How get organized when you’re multi-talented!
Here’s a post to answer the question I get asked all the time: how in the world do you get it all done?
Most of you who have been following me for some time know that I’m a homeschooling mom of three children ages 7 and under, and that I work as a freelance writer and editor part-time. To be sure, it’s a busy life. And I couldn’t do it if I didn’t have an organization system in place.
How to get organized when you have a million projects on the go
From old-school pen and paper to highly sophisticated apps, there are so many organization tools available today that it’s sometimes hard to pick one. But if you’re overwhelmed by the possibilities, you might breathe a sigh of relief when you discover that usually, the best tool for organizing your time is a simple schedule.
Many people have asked me how I schedule my time, and the truth is that it changes from week to week. I do have a more-or-less set in stone schedule: the one that states when my children have their homeschooling activities, when I have regularly occurring meetings, and that tells me exactly how many hours in a week I’m able to work on my business.
But how I spend each of those work hours changes on a weekly basis depending on need. Depending on deadlines and on how many client projects I have on the go at once, the timing for my work needs to be adapted to make things fit. For example, one week I’ll spend more time on my personal projects (such as this site), and other weeks my personal projects will have to take a backseat if I need to fulfill tight deadlines.
How to get organized without getting overwhelmed: be flexible
So I do have a schedule, but I’m OK with changing things around as needed. And herein lies the most important rule of scheduling when you’re a freelancer: have a schedule, but be flexible with it.
Be willing to change it up as your needs dictate. For example, I used to work in the early mornings; however, I found that when I did so, I ended up not exercising, and being more irritable throughout the day. So I switched to evenings, and now I use my morning hours to exercise, pray, an center myself for the day ahead. Once that schedule starts not working, I’ll change it again to suit mine and my family’s needs.
How to get organized without getting bored: Creative organization for creative people
For some people, a scheduling app or a simple phone calendar work wonderfully; however, I’m a bit more old-fashioned. Although I do use some apps, I also like to exercise my creative muscles daily with something other than writing.
So I keep a Day Book where I doodle, write calligraphy-style, and also write my daily schedule—including close details of timing for drop offs, pick ups, etc. When you have three children and are easily distracted/pulled away from work that requires mental focus, having a detailed, written schedule is essential.
How to get organized: Handwritten to-do lists versus apps
There are certainly great apps for to-do lists and scheduling, and although I enjoy apps, I’ll always be a paper and pen girl for certain things. I enjoy journalling and daily scheduling by hand.
Handwriting (cursive writing in particular) reinforces concepts and makes it more likely that I’ll remember things. It also gives me a bit of down time at the end of each day. I get to think about how the day has gone (the journalling part of my day book), to plan things for the next day (the scheduling part), and to have a few minutes to relax while I doodle or try my hand at calligraphy.
How to Get Organized: Two simple steps
If you have multiple interests, multiple jobs, and a long to-do list, my suggestion for getting organized is simple: have a fixed weekly schedule, and write down a to-do list daily. Review both on a regular basis.
1. Create your fixed weekly schedule
First, type out (or write) your fixed weekly schedule. This should list your recurring meetings, classes, pick up and drop offs if applicable, and any other recurring tasks. This schedule should be revisited at least monthly to ensure that it’s still working for you.
So for example, if you’ve been going to a certain exercise class each week, but aren’t really enjoying it anymore, perhaps it’s time to find a better place to exercise. If it feels like your schedule is too busy and you don’t have any down time, perhaps it’s time to re-visit your commitments. And so forth.
Once you have your weekly schedule, you’ll also need a place to write down your to-do lists each day.
2. Create a written space for daily tasks
In addition to your weekly schedule, you should also have a day book or day planner where you write in the details of your daily activities. Whether you just have reminders of what’s to be done that day, a checklist, an hour-by-hour detailed account of what’s to be done, or all of those, the important thing is that you have something to refer back to so that you don’t miss any tasks, appointments, meetings, and other important events.
Now stop reading this and go get organized
Whether you use an app, pen and paper, or your phone calendar, the important thing is to have things written down (or typed up), and to review your schedule regularly to ensure that it’s still working for you.
If you’re looking for even more creative ways to get organized, consider creating mind maps to organize your thoughts. You can see several examples here.
Stay tuned for a future post, where I’ll discuss the apps I find helpful for organizing my days.
Do you have a system for organizing your time?