Keep Work, Study & Your Personal Life in Separate Systems
After looking at the many parts of my life that are important to me, I decided to organize them separately. As great as the thought of having everything in one place sounds – Will you be really capable of keeping an overview of dozens and dozens of items at a glance?
Of course many areas in our life overlap, but keeping the organizational part separately helps to keep an overview. At work I use Outlook Tasks, Outlook Calendar and Post it notes. For my master's program on the side I work with Slack, Trello, Asana and Google Calendar. Privately I work with Google Calendar and reminders on my phone.
Below I will explain the benefits of each of the tools I use to stay organized. This is not a complete list but tools that I have been using for some time and which help me tackle certain challenges.
Make Your Tasks Tangible with Post it Notes
Our development team works agile and many walls are covered with Post it notes. One of the nicest things about that: You can literally grab a task and move it around. I use Post it notes to split up projects into small steps. After a step is completed, I can move it to my "Done" section and concentrate on the next step. That is quite satisfying. I also use different colored notes for different projects to keep them apart.
|Photo: David Travis|
See the Tasks for Today in Microsoft Tasks
At work I've added "Tasks" to my Outlook sidebar. It's great for seeing upcoming deadlines and for setting reminders. I can also set alarms for each task so that it will pop up on my screen. Tasks can also be set as recurring so that they will appear again after a set time. This is great for weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks.
Set up More than Meetings in Microsoft Calendar
While this is the calendar for all my meetings and calls at work I will use it for more than that. Block time slots with yourself to prepare for important meetings or for going for a run during lunch break. This way you are blocked for invitations and win back some control over your time. I've seen colleagues insert their leaving time into Outlook so others could see when they would not be available anymore. Smart.
Working with Big Teams in Slack
Slack is the main communication tool for my master's program. I love how a big group of students can effectively interact in groups, share files and work on projects together. Each subject has its so-called channel and on top we do group work in private conversations. It's worth taking a look.
Organizing Tasks in Trello
This Kanban-inspired tool is our main organization tool from our lecturers to us. All our tasks are organized in cards. They are like Post it notes but better as they have all materials we need linked or attached. This gives us a good general overview of what we need to do and we can also see what will come.
|Trello in action|
Google Calendar Unites Private Appointments and Study
I've connected my private calendar to that of my university and now I have all courses and private appointments in one calendar. It makes sense for me to combine these two as they both take place outside office hours. That way I can check easily whether I am available for friends in the evening or whether I have an online course.
Asana Lists all My University Tasks
I use this app as my task board for university. While Trello lists all tasks for all students, I only insert the ones from my courses into Asana. Each subject has it's own column and I break down the tasks from Trello into small chunks for me here. I can see what needs to be done for each subject and can tick tasks off.
Reminders on my Phone Save me Daily
If I don't write stuff down, I will forget about them for sure. Need to dress nicely for a business meeting? My phone will remind me in the morning at around the time I know I will get dressed. Have a workout during lunch break? My phone will remind me to pack my workout clothes. Promised a book to a coworker? My phone will tell me. The less I need to remember these days, the better!
These are my go-to tools. How do you stay organized? Do you have simpler solutions? I think I could still improve my strategy.