Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chapter 4 - Thought Catchers

Heaven knows we need to catch and organize our thoughts! Maia describes "thought catchers" as basically a simple note-taking system where you divide a paper into 4 squares (like a 4-square writing model). You reserve each of these squares for a different person/topic/to-do. She describes situations where you may hurriedly launch e-mails to someone and forget half of what you wanted to tell them and have to spend even more time re-emailing them....dividing your thoughts and time. Makes sense to me! I have done that wayyyy more than once! She suggests that you keep one of these note-taking papers with you and jot notes to yourself down during the day, give yourself time to process those thoughts, and organize them into 1 e-mail or meeting. Thus saving many trips back and forth or many e-mails. She also suggests that this type of note-taking can be very helpful in PD or faculty meetings. Sort of a way to follow up on ideas that many times get lost in a paperwork mess or trashed. "Thought Catchers" can also be helpful for jotting down future ideas or ideas to adjust for the next time you teach that lesson.  Again, there are many ways to capture these thoughts...
  1. Paper notes...like I described before. This would be a simple sheet of paper divided into 4 sections. You could make a template on MS Word (Maia has several examples on her accompanying CD).
  2. Electronic Notes...Programs such as Outlook or Tasks....which sync easily to Smartphones/Computers.
  3. Web-Based...programs on your computer such as Sticky Notes.
A few general tips for making "Thought Catchers" work for you:

  • Thought Catchers should NOT be time sensitive.  Time sensitive things should go straight to your Comprehensive Calendar or your Up-coming To-Do List.
  • They need a trigger.  This means that you should make it so that when you re-read the thought catcher you are immediately reminded of the task.
  • Thought catchers should occur before an e-mail.  Gather all your thoughts together and give yourself time to review before sending that e-mail. (Rather than having to ammend the original one or sending a totally new one).
  • Take advantage of any extra minutes in your day. (I personally don't know who has these...) I try to make the most of my time, but I do realize there are ways I could streamline things I do.  This book is really helping me identify those!....Thanks, Maia!
Maia ends this chapter by saying "Thought catchers can free up brain space"! An who doesn't need that?????  I look forward to getting into the next chapter with you guys!