I do a lot of stuff. Like, I should probably chill out a bit, but I can’t. I have a lot of passions, and they keep me super busy. I work an (almost) full-time job at a tech startup for the moment. Anyone that has worked for a startup knows that there’s an endless amount of work that needs to be done and usually not enough people to do it.
Thankfully, I’ve been there for a couple of years. I know how to do my job reasonably efficiently. But I also have my side projects. This blog, the youtube channel that goes with it, (okay I haven’t updated either of them in a long time - but I think about them! does that count?). I have some other websites that I work on, which i’m trying to grow, and I have people helping with them. I manage and run a bunch of performance related events in the city where I live, which takes quite a bit of time coordinating with venues and performers. Plus other hobbies like playing basketball, video games, working on short films, helping friends with their projects. On top of all the essentials - laundry, making meals.
I’m always so. fuckin. busy. The honest solution is that I should chill out a bit and drop some of these things. But I’m way too stubborn to do that. So, I have to use simple tricks that help me keep o top of everything. And that’s the key for me. The methods I use are SIMPLE. A complicated system of organization only adds to the chaos for me. So everything I’m about to list most likely won’t blow anyone away, but they truly help me out a lot in keeping track of what I need to be doing.
HERE IS THE (short) LIST OF SIMPLE TRICKS
Calendar. I use Google calendar. If it’s not on the calendar - it doesn’t matter. I don’t put frivolous things on my calendar. I don’t need a reminder to feed the cat every day. The cat does that just fine. When I wake up, I look at the calendar widget on the home screen of my phone. It tells me everything I NEED to be concerned with that day. But I also look at the coming days to help decide how I should spend currently available free time, and having few items as possible makes it easier to do that. Some people might feel the need to “block off that time for everything”. No thanks. I don’t want a cluttered calendar with my entire day planned out to the minute. I want as few things on the schedule as possible. My key to success here is to be aware of what is coming up and utilize the free spaces effectively in the moments they become available. When my calendar is lean, it’s easier to see what is coming up today, tomorrow, and the next day. And it allows me the flexibility to manage my free time in the moment, which includes preparing for things coming up in the near term. Some people enjoy micromanaging their time, but I prefer to spend as little time in the calendar app as possible. With a quick swipe, I can see a couple of days of things that are important for me to be aware of, and I decide when/how to prepare for those events in the gaps between them.
Whatsapp. I use WhatsApp as my primary means of communication. As pretty much everyone else does in Europe. But I use it more or less as a task list for things related to other people. You can very easily archive conversations, so I use that feature often. If I’m done communicating with someone, and there’s no follow up needed - the conversation gets archived. So my conversation list is very often empty when I open the app. I often see people with a gigantic list of conversations, and because of my system, it drives me bonkers. If I need to reply to a person about something, if I need to follow up with them in any way - the conversation stays open. Otherwise, everyone gets archived. So I treat Whatsapp as a task list for other people primarily. Sometimes I’ll have a name there for a couple of days if there’s a long-running follow-up. It happens. But making this a habit allows me to focus better and not drop the ball on doing things for other people. Again, it also keeps reminders and events off my calendar. That’s a place for things that most concern me. Whatsapp is a task list for matters related to other people.
An actual “to-do list”. I use an app with a widget on my phone’s home screen that’s called “to-do list”. Amazing - I know. The to-do list is where I put things that aren’t time-sensitive like small side projects I would like to create or ideas I should look into when I have some free time. Something that I can follow up on in those moments between calendar items. And when they get done - I check quickly knock them off the list. It could be a blog post idea or a video idea.
Those are a few basic techniques I use to stay on top of things for myself and others. I may have other things I’m not thinking of at the moment. But if I think of anything else I’ll add it to my to-do list and be sure to update this blog post in the future when I have some free time :)