Saturday, January 24, 2015

Life Organization

I’ve been on a Life Organization kick. I’m not sure how or why this started, but I’m certainly glad it did. It’s made me more productive.

I’ve always been a list type person. My normal MO is to start with a “brain dump” system using a spiral notebook that sits on my desk — and this won’t change. I do need somewhere for whatever I’m thinking to “land.”

Where my process has morphed is in how the information is applied after the initial “dumping.” 

I came to the conclusion a long time ago that if I want to be productive, my lists have to reside on my computer(s)/phone. That’s where I look all day. That’s where I go to find junk. And my lists are constantly reprioritizing. If I write them down on paper, I’m constantly rewriting, etc. And do you know how hard it is for me to remember to bring the lists I’ve made when I run out of the house? Impossible.

Plus, forget bringing a huge binder/organizer with me. I already carry my camera, as I’m sure most people don't. I really don’t want to add on any more weight to my purse.

My organizing re-vamp focused on what I’m doing (because that obviously works for me) and tweaking it to make it better.

It started with collecting the items that come into my life. In an accessible place so that I can quickly refer back to things without too much trouble. I wanted a place to gather: calendar, email, receipts, journal entries (because I’ve always been a big journaler, but I found that I’m much more likely to journal if I’m typing. The quickness of putting the thoughts out there and such), blog posts, notes from the kids’ schools, every other piece of paper that “collects” in my office. Plus I needed to organize the notes on my phone: The To Do lists, bits of quotes that I’d like to think/reflect on, links etc.

I looked at several different programs and nothing fit what I wanted. Those that came close were expensive. And I’m cheap (let’s face it). If it’s not exactly what I want, I not going to spend the money.

I kept saying: I need something like Scrivener, but for my life. And then, after checking out hundreds of programs, it hit me: just use Scrivener. I already owned it, first off. And second, I know how to customize it to do everything I want.

Yeah, I wasn’t too swift with that lighting bolt idea. Ha.

Side note: Scrivener is AMAZING. I honest to god don’t know how anyone manages to put together a novel in Word. I used to do it, used to love it, and now after switching to Scrivener… yeah, impossible.

The organization kick started with making a Scrivener file where everything could land. I have the daily section (organized by month) where every day gets a new page that I can journal on. Hooked to that are things that happen each day (PDFs of important email, blog posts, status updates, notes from school, kids grades, receipts that need to be saved — everything is scannable), so that I can look back and/or reference them later.

I split the screen for my daily To Do. So it’s always there on the right side of my screen. On my To Do I have today’s list as well as sections for “future,” and other areas like “house projects,” “office,” or “random.” Things that have to get done at some point, but not today. That way if I have a little bit of time, I reference it. Works great! I’ve knocked some long-term items off already. And others stay on my mind so that I’m planning towards them.

Inside the binder portion (outside of the daily), I have sections for things like: copies of past calendars (I do look back to reference stuff — and my calendars are all synced online. I have one calendar with Steven so he can put anything on his phone and it auto updates to my computer), blog stuff, any notes that are not needed on the go, like copies of field trip notices, tax stuff, or random ideas.

Scrivener also has the ability to create collections. Collections. Are. Awesome. Both in a general sense that if you’re writing a book it’s great to be able to look at, let’s say, one specific timeline instead of the whole novel. Using a collection when you have a daily journal allows you to collect highlights, or things you don’t want to lose, or pretty much anything for easy finding.

Seriously, why did I not do this a long time ago?!

I also created a separate scrivener file for my book ideas. I had always been pretty organized with those. They were categorized. But creating a Scrivener file allows me to flip through them without having to open individual files. I also can store all the photographs that inspire ideas there (either attached to the page, or in a separate picture section). I can scan and store all the doodles I make in this binder too. Or collect news articles that inspire an idea.

There are notes I want access to all the time. Things like grocery or store lists, or furniture ideas with measurements (for some reason I need to know the measurements of certain areas in my house a LOT). I also collect a lot of links in my notes because I see an article online and don’t have time to read it right then.

For those things I started to use Evernote. I opened up an Evernote account in 2009 and then promptly did NOTHING with it. That wasn’t my brightest moment. I know that now that I’m actually using it. It’s an amazing program! And you can set up the clipping feature to auto save the links to web pages you want to come back to. Seriously fantastic.

People. My desk is clean. My phone is clean. EVERYTHING IS CLEAN! And I know where all the information is when I need it. ;)


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