Today I’m sharing THREE TOOLS I USE TO STAY ORGANISED.
This December, I’ll be reaching my 5 year milestone since I left my day job. That’s five years of running my own business, full time. Wow. In that time I’ve spent a lot of wasted time because I just wasn’t organised enough. I didn’t have clear goals, I didn’t have a clear idea of what I had to do to reach the next stage in my business. I was sort of bumbling along. Of course, I’ve always been a fan of list writing and so I was always surrounded by to do lists. Lists upon lists upon lists.
I’ve learned more recently that these long, exhaustive to do lists I would set out to tackle each day were bringing me down rather than helping my productivity. Having scheduled a week’s worth of work into a day it was no wonder I was feeling completely deflated each day I’d finish and look at my unticked list. It really killed my motivation. It wasn’t until I started getting really in to productivity (and listening to productivity podcasts religiously) that this improved and I learned that it is OK to have only three things on your list in a day. OK, so I still have more than 3 each day, but I’m working on being much more realistic.
I also learned the difference between a task (an item that would go on your to do list) and a project (made up of LOTS of tasks and can’t just be added to a to do list because you’ll feel like you’re putting in all the work and never getting anywhere).
Let’s wind back the clock – we’re at the beginning on 2018 and I’m starting to plan my year. I sit down and I start looking at my goals – what was it that I wanted my business to achieve this year? And how was I going to do it? I had so many ideas from all the podcasts I’d been listening to. I just had to find which was right for me. I’m still always experimenting with what works best for me but here is a set of three tools that I use daily and weekly to help me stay organised.
MY GOAL BOOK.
My goal book is a thing of pride. It’s a beautiful bright three ring binder that includes a section for each goal I have in the year. Within each section I break this up into projects and each project gets a page. If it’s easier you can look at projects like steps. The projects are the steps I have to take to reach those goals. Under each project I list the tasks for each project – or the things I will do that help me get there. These are the things that I would put on a to do list. These are the tasks that need to be completed and all ticked off in order to have made that step toward the goal. Depending on the goal I have a number of different projects that sit under it. Each time I complete a task, it gets ticked off. When I complete all the tasks on a page this page gets moved to the back of the binder in the COMPLETE section. This means I can see where I’m at without flipping through loads of pages and feeling overwhelmed by how much I have to do.
The planner I use shows you one week on the left hand page and the page on the right is lined. I learned a great trick from my friend Lucy and I guess it’s a bit like a BuJo cheat.
I’ve created a custom sheet that I print off every month and stick in. It’s got things I want to track. I track what time I wake up every morning so I make myself accountable. I never feel good about writing in a later time when I wake up and that self-imposed guilt is never worth those extra 10 minutes in bed (unless I'm ill or feeling really run down, but I'll usually just choose to go to bed much earlier that evening if I notice I'm really struggling). My morning journalling is also tracked here.
I track the exercise I’ve done – warm up, sets, reps, weight used and whether or not I've stretched. If it’s a run day I track the length of my run and the pace. If it's a ride day I track the miles done and average pace. There is a column where I can colour in a circle for each portion of fruit and veg I’ve had and the water I’ve had to drink. I also have a circle to colour in if I feel good about the food I’ve eaten (lean and clean). This is mostly to help me track how I'm feeling in other ways. If I'm feeling rubbish and with mixed up energy levels it's easy to see why if there have been a couple days where that hasn't been coloured in.
Another section tells me what deadlines I have that week and other tasks that I schedule in regularly, without fail. At the bottom of each of my custom pages is a place where I can make any notes about how I’m feeling mentally. I find that when my depression or anxiety get bad they sort of sneak up on me and I keep ignoring them until it’s too late. I don’t want to do that anymore so I’ve made sure to be tracking that regularly.
At the end of each week I have a prompt to remind me to plan for the next week. This is so I can get off to a running start. No wasting time and energy on what task to start with on a Monday morning.
I do this only a month in advance because my needs change. The first month I did mine, I found the exercise column was way too small. I had to make that larger and cut some other things out that I found weren’t that important to me.
This is a bit of an obvious one but it's super important for me to be able to see the year at a glance. To get all those important dates in. I know when I’m talking to clients that I can fit their projects in or when I can take a holiday. It's great to mark out busy times for myself where I need to stop taking commissions and prioritise orders, stock management and the day to day running of the business.
I do also refer to a digital calendar and sometimes use one for planning social media, etc. I don’t like them as much though. Sure, I’ll use my phone to quickly add in a social event just so I don’t forget it, but as soon as I get home I tend to add it straight into my planner. If I don’t it usually gets forgotten about.
You might notice I use analogue forms of productivity tools rather than digital. I guess this is a bit unusual these days. I find it’s much better for me to write things down and have a concrete version. I’ll be using my digital calendar more in the new year to keep myself organised with blog posts and social media. But for me, analogue always wins.
I’ve done a FREE downloadable desktop calendar for you to have a go on if you’d like. It’s pretty simple, but nice to be able to have a new background for your computer each month. I’ve tried to keep them interesting as I can with some self care prompts as well. Click here to download yours for free.
Are you a productivity lover? I’d love to hear all about how you keep organised. This is something that I just LOVE and am forever looking for new tools to try.
Chat with me on social media at:
or send me an email and let me know what your productivity tips!
It’d be great if you wanted to share this three good things story with three good people - just click the icon to share or copy and paste www.angelachick.com/blog to include it in a post!