Something happens on Friday afternoons, as I prepare my desk at school for the next week and lock my office door before heading home.
I feel a sense of accomplishment at tasks I've been able to complete through the week and a sense of relief at the idea of a few days "off".
The week's end is a time of reflection and a time of looking forward to the future.
I've developed a routine for Friday afternoons that has helped me to leave the school with a sense of peace and contentment.
It hasn't always been this way though.
I used to stay at school late into the evenings playing catch up from the previous week and organizing my post-it notes of tasks that I needed to accomplish the following Monday.
Thanks to Google Calendar and a few books, like The 12-Week Year, I have figured out a better system.
I began to wonder if the same concept could work at school.
First semester of the next school year, I decided to try it out.
When I got back to work in August, I made a 12-week plan for first quarter.
I made a list of all the things that needed to be accomplished between the beginning of August & the end of October.
I started to divide them out based on what dates I needed to meet certain deadlines and then I took it a step deeper and divided the tasks by days during that week.
This was working fine, but I found myself writing and re-writing my lists for each day and it started to become a disorganized paper mess. Yes, the tasks were getting finished, but it was exhausting to keep up with my paper system and I hated the "cluttered feeling" that my desk had at the end of each work day.
That is...until I found Reminders.
One of the things that Google has added over the last year is the integration of "Reminders" into the Google Calendar platform.
Essentially, I can make my "to do" list using Reminders.
The difference in using this platform is that I can give my "Reminders" a date and time!
The magic of Google Reminders is that the tasks AUTOMATICALLY MIGRATE when you don't mark them complete!
Each morning, I open my calendar when I get to work and look at any tasks that have migrated over to the current date. I check for a few things. First, I love to see if I completed the tasks and just forgot to mark them complete. Next, I see if the tasks are still relevant. If not, I delete them. If they are, I assign a time later the same day or later in the week to work on these tasks.
On Friday afternoon, when I start to prepare my office and desk for the next week, I now open up my Google calendar and look at the tasks I was unable to complete during the week.
I look at my upcoming weekend and the next week's calendar and I fill in any tasks that I need to complete.
I collect any resources or materials I might need to complete these tasks and I put them in folders I have labeled with the days of the week.
Then I clean off my desk, turn off my lamps, and head out the door.
Feeling good at this week's end,
One of the comments I hear often from friends and family is, "I don't know how you do it all."
Well, let me be frank...there are days that I DON'T do it all.
I am a known procrastinator, who has been fortunate (or unfortunate) to be able to put things off until the last minute and still successfully pull them off...for YEARS.
One of my biggest struggles in life has been to keep our house clean and organized and we are STILL working to put systems into place to help keep things together.
A few of the successes I had over 2018 were:
While I've made lots of changes over the last year to help with the simplification of things here at the farmhouse, I'm still a work in progress.
None of the growth I've made in 2018 would have been possible without some tools that I have discovered and used over the last nine months.
The Getting Things Done method has five main steps and the first one is to "capture" all of the thoughts in your brain by writing them down or typing them somewhere.
Allen calls this capturing and I call it a brain dump.
As part of my evening routine (and sometimes through the day if I'm having a hard time focusing on one task), I set a timer for about five minutes and start typing out every single thought that comes into my head.
These could be tasks that I've been putting off, worries that I'm struggling with, gifts I need to buy, people I need to call, projects that I'm dreaming about, blog posts that I want to write, and a thousand other things.
I'm basically taking all of the thoughts in my brain and capturing them so I can "clear my head", as the old saying goes.
When I first started this method of productivity, I would use a piece of paper to complete my brain dump.
And then...I discovered Trello.
Trello is a list-making platform that has a web-based component, as well as an app.
It's an online tool for managing projects and to do lists and it is AMAZING.
Simply stated, my Trello is filled with boards that are made up of various areas of my life (shown below).
I have everything...a long-term Bucket List, Christmas details for this year, a board for each girl, Farmhouse654, Finances, Meal Planning, Newkirk Photography, School, and Self-Care.
On each of these boards, there are categorized lists and cards on each list.
You can add notes, links, images, due dates, checklists, and lots of other details to cards...AND you can easily drag cards from one list to another!
My Brain Dump is on my "Getting Things Done" board. I set a timer and add things as they pop into my head.
Today (so far), I'm planning to finish our Menu for this week, get the Christmas decor put up, and go through a daunting stack of envelopes on my desk (that I've been putting off!).
I need to update my KonMari list for our purging project that we're planning between now and spring break, so I will move that task to "Current Projects", as it's an ongoing project and not something that will be completed today.
In my "Daily" column, I have those items that I need to do each day -- cleaning out my school bag each night, so I don't forget something important, reviewing my calendar each morning, and going through my list of current projects to see if there is anything I could move to my "TODAY" list.
My "Waiting On..." list are tasks that I cannot complete without some other piece of the project being complete. An example would be planning our Alaskan cruise for next summer. The cruise and flights are booked and we got our passport paperwork all sent off for verification last weekend. Now we're in the process of waiting for them to be sent back to us before we need to move forward with the rest of the detailed planning. So that task is sitting in the "Waiting On..." list until we get passport confirmation in the mail.
Someday Maybe includes items like "Explore Doctorate program", "Finish Book", and "Design Home Addition" -- dreams or thoughts for somewhat far into the future.
My last two lists on this board are "Desk Items" and "Waiting Room Items".
These are lists of tasks that don't have to be done right away, but could be completed while I'm sitting at my desk waiting on hold on the phone or sitting in a waiting room, working from my phone. It's nice to be productive when you're tied up on a phone call or waiting on a child to get finished at the orthodontist.
Google Calendar (with Reminders)
Google Calendar is where it ALL comes together.
From my calendar on my desktop at home or school, as well as my iPhone calendar, I can see all of the personal and school events we have going on, my Special Education meetings, event invitations, and my personal favorite part of the calendar...reminders.
I can easily add tasks by clicking anywhere on the calendar and setting a reminder.
The option is there to add a time stamp and have the reminder pop up at a specific time or check the box next to "All day" and have the reminder be part of the ongoing "to do" list like the one you can see above.
When you click the "Add day" option, whatever reminders don't get checked off that day will automatically move to the next day! Fancy-Schmancy!
I hope my Brain Dump, Trello, & Google Calendar explanation makes sense! My system is definitely still evolving, but I feel more in control than I have in a long time!
So...what questions do you have for me? What did I leave out? Would a video be helpful?
Have you moved into online planning or do you enjoy paper/pencil more?
What are you doing this week to set yourself up for a successful 2019?
Dreaming of an organized new year at the farmhouse,