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Jake Lee on Using Dipity to Chronicle Personal and Professional Milestones

I am Jake Lee and it’s time to get organized! I know that many of us say that each new year, and then clean out a closet or read Getting Things Done and check off the resolution for another year. My personal challenge is not around organizing THINGS. My recycling is sorted, my spices alphabetized, my tax receipts categorized. Where I fall short is in the organization of memories and milestones and project events.

I used to keep a leather book filled not only with appointments but also notes in the margins, reminders, and the occasionally clipping from my local (now defunct) newspaper. Once digital options became available, I quickly turned to them and haven’t looked back. But, finding the right product for me has been a frustrating process.

Lessons Learned:

I tried Twitter – adding a note each time I did something that I might want to know at the end of the year. But the 140 character limit was too short, the archive too spotty, and I couldn’t go back and edit or add.

I tried a Blog – David Fetterman wrote on aea365 back in April that keeping a project blog was “particularly helpful at the end of the year when you are trying to construct the annual report.” This, in effect, was what I was hoping to be able to do – draw on the records to construct a report or remember an event or even just compile the Christmas letter to my dear Aunt Phylly. But, it was difficult to see the big picture with a blog, to get a sense for the connections between items over time, and I felt obligated to write more than I really wanted with each entry.

I tried Google Calendar and a number of other calendaring tools – These were the closest to my old appointment book, and had the added benefit of sending me reminders. I still maintain a calendar, but I find that it gets cluttered. It has too much to retain for historical purposes. I want to chronicle personal milestones and professional work products, not dentist appointments and dry cleaning pickups.

Hot Tip – Try Dipity or a Timeline Maker of Your Choice: For 2013, I am trying out using a timeline tool as a chronicle for the year. I have chosen Dipity because it is free, entries are searchable, I can add pictures and links, the visual organization appeals to me, and I can return and update or delete items.

Rad Resource Compare Timeline Tools: The Institute for Public History in Belgium has a very useful timeline tool comparison chart supplemented by a blog post providing narrative depth to the comparisons.

Get Involved: Have you tried to chronicle your projects or personal milestones? What has worked and what has not?

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

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