My 4 Steps for an organized life in 2017

4 steps to an organized life

At the beginning of 2016 when I realized that I was responsible for planning my time everyday I went from a period of total euphoria because I was feeling so free to another of total panic because I felt like I was wasting so much time doing random stuff and loosing myself aimlessly scrolling through social media, and I wasn't getting any closer to my vision or objectives.

So I decided I needed to up my organization game and find a system that could work with me.

Crafting a lifestyle that lights me up is always been on top of my priorities, and one of the biggest reasons that led me to my entrepreneurial experiment, so I wanted to be sure that I left time off during the day to stop and smell the roses and just live more mindfully, focusing more on being than doing. 

I hadn't made the brave decision of changing the direction of my career to find myself work 24/7 and packing up my schedule with things to do!!

But I realized that finding the right balance requires a big dose of discipline and more importantly knowing yourself and what you need to function at your best.

Looking back now I don't see it anymore as time wasted, but more as a normal trial and error phase that helped me learn about my own rhythm and the times when my brain works at its best. 

CREATE SOME WHITE SPACE IN YOUR CALENDAR :

One of the things I've learned quickly it's been leaving quite some space between appointments so I don't have to rush from one place to another or being in one place with my head already at the next meeting or task to do.

But this idea goes well beyond simple time management, for me it really means slowing down and engage more with the world around me and leave some time for spontaneity and magic.

For instance I'm going from one side to another of the city, but I have some time to stop sitting in a park for 10 minutes, or chatting a bit longer with a new friend along the way. 

STOP MULTITASKING :

This is a personal choice and I know it's related to my personality, so maybe it will not work for everyone, but I find that "batching similar tasks" in the same day instead of juggling from one activity to another really helps me focus and get things done. 

 Since I'm a multi passionate being I know I want to variate my weekly routine and do different things in different days, so I prefer to focus on one "type" of activity for one day instead of spreading it across my week.

The reason is that I find that switching from one thing to another cut my flow and stresses me out, because by the time I'm in the flow I have to switch to something else. 

So I prefer to stay "in the zone" for one task and get it done, and especially when it's an activity that requires creativity I really need to be in my "creative cave" , maybe with some classical music in the background,  and just focus on that, and maybe say no to some evenings out or appointments because I know that my inspiration is calling me in that moment. 

To give you an example, If I'm sharing my time every week among coaching, teaching some yoga classes and writing for my blog I would block a specific day for writing on my blog and  another for coaching clients, or a day for admin stuff, and another in which I can concentrate yoga teaching.

MY 4 STEPS TO AN ORGANIZED LIFE : 

During this year I've found a method to organize my calendar and to-do list in a way that fits me perfectly for the moment.

At the beginning of the year I tried out many methods I had heard about, and I also bought a beautiful agenda for " business people" which was supposed to help me set regular goals and organize my time. But over time I realized it was just adding fluff to my time and I left it aside quite quickly, I was feeling like it was another task on my list instead of simplifying my schedule .

I've always been a "paper kind of girl" , and I still love writing things down, but I realized that in terms of scheduling daily tasks it wasn't ideal. I'm still trying a new kind of paper agenda in 2017 which is more about visioning and being creative , but that's for another post ;-)

So I then decided to use a mix of paper and digital ( I know, it took long !) and use Google Calendars, and this was such a blessing, it made life so much easier !!

steps to organize my life

So here it's my proven system that I used this year : 

ON A YEARLY BASIS : 

I like to have a vision of the whole year from time to time , so I got this wall calendar last year from a small company called Neu Year ( and I bought it again for 2017)  but I'm sure you can find something similar , which is basically a big paper calendar you stick to your wall which shows the whole year at once, which I love. And you have some space to write in the daily boxes which is very useful for me.

I use it to write down trips or specific dates which I know will probably stay the same during the year, so I can plan my schedule around them more easily. 

ON A MONTHLY BASIS :

  • The first tool is a "general to-do list " which I use to do a "brain dump" of tasks to accomplish or new ideas that I want to put into practice at some point of another. 

It's a simple A4 paper, and I write things down in no specific order, but it's useful because it allows me to get them out of my head even if I don't know yet when they will be done. 

  • The second tool is a "priorities of the month list" which I stick on the wall in front of my desk. 

So I look at my general to-do list and I decide where to focus my attention for the month , which are the activities which I consider as absolute priorities, and I split them across the weeks. 

Usually I have 2, maximum 3 for each week. And I know that If the week is passing by and I'm caught up by new things that came up out of a sudden ( because that's how life works! ) I can look up and remember my priorities.

These will include things which are not usually URGENT but they are VERY IMPORTANT  for me, like writing blog posts or studying something that I would otherwise put aside for far too long, or for preparing an exam like I'm doing this month to conclude my coaching certification.

ON A WEEKLY BASIS : 

  • Google Calendar has been a life saver for my weekly schedule ! I don't know how I would live without them now. Compared to a paper agenda things looks so neat and it's much easier to identify the "white spaces" in your day as well. So I'm not an expert of Google calendars but what I did was creating some categories and assign them different colors  : 
    • Yoga ( when I take classes or teach classes)
    • Blog ( writing time for my own blog or other online places and in general "being social" online, like Instagram and other media)
    • Coaching ( coaching clients, review my coursework and anything related) 
    • Part-time jobs ( these are some extra jobs that I have from time to time and that help me get out and interact with people in a different way than usual )
    • Me time ( super important for my mental sanity and to recharge my batteries)
    • Relationships ( all friends and family stuff)
    • Administration ( all the french administration formalities which are a LOT and also tasks like cleaning the house, grocery shopping, doctor appointments..)
  • So what I do at the beginning of the month it's basically schedule things in my calendar according to their category, and then review them every week, usually on a Sunday before the week starts.

Things will move around a lot, but it's easy to do it since it's a digital calendar. So I mainly use it for appointments and to split the tasks from my " priorities of the month list" , but I don't go in much details here. 

ON A DAILY BASIS : 

  • Finally on a daily basis I just use a " daily to-do list" which I prepare the evening for the day after.

It's nothing fancy, it's just a little notebook in which every day I write in more details the tasks to do ( since the appointments are already in the Google Calendar), I order them with a number next to each task and I cross them off when they are done.

This to-do list is usually messy and I'm fine with that because at the end of the day I just copy the things I couldn't finish to the following day and I just throw the paper away! And this is the best feeling because I don't get attached to it and I don't beat myself up If I haven't finished something. 

It's a great way to start fresh the following day! It makes me waste some paper compared to a digital list, but I realized I just couldn't do it with a digital to-do list and that's also why I use a very simple notebook of recycled paper for this activity.

Voilà! This is my scheduling routine. I know it may sound like a lot, but honestly when you put into place it's nothing special and for me it works very well. Many of you will have a more complicated schedule which includes your kids or you have a full time job so your day is already organized, but you can still get some ideas for your leisure time from it. 

 

Some improvements I'd like to bring in the new year are :

  • Schedule more time for new and fun activities : Even If I did it a bit this year, I noticed that I sometimes forget to just have fun and do something without an end result and just to make me laugh. I'm good at setting time to rest and recharge but less for silliness !
  • Setting time to check emails : So even If I don't many emails coming in compared to other people, we all live in a time when we all get so much information ( and crap!) through our emails. So I'll experiment with reading my emails only in 2 time-slots each day and see how it goes.
  • Setting time to check social media : This year I've still wasted far too much time scrolling through Instagram and Facebook feed and it's so energy draining, so I really want to focus time slots for it as well during my days. 

 

I really hope this post was useful to start the 2017 with an organized mind .

Please leave your comment below for your way to get organized, I'd love to learn your tools!

 And I'll come back soon with a juicy article about " SETTING YOUR INTENTIONS FOR 2017" , so goal-setting from your heart and soul which is an amazing topic and goes deeper on the actual goals and resolutions you can create for the new year. 

 

 

Alessia Gandolfo