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Let's Do This!

Ok! Here goes nothing! I can't even commit to a project cover photo yet--that's where I am right now. My diagnostic quiz was at danger in most areas. Yikes! Here are the results:

I'm actually shocked that my "organize" score wasn't worse. I don't feel organized. The only reason I even feel like I have time for this class is because it's the slow season for my business. But this is good. I'm glad I'm doing this! I'd love to start the new year with a fresh start and have a streamlined workflow for my business and life!

So a bit about me. I'm mommy to an incredible, lively, magical two-year-old. And I run an invitation and stationery business out of my home. There's a part of me that loves doing everything, but it's not sustainable. The whole work/life balance thing? Totally out of whack.

PHASE 1
Well my head is just a giant pile of open loops! I just downloaded evernote and instead of Things I chose Wunderlist. I've heard good things about it and I did a little interenet reading and just feel better choosing the free option! I'm really more of a paper and pen girl anyway, but I want to follow the program and I think it will be good to have something digital too. I figure if I can actually get a handle on my workflow and I decide to go back to paper and pen I always can!

So now to collect the Open Loops!

Update: I feel like I have the majority of my open loops written down in wunderlist now. (I have 86.) I'm struggling a little with handling such a long list. I think I'm writing some stuff down twice and I don't feel like it's really leaving my brain. But I'm hoping that once I move on to phase 2 and start processing some of these open loops I'll stop feeling that way.

PHASE 2
December 2, 2013
Well I'm seeing a downside of wunderlist already since I can't link an email to a task like in things. I might have to bite the bullet and switch! But for now I made tasks in things relating to the emails and then left the emails in my inbox with a star. I now only have 6 emails in my work email and 7 in my personal. Not bad. As I work through the rest of the steps I'll have to see if this will be sufficient or if it would be better to switch to Things. (I think it's ironic that I'll gladly pay for an online class but I can't seem to come to terms with the idea of paying for an app!)

I just went through and rewrote my open loops as next action items! Pretty invigorating really. Even though it took a long time (and I put A LOT with a to do date as tomorrow, so I'm a little nervous about that!) I feel good about changing things like "laundry-mania" to "take basket of folded clothes upstairs" and "organize office" to "put boxes of envelopes back on the shelf." I want to stay up and watch the third video, but it's late and I (apparently) have a lot to do tomorrow!

December 3, 2013
I just watched the third video (about projects and areas). If I'm going to follow this plan to the letter, I definitely need to scrap wunderlist and start over with Things. I love the simplicity and flexibility and price of Wunderlist, but I think trying to manipulate it so that I can have projects and areas is just going to be too complicated.

So that issue aside... I'm feeling a little nervous about the next step. Or maybe overwhelmed is the right word. One issue is that I have several orders going at the same time for my business. I thought originally that I'd make each one a separate "project" but it seems kind of like I'm adding MORE to my plate by doing that. At any given time I usually have about 20 open orders. It just seems like a lot to be constantly creating and deleting projects. (And evernote notebooks? I don't need evernote notebooks for every order. Or any order, so I think I'll be skipping that.)

But I told myself I'd give this a try. This has been my problem with every productivity program I've tried. I get really excited at the beginning and then life seems to get in the way and I lose interest/motivation/something... 

So. I'm sucking it up. I'm downloading the trial of things and transferring my open loops and then making projects and areas. Here goes nothin'!

Update later 12/3 - I downloaded Things! Ok I do love the ability to link emails to tasks. So I might be sold. We'll see when I actually start DOING some of these tasks!

I made my projects (decided to do every major order and an extra project for random small orders. I don't have all major orders listed now, just ones with upcoming tasks that need to be done in the next couple days so they're at the front of my mind. I'll add the rest tomorrow.) and my areas--really trying to keep the areas focused to the main areas of my life that I'd like to cultivate. I didn't want 9000 areas that were all work-related, so I tried to stay pretty broad. I don't like looking at so many projects and areas on the left. And the "next" view of Things is confusing to me. Well not confusing... overwhelming? I feel like I'm just shuffling things around and losing sight of the big picture right now.

I'm feeling very vulnerable and hesitant in this stage... I love writing my to do lists on real paper. The problem is that I don't have a consistent method of reviewing my lists or even keeping them in the same place. So they're really still just floating around in my head. So I'm trying so hard to trust this system.

Excited to move to the next phase and see what happens with this monster list!

December 4, 2013
Last night I went to bed with this on my mind. And I decided I'm going to give the full process with the whole digital situation 100% effort for the full length of the Things free trial. (The phone app doesn't have a free trial does it? That would be useful!) I figure at that point I'll either be sold on the concept of keeping my to do list in digital form or I'll be confident enough with the process to convert the method to an "analog" form and use my planner more efficiently.

I have 13 items in my "today" list on Things, so I'm going to get started on those before moving on to Phase 3!

Phase 3
December 5, 2013 - Ok I made all my projects in Things. I still don't like having such a long list, but I'm going to go with this method for now. Then I set up evernote. I am not making a notebook for every project. I have way too many projects! And I really don't keep notes or collect resources for most of them. So I changed up the organization a little. I made my inbox and then I have two stacks. "Work" and "Life." Each of the stacks just has a few notebooks. I figure as I add things to evernote it will be come clear whether i need to add more notebooks or not!

I think my *physical* organization of stuff is going to take more work! I have 40,000,000 file folders from when I was teaching. So I'm going to take one crate and just try to process physical open loops one at a time. Like a robot :) But for now I'm focusing on digital and I'll get to physical... maybe this weekend?

So here's what I'm using for everything:
Project List - Things (I also have a physical clipboard with a chart for tracking just my orders)
Project Plans - I'm not really sure what this is...
Waiting For - I'm labeling tasks in things. For example, I sent a proof to a customer last night, checked off that task, and made a new task "Waiting: Brian's Revisions" I'm not actually sure this is necessary as when Brian emails I'll know that I need to do his revisions and could make the task then. However, I've had a few customers get caught up with holidays and not write back to me for days, so maybe it will help me remember to follow up with them.
Calendar - I use two physical calendars. One in my planner and one on a whiteboard right in front of my desk. I'll also start using ical I guess.
Next Actions - Things
Reference - Evernote (I'll also set up my files)
Someday/Maybe - Things (I should set up something in Evernote for this too!)

PHASE 4
December 6, 2013
I've been looking forward to this part! I think this is the key in really changing my system (or lack thereof.)  Making it a habit to review everything daily, weekly, and monthly. It seems like such a simple concept, so why have I never done it? Well I am now! :) Here are my lists

On the monthly list is to do my Tending List, which is part of Lara Casey's Powersheets which I love love love. If anyone out there is looking for a great way to set goals, you have to  check these out.

So now I need to integrate these into my routine! I like to do my tending list a few days before the new month (when I can remember) so I think I'll do my whole monthly checklist on the last Friday of the month. I'm picking Friday because my daughter's in preschool on Fridays and I know I can have a chunk of uninterrupted time to drink coffee and do my checklist. I'm thinking I'll do my weekly checklist on Mondays at 1:45 after I put my daughter down for her nap. I volunteer at her school Monday mornings, so I try not to schedule any heavy work tasks that day. It seems like a good day to do planning and review, plus I'm already doing my bookkeeping on Mondays, so it fits right in. And then my daily checklist... I'm struggling to pick a time. Maybe it's best to do it very early so that on school days I can dive right in after dropping my daughter off instead of spending a bunch of time figuring out what I'm doing. So I'm going to try 7:30. That way I should have that out of my head before we need to start the ordeal of getting out the door for school.

I'm also going to check out Todoist. I never planned on jumping around from app to app, but I think it's worth investing the time now to check them all out before committing to one! I'd like to find one that really works how I need it to, and though I've been liking Things more than Wunderlist, I've just gotta check out Todoist!

December 7, 2013 - Update
Got some sad news last night about a friend and took today off. Downloaded Todoist, though, and am itching to go through the how-to doc step by step and get it set up. I think it could be the right tool for me! I like that I can have multiple levels... projects, subprojects, tasks, subtasks... I don't want to abuse that and have an insane amount of multi-level projects, but I like that I have options. And I like that I can colapse things in the list on the left. So I sort of hate that I'm going to start over making areas, projects, and tasks, but oh well. It will pay off when I settle on the right tool!

I'm hoping to watch the phase 5 videos tonight! Excited for the DOING phase!

Phase 5
Update: Just watched the rest of the videos! Now I feel like I can really start. Hahaha. So I set up all my areas in todoist and was finally feeling clear about the structure of projects/subprojects and tasks/subtasks I wanted to use for my orders! Hooray! Then I downloaded chrome just so I could have the todoist plugin for email and I made a task from an email, which was great. Well then I went to test it out... and it links back to my personal email inbox, not the specific email I made the task from (which is in my work email).

So that's a problem.

I really like the look of todoist. It just seems like it would flow naturally for me. And of course I love the price. I like the flexibility of subprojects and subtasks. But if I'm going to jump into this whole-heartedly, I need to link emails.  (I've made a lot of progress on my email inbox before this class, but I do still use it somewhat as a holding area for things to do and read... I liked the analogy of using a physical mailbox this way. Pretty sure my mail carrier would kill me if I left all my bills in there until I paid them and let my magazines pile up in there until I could read them.) So the linking email thing feels kind of crucial, right?

Update 12/23/13
Just wanted to write a super quick update! I've been finding todoist to work really well! Still working on making the daily/weekly checks part of my routine. So while I've definitely improved, I know that the daily check is going to skyrocket my productivity!

I've snapped some photos of my work area and some of my physical systems, so I'll try to update soon to show those off!

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