A common question I get when I talk about record-keeping is “what system should I use?” Well, to know me is to know that’s a tough question for me to answer. I don’t know what you want to track, I am not sure how techy you are and I am not a very good “guru” when it comes to saying THIS WAY is the RIGHT WAY. (Except being kind and positive … which probably also goes without saying)
The easiest of all systems for me to review right now is Trello as the amazing and talented Jessica Hekman wrote a great review that outlines her use of the program over on the FDSA blog. Check it out. What Trello excels at is organizing layers of information in straightforward ways. If your training and records are diverse this may be a very useful tool for you to experiment with. If they are simple it is probably also a decent starting point.
Asana is another well-known project management tool. I have used it but not extensively for dog training. One feature I particularly like is the team nature of the program. It’s terrific for things like planning an event or a demonstration. People who love it really really love it! It is a little less intuitive to use and people find it trickier – so if tech isn’t your thing you may want to start with Trello.
Equilab is an app I have been using for about 5 months. It’s designed to provide records for rides and I am quite sure being a horse person has made it easier for me to adapt the app to my canine record needs too. I intuitively can record a session as “dressage” if I spent a lot of time nerding out about details for example. I like it for the ease it gives me in quickly seeing how many horses and dogs I have worked on any given day and how much work any individual is getting. I can see holes and blips easily with this app and, for me, is my current favourite.
Notion has been recommended to me a couple of times but I have not used it at all yet. It is pitched as a way to integrate lists and databases. People who like Evernote but want to be able to do a little more seem to particularly like Notion.
Which leads us nicely to Evernote. Evernote catches information easily and is also a handy daily journal. If you like journaling but have moved away from pen and paper you may like Evernote as a transitional move to technology-based record keeping.
Google has so many options that are useful to record keeping. Google Docs (word processing), Google Keep (lists) and Google Calendar all leap to my mind when considering what to discuss here. Docs give you a way to online journal – and easily cross devices – a quick note from your phone at class can become a more complex and detailed note when you have time to add reflection and goals later in the week. Google Keep can help organize priority lists and manage tasks.
The Calendar is a way to catch simple information – it’s a place to easily note a simple scale (+, -) or a more complex one after training. ( A paper calendar is a low tech method of very simple record keeping too).
Facebook is a system many people use to create some accountability and hold information. Photos, notes and/or videos are easily uploaded into small ( as few as 2 people) or large closed or public groups. One issue with groups is it can be difficult to see your information sequentially. One benefit is the range of ways you can catch a session.
YouTube is another straightforward way to contain your video records of training sessions. You can set each video to unlisted, private or public as suits you best.
This quick overview is no replacement for testing and experimenting with the various tech methods of catching and containing information. There is nothing at all wrong with using pen and paper methods if they suit you better. Don’t forget it’s important to take action; imperfect action trumps perfect inaction after all! (If you have comments about any of these systems – or a great one I missed – I’d love to know about it! Please share in the comments.)