Someone shared with me yesterday how it feels like the days are blending together, and I have a feeling that many other people might often feel the same way. And it makes total sense how that could be the case as people are currently in their homes more than ever before.
In this post, I highlight my top 3 tools that I use to stay organized personally and professionally. I'll share an overview of how I use them along with some bullets that go into more specifics in an effort to share with you how I'm working to keep up with everything in my life and business even during this time of uncertainty. I'll mention how I utilize each tool both personally and professionally, and maybe you'll find that you might want to check out a tool below that might work for you. You may already be integrating some of the tools below, and if that's the case, hopefully I'll share something new about how you can use the tool that could be helpful for your life, career, or business.
Here are the tools I have found to be most useful for me to stay organized:
1) Google Calendar
If you know me very well professionally, then you know that I utilize my Google Calendar daily and even throughout each day to schedule events as well as blocks of time associated with key tasks or activities. Here are more details about how I use it:
I have multiple calendars on my Google Calendar: My Personal calendar (that my husband also has access to), my Coaching calendar (that my Client Care Specialist has access to), and my husband's personal calendar. Google Calendar allows me to show or not show certain calendars, so usually, I have my Personal and Coaching calendar viewable and only view my husband's calendar for reference if I need to see his schedule. I also add my husband as an invitee to calendar events that involve us both and we send invitations to one another for events where only one of us is attending but that impact both of our schedules.
Google Calendar allows me to color code even within each calendar that I have, so I can be sure that those categories of my life and business that are most important to me have a spot on my calendar weekly. These color-coded categories include family time, self-care time (which includes connecting with friends), marketing time, sales time, date nights, client follow-up tasks time, coaching time, and more.
Reminders don't work for everyone, but for me, every portion of my calendar has at least one reminder notification that I receive as a pop up on my Mac desktop computer 10 minutes before the scheduled event time to let me know what's coming next. Certain events have an email reminder I've attached to them along with various pop ups to make sure I'm prepared for coming events.
I utilize Google Calendar on my phone and on my computer to have consistent access to it.
I have made it a habit to at least reference my Google Calendar at the beginning of each day and at the end of each week to adjust if needed, though I'm often referencing the calendar as a whole during other timeframes as well.
I utilize Trello as a project management system and as a customer relationship management system. In more plain language, I use Trello to help me to keep track of what tasks I need to be doing on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and to visualize where I am in the process of starting or completing a task. I also use it to identify who I need to build relationships with for my business and what the last interaction was with whomever that is. Here are more details about how I use it:
To manage processes and action steps, I have more than one Trello Board--each related to one major aspect of my business. The Trello Boards that I use to manage projects list action steps I need to take in the short-term and long-term on different sections called cards within the board. I add deadlines to each card and I add more details about what needs to be done in the comments or description of each card. In the past, I've also utilized column headings that were labeled "Need to Do," "Doing," and "Done," to organize tasks and to move them to their appropriate places on boards
I give project collaborators and paid contractors access to appropriate boards and tag their usernames on specific tasks so that we are on the same page about the status of specific tasks and who is responsible for completing a task.
To manage prospective customer relationships, I utilize a Trello Board with columns with labels associated with what my current relationship is with that prospective customer and add cards under each column with customer names. I add notes associated with the customer along with a deadline for when I need to next communicate with that customer in those cards. You could also use this or a similar method to track and manage your consistent outreach to mentors, prospective collaborators, or even with friends you don't want to lose touch with!
3) Reminders App
Though there are a number of to-do list apps, I utilize the Reminders app that comes with my iPhone and Mac desktop computer. Though I largely utilize my calendar to organize my personal and professional life, some action steps for me are best placed in to-do lists. There are a number of apps that function as to-do lists, but I've been using the Reminders app since maybe 2010 and am very comfortable with this system. Here are more details about how I use it:
I have to-do lists for various categories of my life including Personal, Daphne Valcin Coaching, Project Inspire (my nonprofit), Family, and B&D (a shared list between my husband Bobby and I).
Most of the reminders that I add to my list have a day and a time reminder notification set. This means that at a certain day and time, I will get a pop up on my phone that reminds me of the tasks I need to do. The pop up will not go away unless I tap other things on my phone. Then it will pop back up again and again, day after day, until I mark the task completed. I like that I can't just ignore the pop ups from reminders that have deadlines attached to them.
I set recurring reminders for things I'm likely to forget but that are important. Examples of when this has worked for me are when I was trying to adjust the time I went to sleep to operate in my full potential for my work and family or for when I had to remember things like bringing a diaper, wipes, and our Sunday school workbook into church #momlife.
I add things that are not urgent but that I don't want to forget to my lists as well. If there is something I'd like to consider for my business or something I'd like to remember to think about for my family but is not pressing, for example, I add it to my list without a date and can reference the list at my leisure.
I use Siri (a voice-dictation tool) to dictate by voice the action steps I need to take that come to mind when I can't type at the moment, especially after having kids. This has been extremely useful for me to remember to take specific action steps that I've committed to when it comes to people I've met at events. I would use Siri to remind me to follow up with specific people or complete specific tasks for those new connections on a certain day and time later that week. This has also been useful for when I'm active with my kids and have to add a reminder quickly that may have just come to mind. Through dictation technology, the ability for me to add a reminder to my list along with a day and time to remind me of the task helps me to honor my commitments I make or not lose track of action steps that come up when there is a lot going on!
For wherever you are in your journey of enhancing your organizational skills, I'm hoping that this post is useful for you! Feel free to forward it to anyone who you think could benefit from it, and definitely email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you found it helpful for me to elaborate on what has worked for me when it comes to organizing priorities and tasks.
Photo credit: STIL on Unsplash