I hope you enjoyed my previous post about de-cluttering. I’m really passionate about a few things: personal development, education and organising! I can see that all of these interests are strictly related to my love of books and stationery, so it is not a coincidence.
One of the things that is quite new in this decade compared with how older generations used to store their documents is:
1. We are apparently more digital because of the Internet and emails so we should use less paper. However, going paperless doesn’t really work well as lots of office workers still produce enormous amounts of paperwork, since we have emails and printers everywhere – we have more bits of paper created, not fewer. Also, nowadays many families have printers at home too!
2. We get tonnes of leaflets and business cards. And there are so many forms that need printing and completing on paper before they are sent back to schools, doctors and various organisations.
These are only some of the reasons why we get more and more papers to organise.
The author of The Paper Solution said that she likes to use her digital calendar on her phone as it can link with other people’s calendars such as her husband’s, so they can see their plans and appointments easily, for example. It helps her to feel more organised and limits her usage of paper.
Of course, it is a matter of what’s most convenient for everyone. I prefer paper calendars. I tried digital calendars and productivity apps, and apps that should help me to manage my projects but I really feel that paper works better for me for things like tasks. I like to use a pen and I like to handwrite some things.
I have one big calendar on my fridge. Every year I purchase the same one at the end of December. It’s called Do It All Mum Family Planner. It’s brilliant! It has a magnet for the fridge and a pocket where I keep some business cards or pieces of docs such as appointments, and a pen or two. You can see find this great calendar here: https://amzn.to/3nWUE8P
I also print an Excel spread sheet with my working hours and appointments every two weeks as I have a few part-time jobs and some of my working hours are quite flexible and change every week. I do part-time admin, and I’m a photographer. I also teach foreigners English online, and I design and sell T-shirts in my Etsy shop: shorturl.at/fAYZ8
And I also have Instagram and Fb pages called Paper or Scissors – with kids’ activities ❤️
So yes, with so many projects and work, I don’t like to skip from one workbook in Excel to another or from one folder to another although I have to have some folders for my photography work and material for my online student tutorials. I also have one Action plan in Excel but it just didn’t work for me for too long and I don’t like to use it.
I have separate drawers for different jobs and projects but I also have some lists where I jot down all my projects or create a mind map to see where I am, to ensure I don’t forget something important. Doing a lot of different tasks means that you need to be quite organised and have some systems that work well for you. If you tried something and it didn’t work don’t get discouraged. It took me quite a while to learn what sort of calendars and methods and solutions I can and should use. I tried many different types of calendars before. I decided I can’t use a paper calendar in the form of a notebook. It has to be big and clearly visible, on the fridge or on the wall. Such a calendar is great for appointments and important reminders, but it isn’t big enough to cover lists with tasks. There are so many notes in my calendar that no-one except me can read it easily in our home. So that’s way I do the spread sheet which looks as simple as this:
|Up to 8pm|
I glue it on the wall in the kitchen where we look when we prepare breakfast – it’s so important things are not forgotten so easily! Most days I have exercises booked at 7am but it doesn’t mean it always happens. If I need to sleep longer and my children are still asleep then I listen to my body and sleep for a bit longer (doesn’t happen often though). If my children get up at 6am this means that I probably won’t manage to exercise much that day. So any work that I have to do this week, such as admin, a photo session, or English classes, is in this spread sheet. I also take French lessons with my daughter, so these are always there too. Additionally, I would put there any appointments or meetings, such as visits to the dentist, so my husband will know that I won’t be at home then.
To make it clearer, I highlight all admin work in red, all English lessons as blue and appointments and other important things like that in green or yellow. I’ve tried so many systems and this works just perfectly. It may look like a bit of work but it isn’t, because I save the previous completed spread sheet and only every two weeks make little changes to it. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.
And then I have a to-do list that I update as regularly as I can. Sometimes I’d follow the method to write three tasks for each day but then it feels a bit robotic. Some days I feel I want to have more freedom and more free time, because when I don’t have any scheduled work such as admin it’s actually supposed to be… my free time. It is a huge challenge to keep this time entirely FREE because of cleaning, cooking and other responsibilities. I need to remind myself that some of this time has to remain for myself and my family or otherwise I get overworked and frustrated. I think I’m managing pretty well to spend some of this time on family time, reading, exercising, writing or whatever I need and want. There are days it doesn’t work perfectly but at least I have some system and many days I manage to follow it.
And what about you? Do you prefer a paper or digital calendar? Do you have a system that helps you with your to-do lists and tasks