Tools of the Trade

Now that you’re settled into the school year, you’ve started setting (and keeping!) job search goals, and you’re feeling like a rock star – how about some tools and technology to help keep you on track? Whether you’re a technology whiz or still like the old-school paper technique, it’s important to use some way to keep track of everything you’ve got going on right now, especially if you’re working while you consider a more long-term career change or have significant commitments on your calendar already.

Here’s a round-up of some of the tools I’ve personally found to be helpful: – this free app (for iPhone and Android) is a to-do list/task manager. The interface is very simple and easy to use, with tasks divided into Today, Tomorrow, Upcoming, and Someday. You can sort by folder, add reminders, make notes, and more. I sometimes use this to break a large task into smaller parts, then assign a due date for each part; it keeps me from being overwhelmed by big projects and focused on things I can realistically get done in a day.

Evernote – This app is always written up for being a fantastic organizing tool, with its ability to handle text, voice notes, links, multimedia, and so on. I use it as a parking lot for all the great ideas, things to look up, etc. that don’t actually belong on my daily task list (for instance, a running list of books I’d like to read, which I can easily check when I’m at the library).

HabitStreak – My virtual conscience. This app pops up a reminder window each morning and asks whether I’ve completed a particular habit; for instance, “Did you take the dog for a walk?” Answer Yes or No each day, and HabitStreak will keep track of how you’re doing at establishing a daily habit. Task:Life is a companion app that helps track items over time which you may not do every day (e.g., going to the gym four times per week).

Pocket – this nifty addition to your favorite Web browser lets you put websites, articles, and links “in your pocket” to look at later. This is fantastic for companies or job leads that you want to check out later, marking job search articles you want to refer to, and otherwise keeping track of the sometimes-overwhelming flood of information job seekers may be faced with.

Are you a paper-and pencil kind of person?  Stephanie O’Dea ‘s Totally Together planner is a calendar and to-do list all in one. While many of the tips in the book may be things you’re already doing, the weekly checklist of household-related tasks can be a great way to keep from getting overwhelmed by all the things you have to do in addition to your job search.

These are some of my favorite tools for keeping organized. I’d love to hear what you’re using – please share in the comments!



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