I thought I’d share a few of the way’s I’ve made my life more efficient ie. how I’ve started to master “adulting” per today’s slang. In the past few weeks I’ve had a couple close friends and coworkers comment on the way I organize my day/work/hobbies etc. At the root of this is growing up observing my Mother. She is probably only the second only to Martha Stewart or Stephen Covey when it comes to being organized.
Without further expounding here’s a glimpse into how I attempt to stay organized/efficient.
- Schedule: I’ve tried the Franklin planner route, it’s a beautiful tool, but it just doesn’t work for me. I use my digital calendar for all appointments and then have this handy little list maker for high level to-do’s for the week. Any really minor “to-do’s” are either done immediately or entered as a reminder in my phone or computer to pop up at a specific location/time.
- Agendas: The second I schedule a meeting that I know I’m going to lead, or I called together, I start an agenda. Even if it’s just one thing. Then I keep that document open in the days leading up to the meeting so I can update it as thoughts pop into my head.
- Reminders: When sending out an email, or responding to one, that I know I’ll need to follow up on in the coming days I immediately flag it with a date 1, 3 or 5 days in the future (depending on urgency). This flag will include a quick note reminding me what the end goal was – because when you have any where between 3 and 10 reminders popping up in a day you can’t be vague if you want to stay productive.
- Email: Ok I’m not as hard core as I should be about this but I do have the sound turned off on my work email so that I’m not distracted by pinging or notifications of every unread message. I check email first thing in the morning when I get to work. Respond to anything urgent, if I’ve received requests/assignments I work them into my schedule for that day or the following days. When you’re done with an email FILE IT AWAY. I have been lucky enough that in the past six months at the end of the week I can get my in-box to near zero. Because of my reminder system I don’t just have emails in my in-box stacked up as “reminders”. Imagine if you had that many opened letters just sitting on your desk…that’s what a cluttered in-box is. File that mess away!
- Meetings: I have a meeting notebook, this is the keeper of all things. This is where I write down the details of projects, who’s responsible for what and ideas, thoughts, outcomes of discussions. From here I break down my to-do’s either into my schedule/to-do list or into a reminder for a later date. I also have tabs that move as I fill the notebook, one for each of my team mates, one for my 1:1’s with my boss, one for large projects and one for misc. items. As I start to move through the book I rip out pages that are still active that may be disconnected from where I am currently in the notebook, then I either scan them into the project folder on my computer or I add them into the file. YES I still keep actual paper files.
- Meeting Prep: Two days before the meeting I print out everything I need for it. Agenda, supporting documents etc. Yes occasionally I have to reprint an agenda but it’s worth it to know I’m set to go and it keeps me from having that panicked moment 5 minutes before the meeting when the printer magically decides it’s going into a coma.
- Daily Routine: I get in take 5-10 minutes to get my coffee and pick my morning playlist on Spotify then I review my to-do’s for the day. Then check email, I take care of any burning needs ASAP and then move on to eating that frog (i.e. tackling that thing you REALLY don’t want to do/think is too big or imposing.) I try to chunk out my work into 1.5 to 2 hours worth of work with small breaks for email or a lap around the office in between. I then repeat, until to-do’s are accomplished or the work day is done. I also am sure not to over load my day. Not EVERYTHING needs to be done immediately, figure out what the priorities are for that day and move forward.
- Move up Deadlines: I’m in marketing and work closely with our graphics and printing arm of the company so deadlines are a thing, they’re real and if you miss them you could jeopardize the project. So I cheat all my deadlines up by 3 to 5 days, depending. This allows for those things you can’t schedule, like the team not being able to provide feedback quickly or someone being out of the office for a personal reason. Why open yourself up to possible stress when you can minimize it instead right from the beginning?
- Reminders: I utilize the built in reminder app on my iPhone, I have one list for groceries, one for the volunteer work and one for my weekends. So I can make the most out of tackling chores and then enjoy my weekend! I’m constantly plugging things in here and always set an alert so it pops up on my phone and I don’t have to scroll through each list every day.
- Make the Most of Lunch: On my lunch hour at work I try to get other things done, updating my budget, I do this once a week – on EXCEL. I tried Mint for a while but didn’t like that I was always going in and correcting it. I’ll also run errands or just catch up on reading. This allows you to truly be off at the end of the day.
- Lists!: When I’m working on a project, say crafting Christmas presents, I always have a full list of every last thing I’ll need to complete the project. Even if I already own it, it makes me double check that I do in fact have that Mod Podge in my craft cupboard and I’ll check before I go hit up Michael’s so I can add it to the shopping list if needed.
- Time Management: You can in fact multi task, and it’s amazing. Laundry while cooking. Starting the craft project that will need 40 minutes of drying time before tackling the cute little project that will only take 15 minutes. Simply taking 15 minutes to sit back and think about exactly what you want to achieve and how you can go about achieving all of it in an organized and thought out way will save you an hour of running around like a chicken with your head cut off.
- Meditate/breathe/read/be: Whatever your cup of tea is, do it every day. I like to get up first thing in the morning and meditate before I even shower. Even if it’s only 5 minutes it helps me to set a standard for my day, I also almost always feel more calm and like I have the time to accomplish all I want in the day. Instead of jumping out of bed and racing from one thing to the next all day trying to catch up.
- Work out: Just do it, it’ll make you feel great. “I’m too tired to work out.” No you’re not. If you can stay up until 11pm watching Scandal you can go to the gym for 45 minutes. And hey guess what, it’ll give you MORE energy and….
- Cut the BS: Don’t do it if you don’t like it. It’s that simple. If your day is filled with doing things to please others that you’re not getting any benefit from, it’s time to reevaluate. There will always be things you need to do, like pick up your kid from school, pay that water bill etc, but if you come at it from the angle of “Ugh I gotta do this instead of doing ___.” you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Yes there are ALL of these things to do but I’m willing to bet you don’t need to pick up said kid AND get to all 10 stores on your shopping list in one evening. What do you really need for the next day, just do that. And, it’s 2015 you may have 10 stores on your shopping list but why don’t you go on Amazon and see if it could be at your door step in 2 days instead of spending 2 hours in traffic trying to get it TODAY. Pretty sure $99 a year for an Amazon Prime membership (hello, free shipping…) is worth it if it’s saving you at least one frantic evening/weekend a month of running around.
- Don’t over schedule yourself: Just don’t, I make sure I have one weekend a month with NOTHING scheduled, this way I can roll out of bed whenever, get some errands done if needed or just be a slob and watch a season of Gilmore Girls while painting my nails.
So there you have it. Sorry if this got a little long but I was on a roll. Just a minor glimpse into how I try to keep things rolling.