I’m the queen of sticky notes, note pads, and doodles. I collect colorful pens and pretty notebooks. I have a collection of writing utensils that would put Office Depot to shame. I enjoy taking notes, color coding note sections based on importance, topic or date, and drawing tiny pictures around my notes while contemplating ways to solve complex problems. This can lead to unfortunate clutter all over my workspace as you can see below.
Over the course of my life, I learned that notes help me retain necessary information by forcing me to pay attention to the topic at hand. They serve as reminders for upcoming tasks or hold my to-do lists for the day. Using color makes this an even more effect practice. Whenever the Senior Web Dev fellow at Center Centre conveys another piece of sage advice, I write it down on one of my colorful sticky notes. Since he quite often has great ideas, my desk holds mountains of Shayne quotes and it’s getting out of hand.
A New App Appears:
Recently, Apple released a new white-boarding application named FreeForm. Similar to Miro or Freehand, it allows the user to lay out content on a flexible canvas and collaborate with others on boards.
FreeForm allows for several ways input content. You can use a stylus or your finger to write on the board using several brush styles or color options. It allows for dragging and dropping content across the board and includes fully customizable shapes from a shape library. It has sticky notes and supports a wide range of files, including photos, video, audio, documents, PDFs, links to websites and map location links. And best of all, I can access it via any of my Apple products, including my MacBook, iPad, and iPhone.
I knew this app might be the the solution to my clutter problem.
At the beginning of my fellowship at Center Centre, my team lead suggested I begin keeping a Career Management Document to track my accomplishments and experiences during the fellowship. I decided to take it one step further and incorporate FreeForm into this practice. Instead of adding to my CMD daily, I would write my thoughts down on sticky notes in my app. At the end of the week, I would copy the information from my FreeForm app to my CMD and elaborate on each experience, skill, or thought.
One of the insightful pieces of advice my Senior Dev Fellow gave me when I started was to write down what kinds of projects I wanted to have on my resume once my six months with Center Centre ended. In my FreeForm app, I created a section for projects and narrowed them down to five types:
- Front End
- Back End
- Dev Ops
Whenever an opportunity arises for a possible project, I add it to my list. Then, I work with my team to determine which projects are feasible and how they can best serve me and Center Centre.
Along with keeping track of experiences, skills, and projects, I keep my to-do lists organized by date, week, and long-term goals. I draw doodles or add pictures to my board to keep it interesting. I use my stylus to write the titles of sections or draw arrows between ideas. I’ve even added pictures of my family throughout the board.
After three weeks of using the app daily, my desk still gets pretty cluttered, but my thoughts and ideas are organized. I’m able to quickly access my boards from any of my devices and make updates quickly whenever I need. There are still some bugs Apple will need to fix like the stylus writing not appearing clearly across all boards, but I foresee that as not-too-far-off fix. For now, I will continue to use FreeForm to declutter my life and continue to work towards the short and long-term goals I’ve set for myself during this Center Centre fellowship.