.

The free downloadable book “30 ways to Mindfulness” by Rachael Roberts doesn’t add stress to my life.

Roberts is an EFL teacher, she understands how to write for teachers. Her tone is gentle, understanding and encouraging. There is an introduction and then a daily thing to try / to think about for 30 days.

Each evening I read only the part that relates to the next day. This is not a book to be read in one sitting!

Best of all, it’s a book.

I don’t report to it and it doesn’t judge me. I don’t have to measure how well I dealt with the tasks.

Some I haven’t done, others I’ve only partially done. A few suggestions I’ve been able to incorporate immediately. But I’ve thought about every single task/suggestion.

I think that’s worthwhile too. It feels that way.

I might start the book all over again when I’ve reached “Day 30”. Almost there!

One of my favorite blog posts by Rachael Roberts is “Managing to be mindful at work” (especially the last bit!). If you are interested in the free e-book, you will find info on that on the blog as well.


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