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organization planning time Jan 02, 2017

I love New Year's resolutions. Do I always live up to them? No. But I love an opportunity every year to sit myself down, look myself in the eye, and say "GET IT TOGETHER!" I consider myself a pretty organized person who is generally on top of things, but there is always some aspect of my life that I can improve on. The new year gives us all a natural opportunity to take stock of where we are, where we want to be, and how we are going to get there. And even if we don't always live up to our goals, it is good to set them and dream big. In education we often use the acronym BFHG (big fat hairy goal), and I think that is a good term. In life as in work, we should find that thin line between ambitious and feasible so that we are always pushing ourselves to something new and better.

I think one of the reasons that people often lose sight of their New Year's resolutions is because we don't take the time to operationalize our goals - think about key activities, milestones, metrics, etc. We all know this is best practice in our work, but often fail to implement these strategies in our personal lives. This year I am starting a lot of new things, including two new businesses, and in order to stay on top of everything I have had to rethink the way I plan, organize my time, and execute my key tasks. I've decided to do this not only for my work, but also my personal life. Here are a few of the tools that I use to stay organized:

Google….everything

I don't want to sound like an ad for Google, but I really do use so many of their tools to stay organized.

  • Email: I have separate email inboxes for different ventures to keep things organized

  • Calendar: I also have separate calendars, and then multiple calendars within calendars, to keep track of different tasks from specific projects and specific goal areas like marketing, social media, etc. I sync all of my calendars with my main personal Gmail account and my Mac calendar in order to make sure I get a bird's eye view of everything.

  • Tasks: I use Google tasks to keep track of things I need to do on a specific day. I only keep these on my main calendar so that they are all in one place.

  • Drive: I use Google Drive to keep track of all kinds of things I want to see across multiple devices and share with others.

These are obviously not to unique to Google. You can do many of these things in Outlook, with Mac tools, other document sharing sites, etc. It is really about a process of trial and error to figure out what works best for you.

Project management platforms

There are so many of these out there and I've tried most of them. For my day-to-day work, and for most clients, I honestly use spreadsheets most of the time. Project management platforms can be incredibly helpful though if you find the right one that fits your project, team, and budget. Here are a few to consider. 

Note-taking aps 

I have tried out several other note-taking programs and I have decided that OneNote is my favorite. It has similar functionality to other ones in that you can see your notes across devices, but I have found that the organizational structure works better for me than say Evernote, and it syncs faster than other programs. Here is an article on other apps you might try.

Good 'ol fashioned paper journal 

A paper journal, with a…pen (weird, I know) is a great way to keep track of everything and I use it in combination with everything above. There is nothing as satisfying as actually crossing off something on paper when you get it done. This is my most favorite journal - it has a dot grid to keep you legible but not confined and page numbers so you can build a table of contents to refer to later. 

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