This post was originally published on Logee Photography on February 5, 2016. It has been re-posted here with permission.
With this year comes a big realization for me: I’m a workaholic and I like it that way.
I love being busy, making things, and just generally having my days full. Without a long list ahead of me, I tend to get bored and my creativity just seems to dry up. Though there’s a time and a place for being quiet and still, it’s not in my overall day-to-day.
This leaves me with an average of 4 part-time jobs and 1-2 volunteer projects at any given time. With a workload like that, things can get out of control fairly quickly, but thankfully, being organized is one of my favourite things and probably the main drive behind why I love diving into work.
With every passing year, I learn new ways of being organized and tactics for tackling all the objectives of my various jobs. Since many of my friends are fellow handmade business owners, I thought I would share some of the tools & tricks I use to keep on track and enjoy the process and life at the same time.
The Two Minute Rule
If a task comes up that will only take you two minutes to complete, complete it right away. You don’t have to drop everything to do so, but as soon as you have completed your current task, it’s time to finish off that two minute task.
Two minute tasks are clutter if you don’t deal with them right away. They build up in your mind and if you’re anything like me, this can create huge anxiety and problems. Don’t let those two minute tasks get to you by taking them out as soon as possible.
A Real To-Do List That Works For You
When I got my smartphone years ago, the first thing I did was download a to-do list app. I would spend some time tapping in a whole host of action items, and I would dutifully tick the “complete” box on every task as I got them done. They’d disappear and I would be left with a list of things I had yet to do.
This was the big problem – I never felt like I was getting anywhere.
Though I’m a big fan of minimalism, it doesn’t make sense for a to-do list. As the completed tasks disappear, the sense of having accomplished something goes with it. It was necessary for me to have a list, but I needed to have a tangible sense of getting things done.
The solution was a notebook and a pen. As I complete tasks, I get the simple pleasure of scratching through the line. As the day moves on, I can see at a glance how much I’ve completed and which items are still on the list.
I have a rule for this, too: never more than two pages are open at a time. This means if I have to start a new sheet, I must revisit the incomplete items on my to-do list. If I still have the desire to complete the task, it moves to the new page. If I don’t see myself actually completing it, I scratch it out and leave it off the page. It’s a great way to evaluate the projects I’m working on and what’s actually bringing meaning to my work.
Every platform imaginable is jumping on the cloud bandwagon, but I know there’s still a lot of mystery around the term. I urge you to take a few moments out of your life and check out various options for cloud computing.
Simply put, the cloud is just a broad term for storing your personal data and documents remotely, somewhere where you can access them at any time, without having to use your personal computer or carry around an extra memory stick to do so.
Google Drive continues to be my favourite platform. Aside from the fact it comes with a generous amount of disk space, it has built-in apps for managing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. You can also share files with other people, which makes it easy to collaborate and complete tasks that would otherwise require a lot of emails and attachments back and forth.
The best part is it syncs with things on my home computer. If I move some of my documents around, minutes later, it’s also available on Google Drive. For instance, I have a folder on my computer called “Instagram.” When I finish preparing a photo for posting, I drop it into that folder. Then, I open up the Drive app on my phone, navigate to the Instagram folder and it’s there, ready for me to download and post via the Instagram app. I don’t have to email it to myself, or plug in and sync my phone. What used to take some time, only takes a moment.
Though I might be happy with the busy life I’ve chosen, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy to be busy all the time. I really struggled with this in the last few years, but finally hit my stride last fall when I learned to say “no” and take time just for me.
Other people work 9-5, which doesn’t work for me. But I can easily keep myself to a 40-hour work week like a normal person. This means, for several hours a day and especially on weekends, I do what I want, guilt-free.
This is especially hard for those of us handmade business people. We’re eager to interact and be available to our customers, but sometimes that takes a lot away from our own mental health and life enjoyment.
So step away from the computer sometimes. Leave your phone at home, or at least turn off notifications. Let yourself relax in front of the TV, or take the dog for a walk in peace.
Personally, I have puppy days! I’ll spend a whole day doing nothing but just playing with my dogs. I look forward to it as much as they do and if I’ve put them off for a day, Mouse will definitely let me know through a series of passive-aggressive demonstrations.
There’s nothing worse than when your puppy is mad at you!
I hope you find these tips helpful, and if you have your own favourite life-management technique, please share it in the comments!