I am currently using 5 different methods to keep my calendar, to-dos, and projects in check. Yeah…I said 5.
I have always loved the idea of being super organized and having a plan. I was a Franklin junkie.
My first “real” job was even at the Franklin Planner store in Downtown Cleveland’s Historic Arcade Mall. I was there for the Covey merger (oooohhhh). In those days, I also walked around proudly with my Palm Pilot in hand (until I accidentally dropped it in the toilet one day — that’s a story for another time).
I absolutely loved having people come in who also wanted to be more organized. Some were sent in from their companies to get “the standard ABC Company set up,” while others were people like me who just wanted more control of, not just their days, but also their lives.
Franklin was (and still is to some) the pinnacle of life organization. It allowed you to keep your entire life within a simple planner. What an awesome concept!
Almost 30 years later, I still love the idea of being organized and having a plan. However, because there are so many options to organize and plan these days, I find it more difficult to do than ever.
The irony of having so many good tools at your fingertips is that you can risk becoming pretty unproductive and unfocused by trying them all out!
Currently, I use my Google Calendar, a little bit of Trello, a little bit of a notebook bullet journal, a little bit of Evernote, a little bit of Google Keep, a little bit of Bring! and a little bit of several other things that I really like the idea of (as I am typing this, something just popped up introducing me to Freedcamp, which looks kind of cool. Make it stop!).
Here’s the thing…they all do the same flipping thing! Big picture — there are very few things that I can do in one that I cannot do in another.
That’s my problem.
I love the IDEA of being organized and having a plan, but I realize that I sometimes lack the discipline and focus to be organized and have a plan.
When it comes to project management and life management and sharing calendars and shopping lists with the family, the online world is full of “squirrels” and “bright lights” and “shiny objects!”
I know I am not the only one who struggles with this.
There are days when I tell myself to “just pick one” and get back to focused work. Do you know what typically happens on those days? I come across another tool and feel the need to go off and explore that one, too!
I have issues.
At the core, what I am talking about here is this — you don’t need features, you need simple!
We seemed to have lost “simple” and that is what creates a lot more “busy” and a lot less “productivity.”
There are so many tools out there with so many awesome features that they pull me in. However, what anyone really needs to get organized and have a plan that you can work are the basics.
Here are four ways to just “get back to basics” and reclaim your organization, focus, and time:
- Pick One! Everything goes in one place. Whew! Just saying that takes some weight off the shoulders, does it not? Imagine if all of the things you needed to keep track of or reference throughout the day were all located in the same place? Embrace that.
- Put everything on your calendar. Everything! When I stopped using a separate “to-do list” and simply began putting all of those reminders directly on my calendar, the lists I needed to reference were instantly cut in half. It instantly became easier to simply go to one place. Since I share a Google Calendar with my family, it was easy to set an appointment time and day for “Grocery Shopping” and to simply keep the grocery list in the notes area of that appointment. Everyone could access it and add to the list. That way, when one of us actually went to the grocery store, we knew what everyone needed without having to ask everyone or find the list in the kitchen or go to a separate app to access the list. Finding ways to put other lists or reminders or communications (for yourself or others) directly on your calendar takes some of the stress out of organizing.
- Choose a tool that has a search feature. That way, all you have to do to access a document, a picture, a recipe, an article or a work proposal is to remember one word that was associated with it and pull it up! No more “what did I call that?” time wasted!
- Pick a tool that matches your personality. This was what originally attracted me to Evernote. I could be fairly disorganized in my organization! I could literally just save everything to it and then type in a word to pull it up, even if that word wasn’t in the file name. Whereas, something like Trello needed me to be a bit more organized with putting thoughts together that actually went together. What attracted me to Trello was that it didn’t look so boring; it was more visual than your standard list and file type tools. You need a tool that works for YOU. If you don’t like looking at it or can’t find what you need quickly, it doesn’t work for you. Find one that does.
Organizing should be easy…that’s the whole point. The irony is that the sheer number of good organization tools makes it really easy to be overwhelmed and disorganized. Challenge yourself to use the ways above to get back to the basics and find calm with your calendar.