Welcome to issue 6 of the newsletter. It’s great to have you back. And if you’re here for the first time - doubly welcome and I hope you enjoy being here:)
How are we all? Have you managed to make the most of the fantastic weather we’ve had over the last week or so in the UK? Although a week-ish of nice weather needs to go a bit further to make up for the god-awful May that we endured! But we can remain optimistic :)
This issue looks at all things organisational and how that affects us in mid-life.
Are you a bit of a closet Monica - you know - the super organised one on Friends, played by Courtney Cox? Does mapping out your life come easy to you?
If so, I’m ever so slightly jealous. I’ve never been super-organised. Not even in my younger days. It doesn’t come easy to me and I’ve always been envious of those who can separate all the various areas of their life and then drill down in each of these areas and formulate a weekly, monthly or even yearly plan.
Having this inbuilt facility to do this must mean that this brings a degree of serenity to one’s life, rather than waking early trying to plan what you need to do that day and the rest of the week etc. As I do.
So, for the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to get more organised. Far more organised. As I said before - it’s not easy for me - I have too much of a butterfly brain and my thoughts flutter from one subject to another in a matter of minutes.
So I got strict with myself. Firstly, I discovered this great article from Toggl - the time planning app. It lists 32 time management tips and, admittedly, some of them I knew (but didn’t always practice) and some are new to me. So I’ve been selecting those that resonate most with me (and will be easier to put into practice) and introducing them into my routine, bit by tiny bit - eating an elephant one bite at a time - as they say :)
Here’s the article - I hope you find something in it that adds something to your life :)
OTHER ORGANISATIONAL THINGS TO TRY…
To also help in my quest to try and organise my life more, I’ve introduced a work planning system that seems to be helping. I got my inspiration from the YouTube account of T Solon. She’s a 22 year old who has devised a cool system of scheduling that works well (well, it does for me) It synchs Apple apps - iCal and Reminders - or if you prefer Google apps- she explains how to do the same thing with Google Calendar and Keep. They both work using the same method, just different platforms - so take your choice. Here’s the video. The video is around 20 mins long, so it might be worth carving some time out for yourself :)
But, if T’s system directly is a bit TOO structured for you (it can be for me, at times) here’s an adaptation I made to devise a system that works for me and my slightly older and less agile brain.
I’ve taken her suggestion of using Apple apps and I’ve set up lists in the Reminders app on my phone and computer. These lists refer to
The sections of my weekly workload - such as the day job, clients etc. In this I list all the things I need to do for my paying clients and reminders about what I need to suggest to them going forward. Any freelancers/self employed bods reading this will know that in working with any client long term, you always need to be one step ahead. I’ve called this list CLIENT LIST - ground breaking, or what?
Then I’ve set up lists for other work areas I’m developing (ie not getting paid for) such as the 45 Not Out podcast and, oh, this newsletter. I’ve also set up a list that deals with reminders of things I need to remember to do for days when I’m at my co-working space in Manchester city centre- Work.Life. You can guess what I’ve called this list, right?
I’ve also included a list called HOME. This is all the domestic things I need to remember - dates such as when my daughters are home, any commitments I need to remember for my ageing parents etc. I’ve also added to this a “wish list” of things I’d like to do around the home when time permits. For example, there’s a old pine bookcase on the landing at the top of our stairs that I want to get round to painting yellow. Or duck egg blue - I haven’t decided yet. So this is added as a low priority. But it’s there so I won’t forget about it.
Then, I’ve set up a list called MASTER LIST. This is where the magic happens. I take FIVE of the most pressing actions from any of the other lists outlined above that I’ve set up, clear them from their current list (Podcast, newsletter, client list etc) and add them to the Master List. Then, I work my way through this list prioritising the most urgent, and feeling the absolute delight when I can tick on my list that I’ve completed them!
Here’s a visual representation of what I’m talking about
Now, you may be asking why only FIVE on the master list? Well, according to advice from ace business coach, Andy Guile, you should only ever be dealing with five LIVE tasks at one go. Andy explains that this is the maximum number you brain can handle at one time - any more and you risk overwhelm and loss of focus. And, having worked with his method for a number of weeks, he’s absolutely right. Using Andy’s advice on the rule of five along with my system outlined above, my productivity has improved significantly. And so has the feeling of accomplishment. You could say smugness, even. But let’s not get above ourselves :)
BOOK RECOMMENDATION: AN EDITED LIFE - Anna Newton
In sticking with the theme of all things organisational, the book recommendation this issue is one that I think rocks organisation. It’s An Edited Life by Anna Newton, who’s a self confessed organisational queen. Anna started with a blog some years ago, The Anna Edit, and through learning, refining and publishing, she’s established a golden portfolio of hacks that help you to glide effortlessly through life. Or a good degree easier, at any rate
Anna covers all areas - time management and work organisation (as you would expect) coupled with home management and even how to organise your social life, so it doesn’t get left behind. And, as things hopefully begin to open up, we all probably need to put a spark to our social life don’t we?
This book is a go-to for me. It’s written in a light, friendly and often self deprecating way (she admits she’s the embodiment of Friend’s Monica) but the methods she outlines might take you a while to establish. At least they did me - but I’ve explained above why that might be ;) But, it’s certainly one to have on your bookcase no matter how much of an organisational whizz you are. There WILL be something you can learn :)
So there we are - issue 6 - about all things organisational and how to improve yours, if you need to. I hope there was something there that will help you simplify your everyday life, however small.
All that remains for me is to thank you whole-heartedly for staying with me and being such ace subscribers. I wish you all the best and, if we DO get let out to play unfettered on the 21st June, stay safe, well & strong
Till a fortnight’s time, then