When I wrote about my 2016 resolutions a few weeks back, so many of you told me that you were inspired by resolution #1 (and I’m still totally excited about that one too!!). But #4 – getting organised – seemed to really resonate with people too, and I thought I might give you an update on how I’m using five simple steps to get organised – in 2016 – and beyond!
1. Get a Day Planner
I’m an enthusiastic iCal girl so even though I have actually been eying off pretty day planners for a long time I kept telling myself that I didn’t need one / wouldn’t use one, because tech is best you know. But the truth is – it’s still really nice to have somewhere to write things down. Having deprived myself of a planner, I was constantly scribbling notes and to-do lists down on random bits of paper anyway, which was crazy! So I finally grew up and got a planner.
I found this gorgeous Paul Coelho planner online (I ordered mine through Book Depository but they’re currently sold out) and it’s so freaking good to finally have somewhere to write my day notes. I can happily report that iCal is still in full effect – but now I’m able to sit down at the beginning of each week (and again at the beginning of each month) and jot any upcoming events into my planner. That process alone helps highlight my deadlines and gives me more creative control of my time. Love.
2. Be Realistic
I totally overextended myself in 2015. Trying to set up a new business, especially one that spills into both the real and the digital realm, is all-consuming and while I’m not at all shy about throwing myself into the deep end and working really hard I just didn’t get the work/life balance right last year.
Looking back now with some insight and perspective I can see that I wasn’t realistic about how much time I had to give to my business endeavours. I have a family; two young boys, a beautiful home (that needs lots of maintenance) and a husband whose work requires a lot of travel. I also have friends and more family and a body to nourish and cherish, but none of these things (ie. the most important things in my life) got enough attention last year. So, this year part of my organisation planning involves starting from a place where I am realistic about how much time I can afford to allocate to all of the essentials areas.
I’ve decided that in order for my work/life balance to actually work I need to take one day a week out of my business diary and give it to ‘lifey’ endeavours. That means instead of aiming to work 40+ hours this year I have lowered the bar and set a much more realistic 30 hour work week for myself. This one step is both thrilling and terrifying at the same time!
3. Be Effective
And the only way I can justify pulling a quarter of my weekly work-week hours out is by being more effective.
I need to ensure that the hours I can give my business are focused and productive or this whole plan won’t work. In essence being effective is at the heart of living an organised life. It’s the whole point, right?
Which means that it is time to sit down and brainstorm ways to get things done more effectively across all the key areas: operations / email / social media / financials / client liaison / work flow / other important things. For me, that includes the time I spend blogging and the way I collate story ideas and photos and even the work flow for my photo editing in Lightroom. And as I will be setting up a webstore selling fine art prints of my photos in the next few months part of my effectiveness plan also needs to provide a seamless ordering system.
At the end of the day, we can all benefit from looking at what we are doing, acknowledge the areas where time is wasted, and then get busy dreaming up creative solutions that make us more effective.
4. Be Accountable
Being truly effective means being aware of and accountable for your outcomes.
Personally, it means that I need to get better at tracking analytics and gathering feedback. It’s also about making sure that my readers, customers, clients and collaborators are all happy and that my work effort is purposeful and worthwhile. Recognising this has led me to start discussions with a few potential mentors across different areas of my business, with the knowledge that it’s time to wrestle some stats, stay accountable and on track for my goals.
5. Plan Ahead
If you are anything like me – you relish living in the moment. I love to throw ideas around and get excited and fully immersed in the thing that I’m buzzed on right now. I give this moment 150% of my energy and passion. It’s a cool attribute to have in lots of ways but I think historically it has been to the detriment of my planning and goal setting. So this step is about taking the time to brainstorm the year ahead, looking at what we want to achieve both personally and professionally and making some plans. It’s goal setting 101. Get some dates in place and some budgeting allocated and then look back at step four ( : be accountable).
The last but-very-important thing I want to add is that amongst all of this organising there MUST be space for spontaneous, creative, free time. Getting organised was just one part of my New Year resolutions and it needs to be considered as the facilitator of the other more playful elements. So get organised in the spirit of giving yourself time to play and time to create art and to be true to yourself and your wildest dreams. Do it authentically, and live your life beautifully.