Staying organized

I’m like a lot of people, who like to be organized, but don’t always like getting organized.  It seems like a lot of work and a bit of a hassle, but it is really nice when I’m done.  I always like being able to clearly see what I’m doing and how I can get things accomplished.  I’ve tried a variety of things to get organized, but I tend to have a problem with follow through.  I like making lists, but I often can’t find a way to keep all my lists organized and sometimes I end up with lists of lists, which really shows how poor my organization tends to be.  Lately I have been looking for some new ways to keep things in order, trying both high tech and low tech tools.

What has been key as I have worked to get organized over the past few years, is having access anytime, anywhere.  I am a mobile person.  I’m usually out working with others or in meetings where I don’t have access to a computer.  I’ve tried planners, but I’m sick of buying them and not using them.  So I have to have a mobile solution and a clear process.

The first thing I did was start using a calendar.  I have two calendars I use, GCal and my work Oracle calendar.  I am not the biggest fan of using both, but I have to since Oracle doesn’t have an app for my phone.  It suffices to say that whatever is on one, goes on the other.  For this conversation I’m going to focus only on GCal, because that is what keeps me organized.  What I like about GCal is that I can use it on a variety of platforms.  For example, if I’m in a meeting and we want to schedule a follow-up, I can pull out my phone and see when I have free time to meet.  I could also hop on my computer and open iCal or open up a Web browser and log into the calendar that way.  So, no matter where I am, I can tell people when I have free time.  As I have adjusted to a working environment that has required more meetings, I’ve noticed that most people don’t have access to their calendar, which typically requires a number of emails after the meeting has ended to determine when we can meet again.  Needless to say this is frustrating beyond belief, but I am learning to adapt. As we become more of a mobile society, which I think we are everyday, I think this is something many people are going to need to take an honest look at.  How are you managing your time if you don’t have access to your calendar in meetings or when we are on the road?

I think it is also important to say that I use my calendar as a quasi to do list as well.  If I know something is coming up that needs my attention, I put it on my calendar.  This way in the morning while I’m getting ready I can see what’s coming up and can start to plan my day before I even leave the house.  It’s important to point out that if something doesn’t get put on my calendar, I don’t do it.  I’m not trying to ignore work that needs to be done, but if someone thinks something is truly important and needs my attention, then I think they have a responsibility to add it to my calendar or talk to me so I can add it myself.  Too often someone says something that needs to be addressed, but fail to delegate the said something.  I show initiative all the time and I consider myself a leader, but I’m also a follower.  I follow the lead of my instructors, mentors, supervisors, wife, etc.  There is always someone at the top and I’m not always it.  This is why when I’m in leadership roles I am direct and to the point so there isn’t any ambiguity.  I simply request the same in return.

The next area I needed some help with was getting my notes organized.  I take a lot of notes.  Sometimes in meetings, talking with others, when I’m reviewing software, hardware, etc., and sometimes when I’m working on abstract ideas in my office either by myself or as part of a team.  Depending on the task, I have a pretty straight forward process.  I first document whatever it is I want to remember.  I do this either by writing it down on paper or a white board, or by taking a picture of it on my phone.  Either way, they both end up in Evernote.  I wish I was one of those people who take notes on a computer, but I tend to fall behind or get distracted.  It’s not because I’m a slow typer.  Instead I think it is more of a convenience problem.  Typing on the computer isn’t really all that convenient to do sometimes and I’m awful at typing on my phone (fat fingers).  So in the end, I go for the legal pad or the small notebook because I can write down my thought and move on without much thought.  Then later, I take a few minutes to type the notes into Evernote and reflect on it to see if there is anything I need to add.  The best part of Evernote is that I can upload any media type and can tag each of my notes.

This was a bit of a random post and related less to education than to just making sense of my day.  Hopefully my ideas will get you thinking about how you stay organized and maybe I will make a difference by inspiring you to try something different.  You can help me become more organized by giving me feedback.  Am I missing something?  Are you doing something different?  Let my know my leaving a comment below.

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