Organized Chaos: Surviving the holidays with my planner in hand
This time of year brings with it so many opportunities for cooking amazing meals, cozy nights in, and time spent with the people we love most. If it only it were that easy. In the marketing world, this time of year is CRAZY (in the best way, I promise). If I'm not organized, that can leave me crashing into bed each night without any chance to embrace that holiday spirit. Anyone else feeling this? I want to be spending time with my friends and family but I'm also a student battling finals and a designer trying to craft beautiful content. I'm sure that I'm not alone. Parents, entrepreneurs, students, creatives- or anyone juggling a million things right now- this one is for you!
1) Keeping Track
I wish what I have to share is universal, but the fact is, everyone needs different planning systems. You've got to find the right one for you. For me, that's a physical planner. I love my Day Designer Planner. In it, I can plan every hour of my day, as well as create to-do lists to help me get it all done. That's key to planning. Know your schedule and know what you need to get done.
You need somewhere to store your to-do lists and appointments- is that digitally? I have friends who swear by their calendar and notes apps. Or is it paper? In that case- are you a blank notebook kinda gal? Or do you prefer a pre-designed planner? There are a million ways to keep track of it all- but here's my bottom line: It is exhausting to try to store all of that in your head. You cannot expect yourself to remember it all.
Take the time to write in your appointments that are non-negotiable (for me these are classes and work). Next, add fitness regimes, lunch dates with friends, etc. Then start building that to-do list!
2) Breaking it down
Okay- so you made that to-do list. It might feel pretty daunting. So, I like to separate my lists into categories. Work. School. Chores. Fitness. Etc. Looking at that, it's time to prioritize. Noting my upcoming deadlines, I decide what needs to get done first. Then, I look to my calendar.
If I know that I have a day coming up that has very few appointments- I schedule more work to be done then. It's a pretty intuitive and basic system. Scheduling myself work sessions and treating them as if they were as important as a meeting with a client, is key for me to be successful in getting my work done.
3) Staying balanced
Getting your work done is important- but it's also important to rest! (Did you read Mercedes' post on self-care last month? Check it out.) One of the most important ways that scheduling like this helps me, is that it builds time in for work, with set boundaries. I know when I'll start on my list and almost more importantly, I know when I'll stop. Of course, sometimes late nights can't be avoided, but at least I can plan for them in advance. Akin to time blocking, this system allows me to focus on one thing at a time. That's a major stress reducer! With a million things to do, thinking about only one item on my list is so much more peaceful.
4) Staying disciplined
My system for staying organized is actually quite simple- it might even seem glaringly obvious. I think the hardest part is staying disciplined with it. I set aside a few minutes every Sunday to go through my week, figure out my deadlines, and plan out how I'll be tackling everything. There are weeks where staying organized just slips through the cracks. Don't stress it. When you're ready to get back on track- do it!
Everyone has a system that works for them- so do some research and try out new ways of organizing your time. For me, the simple to-do list based planner system that I use allows me to thrive in the chaos that is this time of year!
Do you have a system you swear by? Share it with us in the comments!
- Peri Dropping, Graphic Designer
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org