And Just Like That, 2016 is Over


Hard to believe that 2016 is over! Just as some of our New Year’s Resolutions may have fallen by the wayside, so perhaps have our original plans of how THIS year we were going to be much more together & productive. In my case, I started the year with a great plan, but I quickly realized through trial & error that my new system wasn’t going work - no matter how pretty it was!  However, in the process I discovered a really simple strategy that worked 1000% better for me & which I’m going to keep up going forward. I had dragged myself through 2015 managing bunch of new things (mostly good ones – we got a puppy, my youngest daughter switched to a new school, we bought a vacation home)  in addition to the usual lineup of my consulting work, family responsibilities, etc.  But somehow I felt like I was always behind, missing deadlines, getting in trouble because of overdue paperwork, etc. How could I make 2016 easier??

I keep an online calendar synched from my computer/phone via iCal — so scheduling wasn’t as big an issue for me as planning and project management. A PLANNER IS WHAT I NEED, I declared to myself last December, & I took my time searching for the perfect one. I scoured Pinterest for the most original and best designed ones, read all kinds of geek time management blogs (ie; Zen Habits, Getting Things Done -David Allen, 99U & Behance) & found myself torn between a variety of beautiful planners developed by amazing women entrepreneurs. The choices were endless!

But somehow I felt like I was always behind, missing deadlines, getting in trouble because of overdue paperwork, etc. How could I make 2016 easier??

I love anyone who offers an elegant, efficient product and I really admire their creators. But in the end, I did not love lugging around a heavy paper planner — and it didn’t really help me with what I needed. The truth is, I have always had kind of a great system of notebooks for each subject which helps me tame all the papers & serve as good reference. And while I’m not perfect at email reading/response, I’m not the worst either. Where I really fall down is in the cycle of my eyes always & forever being bigger than my appetite — I have lists & lists of things I want to do, feel i should do, might do…..and no precise way to capture WHAT I NEED TO DO TODAY.

I even flirted with Meg Biram’s wonderful GSD system & it had some use too, but for me, toggling between a list that was too big (would take 1 week to complete!) and a tiny Post-It that was really too brief  left me feeling like I still didn’t have the answer.  I needed something portable & “just the right size” to hold me accountable, and so I introduced the lowly envelope into my routine.  Every day I take my chicken-scrawled notes from my purse, my desk & info from my emails & put them into one concise list of top priorities for the day. I break it into two categories – work & personal. And I keep it on my desk next to my computer as I work, then throw it in my purse & keep it with me in the car or en route to appointments. By the end of the day, invariably most everything is crossed off. What a feeling! Even my kids noticed the difference and showered me with their version of praise — “You’re like not forgetting everything any more!” What works for you? Are you still experimenting with a system or do you have one you’re totally committed to? Tips & insights always welcome!