What are some of the best ways to stay organized – and sane?

Juggling time, always a fun thing to do and never more so than when you’re taking on so many different tasks at once. All the people I know who study or work from home and have small children are very organised. One friend actually sells a product called Mayhem Manager which helps you to organise yourself, your house and your kids. It’s an awesome product but I’m not here to talk about this except in how it can help me manage my life.

I’ve just taken on the task of studying English Literature. I was hoping for a daytime class but that was cancelled as they didn’t have enough enrolments so I had to switch to Wednesday nights. For most Wednesday nights during the year I’m going to be leaving the house and travelling into the CBD to study. The course I’m doing is English Literature Units 3 and 4, this means I’m doing Year 12 or the last year at school before going onto University. I’m going to have a three hour class each week and around six hours of homework/study/research per week. The only thing it’ll qualify me for is being irritating about literature and maybe for writing better articles about books.

The other things I’m doing are also quite time intense. You already know about my bookselling where I sell pre-loved books and part-work magazines online. As you would have read in my last article for The BookShop Blog I’m working on a programme of increasing my social media involvement to increase people’s awareness and understanding of what I do in order to increase my sales. This does take time and I’m still putting the programme together.

I have also started another business where I support people with allergies and intolerances (www.allergiesrus.com.au) with the focus on people in Australia. Don’t ask me why I’ve started another business, that’s just too hard to go into.

As with a lot of mothers, I’m also the main focus for the kids, yes they are old enough to deal with a lot of things but I’m still there for them and they still ask me first. I do the bulk of the housework (I’ll be grateful when my business makes enough money to be able to afford to pay a cleaner), the cooking, the shopping and just generally making certain people get to places at the time they’re meant to, sometimes with teenagers that just means waking them up.

We bought this house before the internet became common and long before it became popular and we planned to have two children with a room each for them and a room for my other half for his computer. There was never any thought that I’d have my own computer and work from home so I never felt the need to plan for an office of my own. It took me rather by surprise when I started selling books online and was never able to convince my other half that I needed to share his office. There is another article in there about where you locate your office and I’ll consider writing that one.

Going back to the dining room where I’m currently working. We’ve been entertaining more often of late and I see that trend continuing. Whenever we entertain I have to move my office out of the dining room and put everything in my bedroom, then when everyone’s gone and the dining room is clear again I have to move everything back so we have somewhere to sleep. This means I have to try and be organised with my paperwork to reduce the amount that needs moving.

I also spend one afternoon a week volunteering at the op shop and have been elected into the position of Vice President there. This shouldn’t be onerous as many people view the Vice President of anything as a figurehead. Little do they know…I need an evil cackle there just like one Nanny Ogg would make when contemplating someone approaching Nanny Weatherwax asking for a favour.

All of this means I need to be really good with managing time. This is not something I’ve been good with in the past and I’m going to have to improve I have no choice.

To get myself organised I’m going to combine several things that I’ve found. I’m going to use a default diary with the Pomodoro technique and the Stuff We Need list from the Mayhem Manager mentioned earlier in this article. Let’s have a look at some of these in more detail.

The Pomodoro technique is a very interesting idea. Basically, you make up a To Do List (I have a very detailed To Do List), you divide it up into tasks that take a long time (20 minutes) and tasks that take a short time (5 minutes) and you divide up your day by doing a 20 minute task followed by a 5 minute task, then rinse and repeat. I’ve created my To Do List with lots of detail and included things such as moving boxes of books, putting washing on, packing and posting orders and doing my neck exercises. I’ve included things that need doing once a week, things that need doing several times a day and other things that only need once a month. I haven’t included sleep but I did consider it. In the header I’ve written down a code so I can fill that code next to the task. The code goes as follows:

20 minutes – 1=ugent, 2=not so urgent 3=if there’s time

5 minutes – a=urgent b=not so urgent c=if there’s time

I should have a code for even longer tasks but I think I’m being a bit pedantic already. I have a column down the side and am going to laminate it so when I write in those codes for things that need doing on the current day, I can wipe it clean for use the next day.

For my default diary I’m going to look at all these tasks and allocate times/days for the even longer tasks and for the things that really have to be done on a particular day/time such as going to op shop. Then I’ll take the other tasks and choose when it is most appropriate to do them, whether it be every day such as Twitter or writing for my blog which I only do five days a week. I plan on making this up on a monthly basis.

The Stuff We Need list I’m going to laminate. I’m actually considering writing down all the things I buy almost every week before laminating it to save me from forgetting them. There’s always something I can’t buy or forget to buy and if I laminate it these things will remain on the list for the next week. Laminating also saves printing costs and paper.

So, at the end of each day I’ll take my default diary and my To Do List and mark down the things that need to be done the next day and then code them depending on how long I expect them to take whether they’ll be a short task or a long task. When I start work in the morning I can then look at the To Do List and start doing things in a reasonable order, alternating long tasks with short tasks and making certain I take a brief break in between as all the medical experts say you shouldn’t sit at your computer for too long at one time.

Just to get me in the mood I’ve been writing this article during my class break time, at least I was until I started talking to people, but that’s part of why I’m in class. That’s the plan, but if I pick up a book and it’s too tempting then all plans will be out the window until the book is finished.

Suzie Eisfelder

Suz’s Space

Your online home for pre-loved books and part-work magazines

Website: www.suzs-space.com

Twitter: twitter.com/SuzsSpace

Facebook: www.facebook.com/PrelovedBooksatSuzsSpace

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  • Being an organized person is not that hard, in fact, there some ways how to get rid of that problem. One of the simple ways is that When we spend time looking ahead – anticipating – we prepare and execute more efficiently. By anticipating, you’ll create more time for yourself and have less stress.Before I set out to do anything, whether it’s putting together a grocery list to plan the week’s meals, packing for a trip, or simply tackling the everyday trip to my home office, I anticipate. I invest at least an hour or two a week to anticipate. So here’s my advice to you: Take an hour, say Sunday mornings, and sit with your preferred organizational tool: pen and paper, laptop, iPad or your day-timer calendar.

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