I often get asked how I am getting on with our current cafe project. “You must be very busy!” they add. I then simply answer that I am just getting on with it. People seem to expect me to be stressed and panicked. But the truth is that I don’t believe panicking is useful or a sign of productiveness (Joni would agree with me on this). I learned to manage my life a different way.
Now if you met any of my old friends they would tell that I never been an organised person. I actually struggle to manage my constantly wandering mind! But in return I have been very passionate about goals and productivity. Over time I learned how to be focused. I tried many methods: I tried filofax, google calendar, and wall calendar. You name it, I tried it! But I came to a conclusion, strict routines never work and tight schedule is a recipe for a disaster.
What really works is writing things down! I am currently reading “Big Dreams Daily Joys” by Elise Blaha Cripe and the way she describes the benefits of writing things down, could not be better said. Elise in her book explains how writing down to do list temporarily clears your mind from thinking about uncompleted tasks. Tasks that are written down are more visual, it creates a bigger picture and makes it easier to see when and how they are going to be completed (basically stops the chaos in your head). Lists also make it easier to collaborate as you can have a shared record of what has been done and what is left to do. Finally, lists saves time! When you find some time you can quickly refer to your to do list and jump to the task without much thinking about what needs to be done to begin with. Another good book on this topic is “The checklist manifesto” by Atul Gawande.
Now about organisational tools. Different types of tools fit different types of people of course. Some people use apps, some love bullet journaling (I tried that!) and then there are some that use wall planners (that is me!). It took me a while to realise, but once I did I started creating wall planners myself. Why? That’s because I could not find a wall planner that fitted my organisational process (in fact there is not much choice out there at all). I will explain later my pros and cons for using a wall planner, but if you are interested to get one for yourself that really works for me then visit our etsy shop.
Now pros and cons. Like everything else in life, wall planners have some good points and bad points. Which is why it is best to weigh both and see what fits best for you as a person.
- It is visual. You can see it all out there on a large layout all at the same time. It’s always visible (which is why I keep mine on our fridge), therefore it keeps you focused most of the time. This pro is good for people who work at one location most of the time (like me).
- It’s not a distraction! Unlike technology tools on your phone or laptop, wall planners do not overload you with notifications and e-mails.
- It’s good for teams (or families). Since wall planners are visible to everyone, they can simply contribute to your planning or even get few tasks done as well. I find it helpful when Joni records evening events on the planner so I know when I can’t go out and need to stay at home to look after our kids.
- It won’t let you down. Nope, wall planners are not powered on batteries therefore it won’t die on you when you need to check what time is your meeting. Also it will definitely not get lost. It’s always there on the wall when you need it :-).
- it is decorative! A very important pro for me, I love how it looks when it is hung on the wall!
- It does not travel with you. Yes, I get it. This must be annoying to anyone who travels a lot for work. But I don’t, so it’s ok! I occasionally get asked on my availability, but then I simply reply “let me check my diary and I will let you know”. Also when I travel I record tasks and events that come up (on my phone, I use a notes app). When I am back, I simply go through the list and transfer everything on my wall planner.
- It won’t be automatic. When you get an event confirmation by e-mail it won’t be able to transfer the date onto my wall planner
- It won’t call/notify you. Wall planner just don’t have that ability to call you or play a ringtone when you are about to reach a deadline.
So how does my planning process work you may ask. It simply starts with writing down some goals at the beginning of each year (will write a post about this later). These are not wishy washy new years resolutions. These are realistic goals backed up by tasks. These tasks (not very strict at this stage) get transferred onto our monthly planner together with some events as well (if you have any planned).
Eventually after the year starts I start planning more detailed tasks one week ahead. This is where our weekly planner comes in useful! While still keeping an eye on the bigger picture (goals) you can clearly how things plan out through out the week. I just love to take some time on Sundays to plan the week ahead and I tend to create meal list on Mondays since this is when I find its best to do shopping (our local supermarket is almost empty on Monday evenings!)
Finally I have some tricks up my sleeve for success (Ha! You did not see that coming!)
- Don’t overcrowd your planner with too many tasks! These have to be all realistically timed. All the events and other external factors need to be considered as well. Nothing is more off putting when uncompleted tasks by the end of the day!
- Don’t let the unexpected to throw you out of balance. Because sh** happens! If the task is not completed by the end of the day simply move it forward or cancel it all together (if it is no longer relevant of course). Don’t feel guilty, just move on! It is better to address the task (cancel or reschedule) then get panicked over uncompleted tasks.
- Give yourself some rest! If you are feeling tired, clearly you are not going to be your most productive self. Therefore it’s ok to move some tasks to the next day and it’s ok to cancel some. Just take a bath or whatever else you like to do to relax and when tomorrow come it will be much a better day.
Most importantly have fun with planning and share this with someone else who you think needs to hear this. Here are the wall planners again if you are like me and enjoy jotting down the tasks on the wall ;-).