How is 2020 treating you all so far? I’m still basking the in the new year energy and am determined to keep momentum!
Something that I’m really passionate about and incredibly intrigued by is organization and time management. Unfortunately, it’s something that I also really struggle with. Anyone else? Last year, I spent so much of my energy trying to develop the perfect system to get my life in order that I ended up with too many systems and found myself not only LESS productive, but in way over my head.
My work is really important to me, and I’ve always found it difficult to manage. Writing a blog, creating videos, and shooting images for instagram seems fun and easy to everyone who sees finished product, but boy is there a LOT that goes on BTS to get there. I’m basically a one woman show and managing personal deadlines with brand deadlines, creating content, editing content, and mapping it all out can be so overwhelming that I often spend more time trying to organize my work than actually doing my work.
After recognizing that this was something I really needed to change in 2020, I decided to devote some meaningful thought to it. I dove into my current methods of planning and scheduling, and tore them apart. By identifying the good, the bad, and the ugly I was able to create a new system that has not only been working, but feels right to me! My system may not be the best for everyone, but the steps that I took to develop it can be applied to your life and maybe inspire you to create a fresh and feasible way of working!
I’m going to break down what I did, what I discovered, and how I used my both my strengths and weaknesses to my advantage.
First: Identify what kind of tools, calendars, and techniques you’re currently using – all of them!
Physical planners, google calendar, and both handwritten & digital lists (LOTS of lists)
Second: Figure out what it is about all of the above that you like and why you want to use them.
Physical Planners: I love the IDEA of having a physical planner and the process of shopping for a new one every year. I always intend on filling them up with long and short term tasks, appointments, and goals! I love the idea of using different colored pens, fun highlighters, maybe a few stickers, and creating not just a functional planner, but a visually appealing one as well.
Google Calendar: I want to use GC because I do just about everything online…so why not keep my calendar there too?! I love the idea of having EVERYTHING in one place.
Lists: Physically writing things down makes me feel most organized. I like to have active lists that I’m able to add to throughout the day and I love crossing things off.
Third: Determine what IS and ISN’T working about this system.
Physical Planners: Not much is working. I’ll have random days where I want to get organized and map out my life with colorful pens (because God forbid I use a regular pen), and I’ll fill in a one week period. But out of the 3 planners I purchased last year, I actively used ZERO of them.
Google Calendar: I always use GC for appointments and major deadlines. I tried to use it to time-block my schedule and it wasn’t something I could maintain.
Lists: I find lists most effective, having everything written down and seeing completed tasks in front of me makes me not only feel productive, but BE more productive. What doesn’t work is that I tend to make multiple lists per day. I’ll write them on note paper, scrap paper, the back of envelopes, old receipts, and once in a while, in my notes app. I write them at home, at work, in the morning, afternoon, and night, while in the grocery store or at a stoplight…anytime a thought or a task came to mind. At the end of each week, I end up with a desk, coat pocket, and handbag FULL of lists.
Fourth: Accept your strengths and weaknesses, use the knowledge to your advantage, and find a way to make it work!
- I’m good at making lists
- I’m good at using my GC for important dates
- I cannot maintain a physical planner, I’m too OCD about it
- I cannot put everything on a digital calendar
- I make too many lists
After this exercise, I realized a few things: I cannot give up my lists, but I can try to consolidate them. Google Calendar works for certain things, but I need to explore new ways to make it work better for me. And sadly, large, physical day planners may no longer have a place in my life. There’s an actual tear rolling down my cheek.
With this new information, I made a few changes…
I purchased a SMALL (and cute, of course) daily planner to be used exclusively for my lists and day-to-day tasks. I wanted it to be small so I could easily throw it in my purse and take it with me everywhere! I made the conscious decision upon purchase that there would be NO pressure to make it look nice or use any colorful pens/highlighters… blue or black ink and scrappy handwriting would do! Now I have ONE place for ALL my lists.
Next, I began using my google calendar in a manageable way – for the bigger things!
I created multiple calendars within the calendar which satisfied my desire for a color-coded system! I added any and all upcoming trips, appointments, events, bills, etc. so I could see the month at a glance. Anything recurring, I set to repeat indefinitely.
I also added deadlines for collaborations; both for when content needs to be submitted for approval and official posting windows.
Lastly, I had a 2019-2020 planner with the 2020 portion completely untouched! So instead of trashing it, I deemed it my “brainstorm” calendar. It’s a place where I can map out my posts and videos for the month and cross them out or move them around as I please. I also have a running list of post/video ideas in the back notes section that I can easily add to. I don’t need to refer to this planner daily so it can stay in my office and be used for planning days. It’s really nice to have ONE place to keep everything content-related.
Between these three “tools” I feel like every thought, deadline, appointment, and task has a home! It’s been just over a week, but it’s the most committed I’ve been to a system in years. Using my small daily planner as a master to-do list has been my favorite change! It allows me to see everything that’s been completed and keep anything still pending on my radar…and not on a crumpled piece of paper in a coat pocket.
We all organize so differently – maybe you’re a whiz at Google Calendar or maybe you can maintain a beautifully cohesive day planner! I find the way that people organize themselves absolutely fascinating. Especially other influencers! I want to start sharing more “behind the business” type content because I know how helpful it can be.
If you found an effective way of organizing your time, let me know below!