Balancing It All
Many of us are now enjoying the relative freedom and commute-free life working from home provides.
We’re also adapting to a new world where we need to more closely manage our responsibilities to ensure everything is done, whilst finding separation from work and home life when they are now so intertwined. On top of that, we’re adapting to an inconsistent world where COVID lockdowns can occur at short notice throwing all our plans up in the air.
How do we effectively keep on top of everything and be able to review and change plans when something unexpected happens? I’ve found that a bit more planning and a few tricks help me stay on top of everything and be able to quickly review and adjust as needed when something comes up.
Consolidate Email and Calendars into 1 location
We all have multiple emails accounts and calendars these days. Most people have at least 2 personal and one professional. The first thing to do is find an app you like where you can bring these together not so much for the emails, but so you can sync calendars and be able to review everything in one location. I find this critical when trying to plan ahead for the week and to be able to adapt quickly when things change. There’s nothing worse than wasting time trying to look at multiple calendars at once and align the information when you need to respond to something quickly. I prefer Outlook, but there are plenty of apps out there to do this so use something you’re comfortable with and get all your accounts centralised.
Update Your Calendars
Now that your calendars are centralised give them a once over and make sure everything is there. Have you got all relevant birthdays, anniversaries and other special days in there with reminders set enough in advance so you can organise what you need to do? If it’s not in the calendar it’s not happening as far as I’m concerned. Once it’s in the calendar it’s easy to share with other people so they don’t forget either.
Plan Your Week (or Month)
Once the calendars are organised you can plan your week. This process allows you to look at what is in the calendar, what you need to complete for work, what you need to do at home and what you need to do personally. Make sure you prioritise and schedule time for the things you must do and the most important things that need to get done. If you have time left over (which I rarely do) then great, do something for yourself and relax. Getting everything planned is the first step on making sure things get done.
Track Your Progress
The second question is how do we effectively track what we’re doing? There are many apps to help you with this. Some simple list apps such as To Do can be effective or you can look at project management apps like Monday.com or asana.com. I use a combination of To Do and Asana but there are loads out there, many with a free option so try them and see what works for you. This will allow you to keep track of those activities that have multiple steps required such as planning a birthday or working on a special project.
Display The Plan
Another useful tool is a whiteboard or noticeboard. The plan for the week can be put up and people can track what they’ve done or move things around to reschedule them. I utilise a 2 whiteboard setup – 1 for long term goals and objectives for each of the different areas of my life and the other for working and tracking activity. A good whiteboard session with a group (family or work) often helps everyone get clear on what’s going on. It’s also easy to gather around when the plan needs to change. Miro.com is a useful online whiteboard tool if you’re in a dispersed location.
Finally, with all this in place hopefully, you can relax a bit knowing that everyone knows what’s going on and when, and therefore focus on what you need to do and not worry so much about when and how things will get done. This should make for a smoother week, and if something goes wrong pull out the plan with everyone and re-organise.
The new world we live in requires us to be more adaptable and flexible than ever before and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon so let’s make the ups and downs as smooth as possible.
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