New Student Tip #2: Wunderlist

Most students can get through High School without a To-Do list. Maybe they write a few things down on their hand or enter a couple of reminders on their phone when exam times come round. But they generally get by with just keeping things in their head.

If you try that at college you’ll soon go off your head or lose your head. Assignments, projects, exams, meetings, lectures, seminars and sports schedules come thick and fast and soon you are either missing important appointments and deadlines or else you are just scraping by, but your stress levels are soaring. You’re in that constant frazzled state of “Did I remember everything?” “Have I forgotten something?”

So you start writing things down on a card, a notebook, your phone or your computer.

But then the challenges multiply further. How do you set reminders? How do you prioritize? How do you separate long-term projects from short-term actions? How do you gather multiple To-Do’s under one project? How do I distinguish college To-Do’s from home To-Do’s? How do I make sure I’ve got my list with me when and where I want it? How do I share To-Do lists with my family, friends, or colleagues?

Well, I’ve tried just about every To-Do system under the sun. Some, like OmniFocus are so complicated that you almost need to go to college to learn it. Others are so simple they end up being too simple; they just don’t have the capacity or the flexibility you need as life grows more complicated.

My personal favorite, which I’ve been using for about six months now, is Wunderlist.

Wunderlist

I find that it’s complex enough to handle every project I’m involved in and simple enough to handle basic things like shopping lists. And before I get to the benefits, the great news is that like DropboxWunderlist also is free! So what do you get?

  • Easy-to-use interface across all platforms.
  • Use on Desktop, Tablet, or Smartphone.
  • Change list on one device and it automatically syncs in real time to all the others too.
  • Set due dates with visual and audible reminders.
  • Create different To-Do lists for different areas of your life (home, college, church, finances, etc).
  • Set priorities so that urgent tasks are gathered from each list in one place.
  • Select “Today” for all tasks due today.
  • Add notes to tasks.
  • Share lists and collaborate with friends, family, and colleagues.

Visit Wunderlist here or watch the video here. Also visit my Top 10 Books for Students here.

Other Resources

New Student Tip #1: Dropbox

Thriving at College by Alex Chediak (for students)

Preparing Your Teens For College by Alex Chediak (for parents of students)

Top 10 Books for Students


New Student Tip #1: Dropbox

My eldest son started college yesterday. As part of his preparation for this step, I gave him Thriving at College a while back and he’s enjoyed and benefited from reading it.

But now that he’s actually started, I see the need for some really down-to-earth, step-by-step practical advice. So I thought I’d run a brief series of posts that contain the kind of tips I wish someone had given me when I started further education.

dropbox

The first tip I’d give new students is to install Dropbox on their computers. Why? Because it’s a free service that automatically stores and backs up your files and pictures in the cloud, making it easy to access them anywhere on any device, share them with anyone, and recover them if accidentally deleted from your computer.

That means you’ll never be frustrated that you left files on your computer miles away back at home or in college. You won’t have to email huge files, photos, and videos anymore – simply share files and folders via Dropbox. And you’ll never have that sick feeling in your stomach that your final thesis or project is irrecoverably lost on your crashed hard drive. So what does Dropbox offer in detail?

  • 2 GB Storage: Dropbox offers free cloud storage up to 2 GB, which should be more than enough for most students.
  • Desktop or Online: Dropbox can either be installed on your computer or accessed via your browser.
  • Backup: Documents saved to your Dropbox are automatically saved in the cloud providing you with backup should you lose your files or computer.
  • Syncing: Dropbox syncs your files with any other computer or mobile device running Dropbox.
  • Cross-platform: Dropbox gives you access to all your files via your computer, phone, tablet, or any other computer with internet access.
  • History: Dropbox maintains a one month history of your work so that you can revert to previous versions of documents.
  • Mobile photos: Dropbox allows you to automatically upload photos and videos to the cloud from your phone or iPad.
  • Photo-sharing: Dropbox offers Carousel, a neat photo-sharing service for mobile devices that enables easy sharing of single photos or galleries with anyone you choose
  • File/Folder Sharing: Dropbox allows you to share files and folders with others via email using simple privacy and share settings.
  • Simple: Dropbox is easy to install and manage.
  • Free: Did I mention, Dropbox is free!

Storage, syncing, sharing, security, and simplicity. What more do you need? It’s saved my life a few times!

Visit Dropbox to sign up today or take the tour to find out more.

Other Resources

New Student Tip #2: Wunderlist

Thriving at College by Alex Chediak (for students)

Preparing Your Teens For College by Alex Chediak (for parents of students)

Top 10 Books for Students


What I Wish I’d Been Taught In School

My high school years were pretty disastrous – not just academically but morally and spiritually too. As I look back, I take a large part of the blame for that; I made so many wrong and foolish decisions about friends, money, relationships, media, and entertainment. I ended up leaving school one year early, and it wasn’t until my early twenties, after I was converted, that education became so important to me. A late starter, you might say.

However, I believe I can honestly say that the education system was partly to blame for my 12 year educational wilderness – with one or two exceptions, the subjects, the teachers, and the style of teaching were just so utterly boring and totally impractical.

When I look back, I can hardly believe what we wasted our time upon:

  • English books that seemed to have been chosen for maximum profanity and obscurity
  • Math teachers waffling on about weird things like sine, cos, and tan but nothing about money and personal finance
  • History courses that delved deep into a couple of insignificant events (Skara Brae anyone) but didn’t touch either of the Great Wars and gave no sense at all of an overall timeline of history.
  • Geography that studied the clouds and river bends but left us without a clue about where different countries (even our own) were located on the globe.
  • Science that was big on dry theory and tiny on the wonder of the world on the micro or macro levels.
  • Music classes where the most music we were allowed to make was with a triangle.

But what annoys me even more than what we did spend time on is what we DIDN’T spend time on. I spent thousands of hours in school and yet never learned:

Personal finance: Not even the basics of saving, mortgages, budgeting, life assurance, pensions, etc.

Time management: Not one lesson on how to plan a weekly calendar, or how to assign different work for different sized time blocks, or what times are best for what work, etc.

Organization: Filing, office management, To-do lists, and so on.

Study techniques: Not one lesson or note-taking or preparing for exams.

Public speaking: Never gave one speech in my whole school career. Never had any coaching on communication skills or making a presentation.

Reading: We were weighed down with plenty books but given no idea how to read efficiently and retentively.

Leadership: Taking initiative, delegation, mentoring, chairing meetings, were all completely untouched.

Conflict resolution: How to prevent conflicts, how to manage them, how to negotiate, how to compromise, how to confront wrong, how to reconcile? Not a clue on any of these.

Mental health: Nothing, absolutely nothing on danger signs to look out for in oneself and others, how to take preventative action, or how to recover from major crises, losses, and disappointments. I’d like to see CBT taught in every school.

Basic Housekeeping: Just the basics of how to paint, wire a plug, change a wheel, saw in a straight line, etc.

Personal Fitness: I stand in front of these machines in the gym and haven’t the first idea what to do with them. I’m still not sure I could tell you where my biceps are (or if I have any at all).

Teaching: How to teach!

When I left school, the cutting edge of technology was the Sinclair ZX81. I believe things have moved on a bit since then, making the world slightly more complicated. So today I’d also want multiple lessons on digital health.

I think things have improved somewhat in some schools over the years, but there are still huge gaps of basic practical living and vocational skills that no amount of algebra, physics, history, and psychology can make up for.

With all the inertia, vested interests, and stagnant thinking in the educational system, I know it will probably take another 40-50 years to see a more practical and useful curriculum containing some of these subjects. However, it would be great if our more passionate and innovative teachers would try to work some of these things into existing curricula.

You might end up with less people like me.

What subjects do you wish were taught at school? What subjects would you drop or reduce?


Driscoll’s Ministry Coach on Leaders Who Last


A few years ago I read and reviewed Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft, a professional ministry coach who helped bring Mark Driscoll through a past crisis of leadership. So grateful was Driscoll that he wrote the foreword to Kraft’s book, including the words:

Pastor Dave Kraft…brought me through a formal coaching process and helped me get my life and ministry in better order. He gave me permission to make some very difficult decisions for the well-being of my family and our church. He wanted me to be one of the leaders who last…Sadly, too few Christian leaders finish well and a combination of grace and wisdom cannot be overvalued. You will find both in this book.

The motivation of Kraft’s book is that “so many leaders are not doing well and are ending up shipwrecked.” He quotes statistics that show only 30% of leaders finish well. Kraft’s premise “is that you can learn how to be a good leader and finish your particular leadership race well.”

Definition of Christian Leadership
There are many good chapters in this book, but two areas stood out for me, the first being Kraft’s definition of Christian leadership:

A Christian leader is a humble, God-dependent, team-playing servant of God who is called by God to shepherd, develop, equip, and empower a specific group of believers to accomplish an agreed-upon vision from God.

The Leader’s Character
The second was Chapter 8: The Leader’s Character, which includes the following challenging quotes:

“The greatest crisis in the world today is a crisis of leadership, and the greatest crisis in leadership is a crisis of character” (Howard Hendricks).

“In many quarters there seems to be a tendency to overlook a lack of character in one’s person and private life in exchange for a high degree of success in one’s professional life.”

“Most leaders focus too much on competence and too little on character.”

“Ninety-nine per cent of leadership failures are failures of character” (General Norman Schwarzkopf)

“Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are” (John Wooden).

“The three critical factors for success are: (1) Character in your person (2) Caring in your relationships (3) Competence in your endeavors. But by far the most important is character.”

“Men of genius are admired. Men of wealth are envied. Men of power are feared, but only men of character are trusted” (Arthur Friedman).

“Character development is not a short-term project, but a lifelong pursuit.”

Practical Application
The chapter concludes with a list of character traits: Gentleness, Tactfulness, Thankfulness, Trust, Humility, Transparency, Patience, Vulnerability, Compassion, Affirmation, Forgiveness, Dependability, Honesty, Encouragement, Self-control.

Kraft then suggests four ways to use the list, which if we really believed 1 Corinthians 10:12, we’d all get serious about today.

  1. Rank how you are doing on each descriptive quality. Use a scale from one to five (one being poor, five being excellent)
  2. Pick one or two areas where you know God wants you to do something in your life.
  3. Write down what you can and will do to experience growth in that area.
  4. Choose a person to whom you will make yourself accountable.