Life Organization in the Digital Age: Part II

Starting the Discussion

I want to hear your methods. How do you organize? How do you prioritize deadlines, manage bills and payments, schedule meetings, prioritize and respond to emails, remember to prepare the coffee at night, plan your meals, navigate daily and weekly errands, and find time to relax and have fun… with technology, paper, and your own steel trap mind? Think hard about all the steps. Let’s take scheduling a meeting for an easy example:

1) First, you have to look at your calendar (is it on your computer, mobile device, in an agenda planner, or all stored in your head?).

2) You then identify a few times that you are visibly available (and also have to consider, will you be mentally and physically available during those times? Will you be pissed off because the meeting is at 5pm on a Friday, or will you be exhausted because the meeting is at 7am the morning after your friend’s wedding?)

3) You communicate your availability to the other party. Do you list only one time (inflexible) or give a range of options (flexible)? Are you explicit and indicate which times are better for you, or do you simply list all of your availability, even if you may be mentally unavailable (aka pissed off) if the other party wants to meet during one of those times?

4) The other party responds. You then must remember to put the confirmed meeting time (and place and location) in your calendar.

5) You then must consider: is there any necessary preparation for this meeting? Are there any follow-ups? You also may have to schedule preparation time or debriefing time into your calendar in addition to the meeting.

6) So, the meeting is in your calendar, and so are all the necessary preparations and follow-ups. But how do you remember to do the preparations? To attend the meeting? Do you set a reminder that pops up on your computer or phone at a certain time? Do you constantly check your calendar on a nightly or daily basis?

It’s funny… some of these things you’ve never thought that much about, have you? But you have a system of organization that works for you! At some point in your life, someone taught you how to do it, or you developed it on your own out of necessity. Some of these things come as second nature to us. But others don’t. We are all different. And that’s why I’m starting the discussion. We can all learn from each other.

Take a second to write your process of task-making for any regular activity you do, as if you were training someone to do it in your place. No single method works for everyone, but I want to hear your process! Committing it to paper will also help you to streamline and organize your own process. Leave it in the comments or email it to me chelsea(at)balancechaos(dot)com. Here are some ideas to get you started.

How do you….?

  • Grocery shop
  • Run errands on a Saturday
  • Pack for a trip
  • Plan meals
  • Complete a project at work
  • Organize, prioritize, and respond to emails
  • Research and write a paper or a book
  • Become President of the United States (Just kidding! Surely you must know the organizational steps to achieve this? Baby steps. Let’s start with scheduling that meeting.)

If you don’t have an organized plan to tackle any of these things, then now is the time to make one, and make it a habit! In my next post, I’ll write about some of my organizational processes.

Calendar
The result of many different scheduling conversations…

Useful Websites

I said there’s not a lot out there in terms of teaching life organization. I’m talking mentorship here: at least a weekend seminar or semester-long course. Or even just a discussion group. But these are some pretty awesome websites to get lost in if you’re really interested in the subject.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. mercin12 says:

    My organizational practices at work have functioned very well over the past 10 months. Two main things have helped:
    1. ubiquitous capture a la David Allen (which I done at work for many years)
    2. reviewing my todo list at the end of the day and making my todo list for the next day (which is a new process for me)

    At least for me, it seems like I realize at the end of the day, when I am going home, what was really important and I need to do first thing tomorrow. Then, when I get in to work in the morning, I start on my prioritized list from the day before. I don’t question the priorities. I just do it.

    I have also learned how effective working ahead is. When I have less busy times at work, I pick up longer-term projects and jump in. Often, I just start filling up a blank piece of paper with thoughts and ideas. Just this little bit of momentum is enough to make it easier to really get going and finish when I need to. It is like outlining, but in a little freer manner.

    Calendar reminders on my phone also play a big role in organizing life at home, especially the schedules of our kids. Everything goes into the calendar and has a reminder.

    I also build routines and try to stick with them. But I’ve also learned to set a ridiculously low bar to fall back on. It is kind of like the blank piece of paper above. If I just start with something easy, the harder things I might want to do come easier.

    1. Chelsea says:

      Mike, thanks so much for your reply! I’ve meant to reply but as you can see I haven’t written in this blog for a while! I’ll get back into it this summer. So insightful and useful! I also love the idea of ubiquitous capture, and I definitely use that without knowing what it’s called. It’s funny, I found this article by David Allen written in 2007… how much things have changed! PDAs and NoteTakers? Voice recorders? My favorite tool for “ubiquitous capture” is Wunderlist. My iPhone notes are also good… but they’re a jumble, more for capturing emotions or places to go rather than to dos. What do you use?

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