Organising schedules can either be the bane of your life, or your best tool in staying on top of your game. You either thrive on planners and diaries, or loathe the very notion of appointments and deadlines. Unfortunately, whether you’re a lover or a hater of the uber-organised system, to keep our stress levels at a minimum and our lives in order, we all need some form of structure in our professional lives.
Since becoming a full time freelancer, I’ve honestly been loving the time I can spend organising various elements of my life and career. From categorising my finances to filling out my daily goals planners, it’s been something that has genuinely stopped me from spiralling at the amount of items on my to-do list. And it’s even helped me to refine my focus on my goals and achievements of the day, to become more socialable, more health-focussed, and more in control of the elements of my life I used to let slip on a weekly basis. Whilst I will still have the odd day of ‘let’s put off every responsibility and watch Netflix in bed’, for the most part, I love my schedules, and the more I create them, the happier I am.
So for those of you who don’t share my organisational bug, I thought I would share some of the methods I use for getting my life in shape – both personally and professionally – to help you finally get your shit together.
Before you do anything – please please please please use your Google Calendar, and use it good. There are so many hidden functions and features on your Google Calendar that can help you stay organised, that it should be used more than just a reminder of birthdays and public holidays you don’t care about. For me – I have an all singing, all dancing colour coordinated and heavily inclusive approach to my Google Calendar, and I love just how much time I can put into to making it neat. From my coloured key at the side, to help me categorise various activities and appointments, to the sharing function which allows my boyfriend and friends to see where I’m at and what I’m up to for future social organisation. I have all of my reminders synced to both my phone and my Fitbit (more on that later), meaning that I never lose track of time, and I’m always 30 minutes ahead of every task I have to complete.
As a freelancer, this is a godsend, as I can use it to remind myself to send off invoices, follow up on emails, top up content schedules, and even take screen breaks if I’ve been working for too long. But I will also use my Google Calendar to plan my personal healthcare plans as well – from monitoring menstrual cycles to picking up perscriptions and factoring in time to meditate and exercise throughout the week. I love having every responsibility I have in a week readily available for me to view, and just how much information I can access about my own needs and tasks through half an hour’s organisation. I highly recommend utilising a Google Calendar for anyone who struggles to stay on top of a super busy schedule.
Fitbit Phone Sync
This may not be a great secret to my wider audience, but I don’t really have a passion for fitness. I enjoy the occasional yoga morning, and a good weekly badminton session with my friends, but you’ll rarely find me in the gym of a weekday afternoon. So when I was gifted a Fitbit from my friend, I was quite pleasantly surprised by the ulterior use I found for this handy little gadget. Once synced to your phone, the Fitbit can send you alerts of from your calendar, show you text snippets of messages you’ve recieved, and let you know through vibrations when someone is calling your phone. Not only does this reduce the amount of time I spent on my phone (a great method for saving my battery use when on the go), it also helps me to have a miniaturised version of my calendar on me at all times.
Obviously, I also enjoy the other features of the fitbit as well, predominantly as a health checker, as it monitors my sleeping patterns, water consumption and menstrual cycles as well – allowing me to keep up to date with what my body is doing, as well as my mind.
But for fitness-minded people who still need to organise their lives outside of the gym, make sure to keep your Fitbit synced up to your calendar for a really unique way to keep on top of your organisation
Yolt Finance App
If, like me, balancing your books is the chore you love to hate, the Yolt finance app is going to be your new organisation best friend. Recommended to me by my friend, Yolt is a one-stop shop for categorising and monitoring your in- and outgoings over a month by month basis. Allowing the user to assign different categories and labels to different spendings and merchants, such as Coffee, Travel, Bills and Shopping, you can track your money simply and easily. For a freelancer still figuring out the best way to work out her budgets, the Yolt app has been amazing for predicting my monthly spend on essentials such as time spent in coffee shops, and various travel methods to meetings and hot desks.
This can help me plan my next few meetings, decide whether I need to spend more time working from home, and to create a reasonable fee that covers my necessary expenses from clients.
Although we might live in the digital revolution, for so many of us, we still live a good pen and paper session. Take a couple of hours and a stylish, inviting diary, and just get planning. There’s nothing that comforts me more than grabbing a cup of tea, my favourite fine liner, and just organising my life on paper of an evening. Stores such as Paperchase and TK Maxx have some truly gorgeous selections of diaries and planners at the moment, so it’s worth investing a little money in something that works for both your schedule and your style.
My current 365 Planner begins in July and ends in July, helping me to plan the entire year from this month onwards – as I can organise GP appointments, meetings, deadlines and paydays. This is a simple yet satisfying way for me to note down any holidays I have coming up, or free time to see my friends without using a digital calendar – as I find that writing something down helps me to remember it better. I also really take the time to plan my goals out in my physical diary – using the Notes section to jot down any ideas or tasks I have to complete that week, such as buying a birthday card or finding a dentist.
Not just for planning out your creative schedule, I’ve seen so many interesting uses for Trello boards over the years. From organising house viewing, to creating digital wedding to-do lists, this simple planning tool is something I rely on a lot throughout my professional routine. Trello can be used for so many different organisation responsibilites, whether you’re mapping out a trip, picking a colour scheme, planning your outfits for the week, or creating your social media feed for the month.
The different functions of the site, and the app, make it easy for the user to highlight the tasks they’ve completed through labels, share their plans with other uses, leave notes and comments on their cards, and create organised lists of tasks, jobs and content pieces. I’m a huge fan of Trello, and I value it so much as a freelancer, as it allows me to manage an unlimited number of boards for a variety of clients – including myself!
If you’re struggling to balance your responsibilities, or are looking to inject just a little bit more structure into your schedule, now is as good a time as any to make some changes! Organisation can really be a source of comfort to those who make it work, and it can help you achieve a lot more in a day than you originally believed you could!