Being a VA serving clients in different sectors, in addition to having a family to organise, means I have to be totally on the ball when it comes to being organised. It’s taken time and practice but I think I am just about there now!
These are my top tips for getting organised in 2021 – let me know what you are going to try this year!
GET A GOOD PLANNER (OR PLANNERS!)
This A4 sized one from Box Clever Press fits the bill perfectly and at £14.99 it’s super affordable.
I scoured the internet for the best business planner. I wanted something I could write my yearly goals in and the actions I am going to take to get there, as well as monthly plans I wanted a decent sized diary with a weekly viewer with plenty of space for to do lists alongside.
The pages are nice and thick so there is no bleed through, and it will definitely last being thumbed through hundreds of times. This is my desktop planner that I will have open and be working in every day and will be my bible when it comes to planning out my days and keeping records of what I need to do.
If you have a bigger budget then this ‘My PA’ planner caught my eye and had LOTS of great reviews.
I also have an A5 planner diary. This gorgeous one from Collins was gifted to me this year and has the most beautiful luxurious feel to the pages!
This diary I can easily fit in my bag and is what I use to keep track of family activities. From term dates, to handing in those big homework projects, to what my hubby is up to – it all goes in here. I transfer over my term dates into my business planner too, as well as anything that might clash with work, but generally I keep it all in here as my personal family planner.
If you didn’t know already, my dog is very big part of my life, we do a lot of training and I have goals and plans for him every month too. So, my family planner doubles up as a record keeper for him too which is great. There is a page alongside every week to write to do’s or keep track of things.
So, although I have my amazing paper planners, I like to complement my planning system with a digital calendar to keep me on track. I do like the back up of having a reminder pop up on my phone before a meeting! I use google calendars. Most applications will give you the option to add an event to your google calendar as it is so widely used.
When you create an event yourself, you can very simply add an email address for the person or people you want to invite and they will be emailed an invitation to accept.
The beauty with it too, is that you can either use an existing gmail address, OR you can use your business email. If you want to use a business email, then you need to set up a google account (be sure to click the button that says use own email address, rather than generating a ‘new’ gmail email account) Once created, you can log into your calendar with your business email account and all invitations will go from there. You can log into more than one calendar too so I have a personal one AND my business one.
I use this calendar for ALL of my appointments, and it’s a handy quick guide when we do get back into the real world and you need to check your diary on the go.
And for those that like to geek out with a bit of colour co-ordination, you can colour code your events and meetings and add reminders too.
How many times have you done this? Written out a to do list for the day, which is just so unobtainable, no matter how hard you try, as life just gets in the way! So, my to do list is now weekly, and I highlight THREE things I HAVE to get done that day. Even if one of them is to put a load of washing on. Yep, I have to remind myself to put the school clothes on or the socks and pants!
Crossing things off a list feels good and the more of an accomplished mindset you are in, the more you will get done. If you don’t feel like you are getting through anything you are more likely just to throw the towel in completely and write off the day. So keep your expectations realistic in terms of what you can actually get done.
TURN OFF THE TECH
I can’t believe this isn’t something I have done before! I would say over the past 6 months this has been my best and most useful tool to being more organised. I like to divide my time into hourly or hour and half slots. I find that after that time I need to refresh and stretch my legs and get a bit of clarity. However, if you keep being interrupted during that time, that hour and half work actually ends up being FAR less productive.
The answer? Turn off the tech. You can put your phone into aeroplane mode, or on silent, or on charge in another room. Whatever you need to do to take that distraction away. You can then check on it during your intervals and make a note of what you need to do AFTER you have finished your project, unless of course it’s urgent. Trust me on this one you will get SOOOO much more done and it will feel REALLY good!
This has become a new one on my list in the ultimate in being organised. But what does that have to do with anything I hear you say?! Well since I have started meditating in the morning, I’ve found that my mind is SO much clearer and calmer before starting the day. It’s had a huge impact on being organised and being able to cope with any unforeseen changes that come up in the day, like a child self-isolating, a sick animal that needs taking to the vets, or a big project a client needs doing asap.
Meditating isn’t some far off distant practice that requires a ton of expertise! Meditating can be done by anyone, at any time. I love the tunes here from Nu Meditation – why not give it a try?
How to meditate:
- Find a track you like
- Find somewhere quite for 10-20 mins if you can – even if it’s the bathroom!
- Get your headphones in and start by taking some deep breaths.
- Close your eyes.
- As you listen to the music just notice your breath, in and out.
- You might find it hard to still your mind to begin with so don’t worry if thoughts rush in, just imagine them coming and then going. Don’t dwell on them. Just imagine them passing by.
- As time goes on, and with practice you will find it easier to still your mind.
It’s such a useful practice so start the day with!
It’s great having a plan for the day, but it can also be really disappointing if it doesn’t quite work out.
If you have a flexible mindset, then when life inevitably gets in the way, you are going to be able to adapt to any given situation.
Being flexible takes practice. When the unexpected happens, think about how that situation is teaching you a new skill, to be more flexible in your approach to life. Think about what is important and what needs to be done that day, that week or even that month. Take a look at your planner, and see how you can re-jig your to-do list. Take a look at your diary.
This is why it’s SO important to keep up to date with filling out your planner. If you don’t and you keep it all in your head, then it’s going to be really hard to re-plan your week and perhaps lead to you missing important deadlines when changes happen.
Good ways to re jig the day are working on the go. Can you make that phone call in the car? Take your laptop with you on the school run and finish that email? Can you schedule in an hour or two after the kids have gone to bed to smash through some work, or perhaps get up an hour earlier tomorrow? Maybe someone can help out and have the kids for an hour after school to save you a bit of time.
Failing that, if you are needed elsewhere then just be honest with your clients, and honest with yourself. That load of washing can wait, and 9/10 so can your clients – just make sure you give them an alternative plan.
Did you get any good tips from this?
Let me know below and if you have any top organising tips then please share! If you enjoyed reading this blog and want some ideas of how to get your blog up and running, then check out my previous blog post ‘Why do I need a Blog?’
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