I really love meeting new people and over the last few weeks, I’ve been working with a whole new team across a completely new industry. The most asked question I’ve had to respond to in the last 3 months in this role is how on earth are you so organised?
I admit, right now it’s a little bit nuts.
I work full time, I own and am growing a small business and I solo parent about 70%, of the week. I worked SO hard to get my business off the ground that I’m working non-stop to make sure it continues to do well. Unfortunately, I only learnt about companies like Voltage Control who offer professional facilitation AFTER I had set my entire business up — it would have been so much easier had I known about them beforehand! But, I still managed to create my own business so I am happy with myself. I just love learning so am also about to embark on learning a new skill….eeek. I’m not sure I really need to add study in the mix right now but my brain is ready for something new, even though my schedule probably is not.
When I tell people about my current situation they are firstly amazed that I am still smiling and then I get the face. The PITY face!
Comments such as poor you, I don’t know how you cope and It must be so hard. And yes, sometimes that’s the reality. Sometimes I do wonder how I am I going to cope, how am I going to have the energy to get through the day and come home and be present for my little person. But mostly, it’s not like that at all and there are a few things that keep me going.
My partner and I have purposefully reviewed our current situation. We are both eyes wide open about how our work/life schedule is bonkers. We are also actively working towards changing that situation one step at a time.
Anyway, let’s get back to what I’m supposed to be talking about. How I stay organised.
The title of this blog post is a little misleading. if I’m honest I plan my schedule 4 – 8 weeks in advance and then keep myself organised and up to date by reviewing that a week out.
Here are my top tips to being organised:
Whether it’s your email calendar or some other tool. I really can’t emphasis enough how important my calendar has become and even more so now with a husband and child. My husband work on a rota basis and that’s always my starting point for planning. Luckily we get this information in 8 week chunks which is really helpful.
I schedule everything into my calendar and I mean everything, from the obvious like Edward’s travel dates, meetings and appointments to reminders to drink water, eat lunch , exercise and go for a walk. I even schedule time to do nothing at all.
The best thing about using an online calendar for me is that I can instantly share it with others. With one click I can send to a friend or colleague who is wanting to nab some of my time.
Colour code – every activity or person has a colour code so with a quick glance I can tell whether the appointments over the next few hours are related to work, business, personal or something else.
Twice a day
I only do emails twice a day. Which might sound a bit odd but after reading the 4hr work week years ago and implementing this strategy it made such a huge difference in my productivity.
When I wake up in the morning I check my email, accept any meeting variations, assign priority flags and schedule proposed times in my calendar to carry out any work. I thin sit and respond to any emails necessary and I log out of my email until early afternoon.
This allows me to actually get work done without distraction or interruption from email. I have also turned off that annoying pop, that informs you of every new email in the corner of your screen (if you are using outlook). Just seeing that pop up breaks my attention every time and then I have to try bring myself back to what I was doing and my thought process. By turning off my notifications I can focus on the tasks I need to do and staying productive. I also put a lot of effort into my office wall art which apparently boosts productivity, so that I am surrounded by colour all day.
What about urgent requests – I work on the principle that any urgent requirements people will walk over and have a conversation or pick up the phone and call. Most people don’t even get through their inbox on a daily basis, let alone see an urgent request come in without any other prompt.
Lastly, I try to keep my inbox as clear as possible. I file all my emails by project, workstream or person as I read them and my flag system allows me to track my workload or things I need to respond to.
Swallow the Frog
The first time I came across the term swallow the frog I kept thinking of the Disney film where the princess kisses the frog. I wonder what would have happened if she’d eaten him instead.
I know I’m a total weirdo!
Swallowing the frog is probably my number one productivity tip and here’s why. How many times have you go your to do list, and there’s something in there that you find boring or worse will mean you have to have a tough or awkward conversation with someone? And then you leave it until the end of the day, and then somehow by sheer magic it ends up tomorrows to do list.
Yep you got, that boring or awkward task is your frog and the sooner you get on with it the sooner you can stop overthinking it, stop procrastinating and get on with your day.
Swallow the frog, feel good about it and even reward yourself when you get it done…. WoooooHooo
Every Sunday evening before the week begins I review my calendar. Bug Ed for any changes to his schedule as he’s rubbish at remembering to tell me changes, and reconfirm any personal plans for the week.
It’s a very simple step but it really helps set me up for the week and then I’ve started off not chasing my tail.
I hope you found those tips useful. Leave me a comment as I’d love to know if you are miss organised or running around like a headless chook.