Staying organized is a never-ending task. Whether you are busy designing your perfect website. Or running a fortune 500 company. Or busy holding down the fort as a stay at home parent. Or designing and building websites to help companies reach their optimal level of potential, finding ways to stay organized during the busy times, it seems like the difficulty level gets bumped up a notch. When you have deadlines looming and projects piling up, doom seems to be nipping at your heels. Staying on top of it all seems to be nearly impossible. Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve come up with an organizational battle plan that is easy to follow and that will help keep you sane in times of treacherous tasks. When you feel like you are being pulled in a million different directions, try using the following steps to regain control in your own life.
1. Make a To Do List
Sounds simple, but it’s necessary. At the end of the day in preparation for the following day, or at the start of your day in the morning, create a detailed list of everything you need to accomplish. Keep it to one day at a time. Sometimes we can get lost if we write down everything we need to do in a month and it gets overwhelming and we tend to overlook things that take priority.
David W. Ballard, the assistant executive director for the American Psychological Association, says in an article for the Huffington Post, “We spend a lot of mental energy trying to keep track of all the things we need to remember.” Don’t waste brain power, just write it down (all of it) and nothing will slip through the cracks.
2. Keep a Notebook Handy
Whether it’s in the notes section of your phone, or a pen and paper notebook, keep a notebook on you at all times. This will give your brain a break. Like previously mentioned, stop wasting brain power! You set yourself up for failure each time you think you are going to remember something. In times of stress, we tend to forget things people told us several days before.
Anything can be put into this notebook:
3. Prioritize Your Inbox
If you are working on several projects on any given day, you need a spot to keep it all in order. As emails come in at light year speed, it can be hard to find them when you need them. Have a dedicated inbox folder for each client, project, and subject that you are working on. Keep what still needs to be completed flagged in your general inbox. If it has been completed, or was just an update, put it in the appropriate folder. This will come in handy when you need to find all communication surrounding one thing.
4. Find a Pattern for Your Workflow
As human beings, our brains are hardwired to crave structure and a routine. So that way, even in times of chaos and tailspin, there is a pattern somewhere to cling on to. Open your calendar and let’s look at this together. How does Friday, Saturday, and Sunday usually shape up? Are Mondays busy? Tuesday’s slower? Are you craving Friday because you can barely keep your head above water Wednesday and Thursday? Or maybe lulls toward the end of the week?
Find where the eye of the storm generally comes from. Missy Bedell from The SITS Girls, a lifestyle site for bloggers, says “If you have something big that’s due, block out the time during a less busy part of your week. If you know that by Friday, you’re not going to have a minute to breathe, then plan to have all of your work done before Friday.”
5. Break Up Your Intimidating Tasks
Do you ever have that feeling where you have so much to do, so you fall-back on procrastination as a means of defense? To keep yourself on track and prevent the fall back, break that big, scary task up in more manageable daily tasks by working backward. This will also allow you to understand which parts of the bigger task are most important.
When you give yourself smaller tasks to put a physical check mark next to at the end of the day, you feel a bigger sense of accomplishment and this fights the urge to procrastinate.
Organization App Suggestions To Help
Toggl is a time tracking app that allows you to track your daily activities across different platforms; providing you with detailed insights and an opportunity to optimize your workflow by identifying areas where you can improve. If you get distracted easily, you should use Toggl to help you stay productive. As a creative with multiple clients, it helps see where I am spending too much time that could be allocated somewhere else in order to be more efficient.
Evernote is, as its name suggests, focused in particular on note taking—from quick Post-it-style reminders to lengthy research, graphs and presentation material, this exceptionally clean, sleek app is a must-have companion. It also has features that facilitate collaboration.
Most young creatives, or entry-level salary earners, have to stick to a tight budget from time to time, and there are dozens of apps out there to help you do it. The problem is, most of them can only pull spending data from credit or debit card usage, leaving your cash spending a gaping mystery. Shoeboxed helps out by scanning your paper receipts, digitizing the information and using it to track your expenses. How cool?!