As fall gets rolling here, I’m finally feeling as if my new(ish) organization system is starting to click into place. It’s been a process trying to figure out how to best balance all of my goals, daily activities, kids’ schedules, projects, and whatnot, and after some experimentation and refinement, I’ve come upon a system that works pretty well for me.
I call it Syp’s Four-Point system, because I use four elements to help structure my day.
Point One: Routine
Routine isn’t actually bad — If every day was completely different, my life would be chaos and I’d spend most of my time trying to adjust to whatever was happening. Instead, I rely on a personal routine from wake up to bedtime that takes care of most mundane or repeatable tasks. Exercise, writing, going here, going there, family time, play time, most of what I do outside of work is handled by the capital-R Routine.
Sure, some days veer off from that, and that’s OK, but this keeps me on track.
Point Two: Evernote
As I mentioned before, I use Evernote’s synced notepad between computers and my phone to track dates. Basically, anything further out than a week gets put into here, including important dates, reminders to do something on particular dates, tasks that repeat on a monthly or biweekly schedule, reminders to get my wife flowers/notes, notes about interesting things happening on a date, and so on. Sometimes this contains to-do items, particularly when they’re important. I check this when I first wake up to make sure I’m not forgetting something about the day and then update it as need be.
Right now, my Evernote calendar stretches through next June, to give you an idea of how far out I’ve been scheduling dates.
Point Three: My work task list
So I’ve always had a list of to-do items at work next to my computer, but it never seemed to go well. It was just a big lump of chores and I’d procrastinate on about half of them, kicking the can to the next week.
It’s a small change, but now at the start of my church week (Sunday), I make a list of every day through Friday and then assign tasks to specific days. This way I can spread out the harder or more time-consuming tasks and remind myself to make progress on some work projects. It’s kind of like my quest log, in MMO parlance, and it’s been working so very well for me thus far. I’ve stopped making excuses about tasks and gotten invested in wiping clean a slate for that day before I leave.
Point Four: Phone reminders
My phone helps me when it comes to sending myself reminders on the spot (“set a reminder for 6:30 p.m., put screwdriver kit in the car”) and in setting recurring alarms so that I don’t forget to pick up the kids from school (we have kids in two schools right now, each on different schedules). I know it sounds silly, but this helps a lot when I’m talking to someone and they ask me to do something, and I can just take my phone out and set a reminder right then and there so I don’t forget later on.
This all may sound cumbersome or overly complex, but it actually isn’t. I’ve been kicking butt and getting stuff done over the past two months because of it, and I enjoy not feeling like I’m forgetting something, or falling behind, or scrambling at the last minute. Just wanted to share it with you.
And if you’re looking for other ideas for personal organization, Liore has a few words she’d like to say about bullet journaling (I tried it and it was too time-consuming for me, but it could be great for you!).