With so much going on in my days between work and motherhood and life, I easily forget things if I don’t write them down or put my thoughts somewhere I can see them. I’ve found a system for getting things organized and done efficiently and I thought I’d share a bit of it here with you today! Photo below by Cyn Kain from our Everygirl feature this week.
Getting life organized takes stepping 20 steps backwards before you even start making lists. My system for staying organized is pretty simple. It has to be. I don’t have time to make my calendar look pretty every day. I just use stuff.
The most important thing I use to keep my things organized is… Things. : ) Things is a to-do app that syncs between my laptop and my iPhone via cloud server. Throughout the day, I will think of tasks that need to get done and, if I’m not at my desk, I quickly add them to my Things “inbox” on my phone. I organize my inbox later in the day. More on that shortly. My Things today:
I’ve used Things for 5 years and don’t know what I’d do without it! I bought it for about $20 back in the day and it is quite a bit more now, but in my opinion totally worth it. There are lots of free and inexpensive programs like it, too. For example, Wunderlist is free for the non-pro version and Reminders is also great. Emily is also launching her Simplified Planner app soon. It doesn’t really matter what you use, as long as you use something and it works for you.
For scheduling, I use iCal for both personal and work items. My “Lara” calendar is my own personal schedule with time blocked off for writing, my Bible reading schedule, etc. My “Work” calendar is our office shared calendar. I also have Emily Ley‘s calendar (and she has mine) so we can constantly be supporting each other with what’s going on in our lives. Each lady in my office also has a personal calendar with doctor’s appointments and vacation days blocked out. I have Ari’s calendar and separate calendar for Grace’s activities, too, that Meredith and I share and add to. I keep everything turned off except my own personal and work calendars most of the time, though.
I have several binders: one for business financial documents and employee contracts, one for speaking engagement contract and details, one for my PowerSheets (I paste my Tending List to the front of it every month so I see it on my desk all the time and do something about it!), one for our adoption paperwork so far, and a first-generation Simplified Planner binder for special docs. Emily Thomas gave me the blog schedule printable above and I have loved using it this month! Emily Ley also has a great downloadable one here. I am grateful that Em (Ley — I have a LOT of Emily’s in my life) is going to gift me one of her new Simplified Planners soon, so I may use that for personal goals and projects. My PowerSheets Tending List taped to the front of my binder below so my daily, weekly and monthly goals are always in front of me…
3 tips for getting organized and getting things done:
1. Not everything needs to be written down before you do it. Sometimes you need to just do stuff. Lots of people say they get great satisfaction out of crossing something off of a list. I totally get that and, at the same time, I think there is more satisfaction to be gained from actually doing things. Sometimes I wake up with my mental to-do list and I just start doing it rather than planning it. We do far too much planning sometimes and thinking about things and they never get done, right?
2. Kill the “Big List“! I only allow 5 things to be on my list each day or I get completely overwhelmed. I used to keep my “Big List” out on my desk and I felt defeated at the end of the day, even if I crossed off 10 things. Read more about the Big List here and how to conquer it. Keep your daily lists small, realistic and actionable.
Here is a screenshot of my Things list for today…
3. Making things “actionable” means writing your to-do’s in a way that helps you visualize yourself doing them clearly. For instance, instead of writing “PowerSheets e-book” on my list, I changed it to read “design 2 chapters of PowerSheets e-book.” That is do-able, realistic and specific. Just having “PowerSheets e-book” is non-specific and overwhelming. Re-write your to-do’s so that they are clear, actionable and you can just glance at them and have confidence that you can conquer that task!
More on how I stay organized…
First, to-do’s go into the Things Inbox when I’m on the go. Later (usually at the end of the day so I get organized for the next day), I schedule all of them and re-write them to be clear and actionable. I schedule to-do’s for specific days when I know I will be able to do them or have the resources available for them. If I don’t have enough time for something one day, I schedule it for a day when I know I will. Below you can see some of my scheduled to-do’s…
and my recurring to-do’s…
I use my “Notes” section for sermon notes and inspiring quotes.
That’s it! A few binders, an app and a whole lot of ACTION. Remember: done is better than perfect.
OK, time to go do these things today! How do you stay organized? I’d love to learn from you, too! Have a question? Ask away! Most importantly, though… go make things happen!