Peek at the Week: Using Google to the Max

Dec 14, 2022

In one of my year-long Together Leader courses, we got deep on weekly planning and the power of Google last week. I mean, we went full on nerd-fest with a group of school leaders in rural Idaho, complete with screen sharing and deeply pondering how using technology can help serve a larger purpose – staying focused on what matters. Two school leaders, Heather and Geoff, were kind enough to share a few tech tips, and I’m excited to share them with you.

Get Sortd

We are longtime fans of Trello over here (especially for digital folks who like a visual), so imagine my delight when Heather showed us THIS. It’s a brilliant email-plus-calendar-planning tool. As you can see, on the left is her usual Gmail, but check out the dated columns to the right. There are multiple views available, but Heather notes this is where she lives the most during the workday.

Heather tells us a bit more about her usage of this tool. She says the following:

  • Sortd is great for turning your emails into a task, listing your priorities for the week in categories that make sense to you, and adding items you will need to address in the future, but don’t want to keep in your inbox.
  • Weekly, I review my Sortd categories, add due dates to cards, check off the items I have completed, and take note of the cards I keep moving to a new date. These cards are likely something I could delegate or just not do!
  • You can add colors to cards if you want to sort tasks into like areas and do batch work sessions. For example, marketing cards are blue and I can dedicate an hour to “marketing tasks” and easily find those tasks by looking for blue cards.


Heather uses Sortd to keep track of tasks

Heather shows us a few more ways to view her tasks, using David Allen’s common categories, such as To-do, Follow-Up, and Waiting For.

What I appreciate about Sortd, a simple Chrome extension, is that it is a way to keep you in one singular universe without having to use additional apps or tools. Is anyone else excited to test this? If you have a lot of work that is generated from your inbox, Sortd could be the way to go.

Now, of course, many of us use our Google calendars regularly, but how much does that calendar really tell us about what matters the most? Well, Geoff is here to give a bit of insight using Google Insights.

Geoff, an elementary school principal, kindly gives us a view into his thinking about color-coding and labeling the categories on his calendar. He says:

  • Green signifies “coaching, ” and generally gets top priority.
    • My top goal (as shown on my weekly worksheet) is to observe and provide constructive feedback to two teachers a day.
  • Lavender signifies general “duties” such as drop off, pick up, and lunch recess duty.
    • Though they are not the most exciting parts of my day, they are essential and must be covered by someone.
    • Also, they are high visibility activities which are generally good for people to see me doing.
  • Dark grey signifies “admin duties” which are similar to general duties with the main difference being that they can only be covered by an administrator.
    • I include checking my email and processing behavioral referrals in these duties
    • I also include interviews in this.
  • Red/Orange signifies IEP/504 meetings.
    • I am mainly interested in collecting data of how much time I spend in IEP/504 meetings.
  • Red signifies parent meetings
    • Again, I simply want to track the amount of time I am meeting with parents.

Geoff, an admitted Trello fanboy, but also maximizing his Google life

Geoff showed our entire class how to add Labels to the Google calendar, thus allowing Geoff to track where his most precious resource – his time — is going and allowing him to stay focused on what matters most. What could Geoff do with these insights? Much like with any tracking data, they could be used in a few ways:

  • Allow him to analyze and make shifts accordingly for the following week
  • Share with teammates and ask for help or delegation
  • Note any areas he wants to dial up or down
  • Be purely focused on what he is doing when he is doing it

What about you all? Any other ways you are using Google tools to support your Togetherness?