Happy New Year! Hope 2017 brings in loads of smiles to your faces, love to your heart and joy in your life! We are beginning the New Year with a topic that may be in many of yours’ resolutions. Interested? Keep reading.
If you have been with us since a little time, you must know we strive to talk about design in every sense. We have tackled apps, bags, books, fashion and even algorithms. Today, we have another unique topic at hand. How to design your day. The topic is what you have heard a zillion times already – “How to organize your life”, “How to manage your time to not miss any task”, “How to plan your life”, “Using Pomodoro technique to increase productivity” and so on and forth, but have you thought of the task as a designing of your day instead of just normal organization or planning? Adds a weight to the task, doesn’t it? And shouldn’t this be the way it should weigh, considering how one day at a time leads to your complete life.
I have already confessed that I am an organization freak. My Pinterest searches are mostly “Organization hacks” or “Tips to increase productivity”, so finally I HAD to share my tiny-weeny secrets that I use in everyday life to make my life a lil smoother, a lil more organized, a lil more planned for my control freak mind. It was difficult to not blabber all and write down 100 silly stupid obvious points, but I did the obvious nit picking. So, here we present the final 13 handpicked tips that will let you seize back your life like the BOSS that you are!
Have a Planning System
First and foremost, have a planning system in place which works for you. While most people usually work with a daily planner, it may not work you. It might need some trial and error, but you will eventually find a system that is customized, personal and that works. Learn from past behavior on what needs to be focussed on and how your daily activities look like. Be sure to include the stuff that you do not like to do but needs to get done. For me, that is exercise, prayer and socializing. Another tip to have a successful system is to make sure to delegate things that do not need your individual attention and be flexible enough to accommodate changes that is bound to happen in a day. Also don’t forget to schedule some “Me” time. Personally, I use a two planner system – weekly and daily. My daily planner have my most hated and ignored tasks – Yoga, Praying, Socializing, Walking, Reading and Entertainment. Ticking off the boxes gives me a sense of accomplishment, while a streak of non-checked bubbles makes me guilty and I am pretty sure to start working on it again the next day. Neat system. And since I am a little backward with socializing, I write down people I ought to return calls and texts to. The complete system is outlined below.
Ritualize the planning
Having a planner will not work unless you do the actual planning. And consistent planning will not come naturally unless you train yourself to repeat the process. Set aside a small block of time each day or week, say before going to sleep or after waking up, to do your planning. Ritualizing also does not mean you have to force yourself every single day. Feel free to take a break once in a while IF you do not feel like planning. I do my daily planning two times in a day. Around 15 minutes is spent in the night where I write down what needs to be done and the next day while having my morning tea, I review my to-dos and plan any other appointments for the day. My weekly planning is done on Sunday night along with my Monday planning.
Do not clutter one notebook with your ideas, planning, doodling, notes, shopping lists and every other thing. Find the areas you need a record of and separate out the capture mediums you use to jot down the stuff. I employ an elaborate system for this. I have different notebooks for sketching, class notes, blog ideas, lists, marketing ideas apart from the daily and weekly planners. Every single thought or doodle have a place where they are easily found later on.
List it out
Create lists. The mind perceives and remembers lists more than paragraphs. Take advantage of that. Create a list of things you need to do on a daily and weekly basis. Monthly lists at the start of each month ensure you do not forget important such as a birthday or a party. I rely heavily on lists. My daily and weekly planners both have space to write down lists. I even list out intermediate steps for a task or maybe the outfits, hairstyles, accessories to put together for a photoshoot. The lists help to make sure no task is missed out. You can even track your whole life using lists like bucket lists, life goals or yearly goals. How much better would you perform if you list out your New Years Resolutions and pin it to your wall or planner, where you would see it multiple times in a day? Plans fail when they lack accountability and lists make you accountable.
Ever felt bogged down by your thoughts and unable to handle all the threads of thoughts that your mind seem to be spindling? Happens to the best of us. The best thing to do at this point of time is to write down every thought going through your mind. You do not need to make sense of any of them at the moment – that comes later – just write it all down. This process is called brain dump and is pretty helpful.When planning my week, I dump all my weekly tasks to the to-do list and then I assign them to days according to the time available and activities planned. I also use it whenever I think up of some ideas – especially for the blog and then one idea leads to four more and then the chain becomes uncontrollable. Pick up a paper and write down all the thoughts/ ideas. I do not have to worry about expanding the thought because the written down points help me pick it up later when I do have time to look at it. This brings us to the next point.
Always have a capture device with you. My ideas book usually travels with me on my trips, but when out and about in the city, I usually carry a smaller notepad or sometimes even just a bunch of sticky notes. You never know when inspiration will hit you (a lot of which happens in a cab) and you should not overload your brain to remember passing ideas but should just transfer it to be explored later when you have time. If not accessible to a physical book, rely on your phone. I prefer Google Keep for this over other mediums purely for the simplistic design and ease of use. And once every two or three weeks, set apart some time to move these thoughts and ideas to your particular notebook. I consolidate all the thoughts on notepads or stickies to a listpad and then to my idea book/ boards.
Find nooks and crannies
Identify the small blocks of time you waste unintentionally. Five minutes before the cab arrives, the couple of minutes when the video is uploading or downloading, half an hour stuck in a cab on the roads or the loo breaks are perfect times to get some stuff done. Read the article you bookmarked earlier, reply to a friend’s message, listen to an audiobook or pick up an actual book. Take advantage of these blocks to accumulate time later that you can spend actually working or maybe even relaxing.
While Pinterest boards are the best thing ever, they are always locked behind many screen wipes and do not work well as an inspiration or idea board. Don’t be afraid to get some physical boards to work upon. The best thing about physical boards are that they are always visible and even if not directly in front of your eyes, your brain perceives the board and the things you pinned and they will stay on your mind. You do not have to resort to a full size notice board you used to have in your school, just find a small cork board that works for you and work with them. Mine is a set of three hexagonal cork boards – one is my inspiration board with my goals and dreams pinned on it, the second hold my random papers that need to be done or ideas that need to be thought upon and the last one is items that need my immediate attention. They are hung directly in front of my bed and is the first thing I see in the morning. Seeing things that motivate me is such a great way to start the day.
It’s my spot
Find a spot in your house which is yours in all sense. This spot will hold all your belongings – including your notebooks, planners, pens amongst other things. Make sure this spot is easily accessible from where you work. It could be a desk or like in my case, the corner of my room. This corner has the charging point, my desk items, my idea boards and my bed table where I get my work done. If I am seen in the spot, I am working for sure. That spot in my mind is associated completely with work. Also, it is much easier for me to find my stuff because I know exactly where it will be stowed.
Boxes, baskets and plastic containers are much easier to store stuff than bags. They also provide the advantage of being easy to move a lot of items together. Also, have a bedside storing space where you can stow your stuff away before drifting off to sleep. The space could be a simple cardboard box, a shelf or a bedside caddy like this and your morning routine is saved from the scrambling of the blanket trying to find your iPod or Kindle. Well, that completes our tips for physical world organization. Now’s let go digital.
Work the cloud magic
Device sync is one of the best things to happen in the recent times. Make sure to sync all of your calendars – personal or professional – to your phone. You can get an idea of your complete day and week at just one glance. Don’t forget to feed in birthdays, anniversaries (they can be set to be reminded every year) and dinner parties as well and you will never be taken by surprise by an event.
Filter the system
Another must use feature of Gmail is the filter system. Have one email for personal and blog use? Filter out the emails using keywords and you will never find yourself scrambling through emails to find THAT one email. I have been using the filters since college with one filter for each subject and they have come in handy more than once.
I am pretty sure, you must’ve heard of Pocket. Pocket lets you save articles that can be read later on. While bookmarks come in handy for long articles especially related to work, small articles are better read on phone and this is where Pocket does its magic. Pocket has an Android/ iPhone/ iPad app that syncs all your articles and once synced they can be accessed offline as well. Best use of time when you are stuck in a train with no network connection. The loo breaks have proved to be my favorite time to catch up on my Pocketed articles! 😀
Well, that concludes our 13 tips to design your day and life. This is a system I follow religiously and has been customized and personalized to my needs and activities. The day-to-day now does not slip through my hands anymore. Want to take a more detailed peek into my planner, the organization system and other notebooks? Watch this video where I gush over the system like a 6 year old.
Well, don’t I just love an organization rant! How do YOU plan your day or organize your tasks and week? Do you use a planner? Or to do lists? Do you have any apps that you love for organizing your life that might interest us? We would love to hear all about it! 😀 Trust us that would make our day! 😀 Let us know in the comments below. Share, subscribe and don’t forget to spread the love!