As a career-focused woman with a side hustle, I’ve got a pretty big to do list.
I’m currently working full-time, running my blog, planning a wedding, and, you know… existing in the world. So I’ve got graphics to design, blog posts to write, cat boxes to clean, clothes to wash, and flowers to pick out.
With all of these things in my life, how does one expect to say on top of tasks and not let everything fall through the cracks? Well, I’ve been working on that for the past few years, and I’ve got some tips to share.
1 | Keeping One Organization System for Everything
I love finding new organization systems. I’ve messed with Asana, Wunderlist, Todoist, Trello, Google Sheets, and more. But there’s one problem with trying a ton of different organization systems: you’re likely using more than one system at once.
The point of a system is to keep everything together and remind you of everything you need to get done. So, if you’ve got your tasks spread out over two, three, or four systems, you suddenly have to remember which systems you need to check. And that’s counter-intuitive.
Instead, use one system for everything. If work has one system that they use, move everything from your blog and business over. Only having to check one place for all of your upcoming tasks will ensure that you’re never forgetting anything because it’s on a different software.
So yes, go ahead and try all of the systems you can. But make sure your end goal is to find the one that works for you, and use that one exclusively.
2 | Assigning Due Dates as Soon as Tasks are Added
Now that you’ve got one system set up, make sure you’re assigning due dates.
Right now, my Wunderlist has four folders (Girl Scouts, And Possibly Dinosaurs, Personal, and Wedding), 53 lists, and 483 tasks. If I have to spend time each day scrolling through all 53 lists and skimming through 483 tasks, things are bound to slip through the cracks.
Instead, I assign due dates and use the Today view, so I’m seeing anything that’s due that day. I can also view the week ahead so I can see what’s coming up.
As soon as I add something to my Wunderlist, I assign a due date with it. Even if it doesn’t end up being the day I do it, I’ll check in with the task that day and see when I can fit it into my schedule.
3 | Regularly Going Through My System to Stay on Top of Tasks
Now, there are plenty of tasks in my system that don’t have due dates. It just wouldn’t make sense to assign due dates to everything (like movies I want to watch or restaurants I’d like to try), but it’s still good to have them logged somewhere.
So, once per month I try to go through all of 4 folders, 53 lists, and 483 tasks and see what’s fallen through the cracks. There are some things that I’ve done and forgot to check off, other things I’ve forgotten about entirely that I assign a due date to, and some things that are no longer a priority and can be removed.
Without these monthly check-ins, there is no way I would stay on top of tasks—for my blog, for my job, or for my life as a whole.
4 | Assigning Monthly Focus Areas
In addition to my daily tasks that I complete every day, I have monthly focus areas. These are bigger goals I’ve got that are too big and intimidating for a day, but are very realistic when spread out over a month.
For example, I’ve got a massive “TO SORT” folder on my computer right now. It’s too monstrous to sort through in a day, but I can say I’d like to sort through it in the month of March and feel much more confident.
I keep these items at the top of my to do list each month so I’m always reminded to make some sort of action (no matter how small) every day.
However, it’s unrealistic to think I’ll just “come up with” these focus areas on the first of each month. So, when I think of something I’d like to accomplish, I add it as a task in Wunderlist and assign the due date as the first of the month. That’s the day I nail down my monthly focus, so having it show up in my Today list is a sure way to get it onto my monthly radar!
5 | Block Scheduling on Repeat
I’ve talked about time blocking before, but it bears repeating here as well.
In order to keep everything organized while I balance a full-time job, a side hustle, and my free time, a calendar is necessary. And in order to stay on top of tasks, I block schedule—on repeat.
I’ve set up recurring tasks in my work calendar and my personal calendar for things that need to get done each week. For example, every Monday morning I’m creating the next weeks’ social media topics for Girl Scouts of Western Ohio. And on Tuesday mornings, I’m creating the social media text that goes along with it. And Wednesday mornings are when I create the graphics for the social posts.
Similarly, since I work from home on Tuesdays and Fridays, I use my fiance’s commute time (typically 4-5) to get some blog writing done without taking away from our time together in the evenings.
By creating recurring calendar events for these tasks, I’m telling myself that this time is set aside for these tasks specifically, and I can’t put them off any longer. Plus, I’m getting a reminder sent to my computer and my phone, which is a little extra push to get those important tasks done.
6 | Staying Accountable with My Blogging BFF
And finally, I wouldn’t be nearly as productive if I didn’t have my accountability partner: my blogging BFF Angela.
We start each weekday telling each other the 3 things we’re going to be accomplishing that day, and at the beginning of the month we go through our monthly focuses for the previous month and the upcoming month.
Because of this, I know that if I don’t accomplish something in a given day or month, I won’t be able to hide it under the rug. I’ll have to explain why I wasn’t able to accomplish it, and give an update on when it will be finished instead.
(Not that Angela is ever disappointed—she’s always incredibly understanding, as am I. No room for toxic relationships in this schedule!)
Having an accountability partner (and a blogging BFF) is incredibly important to staying on top of all of your tasks, so make sure you find yourself a good one.
So, there you have it! A few ways to make sure you can always stay on top of tasks, no matter how many jobs, side hustles, and household tasks you have to accomplish every day.
What are your best organization tips when you’ve got a million things to balance? I’m all ears—leave them in the comments!
Jan Limark Valdez says
Thanks for these great tips Caitlin!
We have the same thoughts about block scheduling. I’ve always block schedule my Facebook Page’s post, Weekly Newsletter for the whole month and other Social Media stuff.
All the Best,
Jan Limark | Brotherly Creative
That’s great, Jan! Do you do all of your weekly newsletters for the month in one sitting?
Jan Limark Valdez says
Yes. I set a day within a month, and stay on my computer for 5-8 hours scheduling and giving tips on my Newsletter 🙂