A lot of people have asked me how I seemingly manage to do a lot of things and stay relatively organized with very little apparent free time. What, you mean jobs, kids and husbands take time?! Why did no one tell me…. I’d like to tell you it’s an art and then teach you a class on how you too can achieve this balance, but it’s really a personalized science. A science where for me the test tubes boil over more often than not, every now and again we completely forget one of our lab specimens out in the sun and we can not for the life of us figure out the accompanying math.
So what is this science then – the science of keeping a handful of balls in the air at all times and being somewhat organized while doing it? Well, for me, it’s being insanely, obsessively and borderline compulsively consumed with the need to write everything that needs to happen down. If it’s not written down, chances are I’m not doing it.
Organized Tip #1: Find What Works for You
The first thing I learned was that having things in digital calendars didn’t work that well for me. It was too easy to dismiss an alarm when half-asleep and completely miss getting out of bed (true story) and too complicated between my office calendar which is stuck in a program from 1985 to collaborate with my personal calendar on the ever-evolving cloud. So every year, I buy myself a new organizer. I’ve tried them all – the fancy day designer, the gorgeous Smythson – but the best one for me is the Moleskine edition broken down by week. There is a large page to write down activities by the day, and then one free page to make notes to stay organized. And make notes I do.
Organized Tip #2: List out EVERYTHING
In the calendar section, I write down things like where I physically have to be like “Meeting in office at 3pm” or “Dentist at 10am”. I write down things that have due dates on a specific day, like making sure I mail out packages by mailing deadlines or airline flight details. Then on the page next to it, I write out all of the things I have to do that very week and make check boxes alongside them. I write down everything and anything I have to do because I find it wildly satisfying to mark something off a list, and it motivates me to push myself to do them. What kinds of things? EVERYTHING. Here are some of the examples from the last couple of weeks:
- Order new checks for bank account
- Organize pens in office bins
- Finish presentation for office training seminar
- Find mini flower pots for hyacinths
- Buy Paige Martine Slub Sweater (Hey, I never said they were all no fun!)
- Find material for glider chair
- Create new ad codes for Network Site
- WP Aggregator Plugin Research
- Mail letter to mom
- Renew dog licence
- Package up return to Amazon
By listing down everything, I get to mark off things as I go. It also means I can combine my work (real job), work (Media Company job) and personal life in a way that works for me. This way I also don’t forget anything and if I really can’t complete it that week, I make a note of it and move it to the following week. Dropping off my paperwork at the local police precinct to be a volunteer in the community was carried along on my weekly to-do lists last year for close to 2 months. But I never forgot and when I finally made the trip to drop it off, I could have cried with relief to not have to move it forward week by week anymore. Great lesson in just getting things done so you can move on.
Organized Tip #3: Give Yourself a Break
Is my method perfect? Nope. I often don’t like to put things in if I don’t have all the details (I’d have to scribble out the date? Do you know how messy that would get?!) but am working on finding ways to cope with my inner perfectionist so that I can be as effective with my time as possible to leave me more time for the things I love to do. Oh, and yes, this blog post was a checklist item. And ✓ , it’s done!