Things like being organised and not procrastinating have never come naturally to me (there isn’t a single one of my school reports which doesn’t suggest I could benefit from spending less time daydreaming), but they’re something I have worked on and I’m now a pretty good planner (and working on the procrastination…). There are some great sites & apps that I rely on to help me keep on top of everything, so I thought I’d share them in case they can help anyone else!
Thanks to my boss and one of our agencies, most of my life is now managed in Trello. It’s a really simple concept that allows you to set up boards for anything you want to manage (for example, I have a work to do list, one for blog posts, a new one for Christmas presents….), then lists within the boards (i.e. my work to do board has the ‘to do’ list, one for things I’m waiting for a response on, one for urgent things and the all important ‘complete’ list). You then create cards within each list for each new task/item which you can label, add deadlines to, add documents within, share and assign to people. Cards can be moved around the board (so once something from my ‘to do’ list is done, it gets satisfyingly flown over to the ‘complete’ list).
Trello is totally free to sign up (you can pay for extra features but I haven’t needed to so far) so it’s definitely worth giving a go – you manage via the website and app and it means that you always have key info with you (I have boards for passwords & other things I want to remember too).
This is my new feelgood motivation tool – it’s meant for teams to keep each other updated on where they are with things, but my team use Trello for that so this one is just for me keeping myself on my toes! Another really simple principle – iDoneThis sends you a daily email at whatever time you choose and all you have to do it reply to it with what you achieved that day. You can also link it to Trello (among other sites), so when my email reminder comes through in the evening it already tells me the things I’ve done which have been moved to my ‘complete’ list on Trello (so clever!).
Just replying to an email about what you’ve achieved that day is actually a really powerful thing to do – if you realise that you’ve not done anything of note then it makes you think more carefully about how you manage the following day (sort of self-emotional blackmail, you don’t like the idea of having to reply with just ‘did the washing up’ because there’s nothing more to say twice in a row so you’ll usually achieve more the next day), and you’ll also have days where you feel you didn’t get much done but realise you actually did. Thinking about what you’ve done is actually a great confidence boost, and you start to recognise your own achievements a lot more.
You can log on to see all of your ‘dones’, and also do far more clever things that I haven’t explored as yet…
I mostly hate this site, but I need it! I am such a web procrastinator, I would almost always rather be reading blogs, looking at houses, Twitter browsing etc than what I should be doing, and I am very, very easily distracted. Stayfocusd is a draconian end to this – you download the widget, let it know which sites you shouldn’t be wasting time on and how much time you’re going to allow yourself in a day to spend on them in total. Once you’ve reached your time limit for that day those sites are blocked – and you can’t go on and reset the time for a few more minutes, eek! Stayfocusd works with Google Chrome, but there are alternatives out there for most browsers.
This app is designed to make you spend less time on your phone – it tracks your usage throughout the day and reminds you when you’re spending too much time on there. I get an alert after 15 minutes of mindless phone browsing to remind me that there is more out there than what other people have posted on Instagram. You can also set the app to give you downtime – I don’t receive message or call alerts from 10.30pm – 6.30am on weekdays so after this time I shouldn’t really need to look at my phone for anything (you can star any numbers you want to be excluded from this if there is anyone you want to make sure you wouldn’t miss a call from).
Breakfree definitely has made me lose less time to my phone, and I love that it effectively saves me from any late-night conversations until the morning (I do love my sleep…).