Monday, October 20, 2014

How I Stay Organized (Without a Single Sheet of Paper)


How to stay organized without using a paper planner!  This is great if you need a different way to stay organized or if you're a tech junkie.


It seems like paper planners are "the thing" to have right now.  I see people on Instagram all the time talking about how organized they are because of ____________ planner.  You fill in the blank - there are tons out there!

But personally, it just isn't for me.  If having a paper planner keeps you more organized, more power to you!  Keep on keeping on.  But I tried it for about 6 months and couldn't do it.  Several years ago, I took the blogger bait and tried out an Erin Condren planner.  It was "the" planner to have at that time, so I just had to see what all the fuss was about.  It certainly was pretty and had a great layout.  But, a few issues I had (and really would have had with any paper planner)...

-It was bulky.  I hated having to keep up with this massive planner.
-It got messy for me.  The big issue is that, with blogging and blog design, flexibility is key.  I found myself constantly scratching out/reassigning tasks and to-dos, and I ended up with more scribbles on a page than words.  That made it really difficult to use.
-If I left it at home, I didn't know which way to go! :)  I like having my planner/to-do list available at any time.  I've said it before - if I don't have these available at all times, I might not remember to wake up in the morning.  I'm seriously dependent on a calendar/to-do list.
-Those planners aren't cheap!  I wanted a method that didn't require a big purchase.

So, after a few months of really giving the paper planner a chance, I decided to try another organizational method.  Believe it or not - I don't use a single sheet of paper or a single pen to do this!  This has worked so well for me for a few years now, so I thought I'd share it with y'all.

The two main things that really make this work are my calendar app on my Macbook Pro/iPhone and an app called Wunderlist.  I've mentioned this one before - it's a free, simple, no-fuss to-do list app that I absolutely love.  The reminders app the comes standard on iPhones is good too, but I prefer Wunderlist because of a few features it has (the ability to prioritize to-do list items being the big one).  Of course, any calendar app and to-do list app would work...there are tons of great free ones out there no matter what smartphone/computer you use.

For my calendar:

I kind of consider my calendar app the "big picture," whereas Wunderlist is how I organize the smaller day-to-day details (more on that below).  As events, work projects, and other scheduled items come up, I put them on the Mac calendar.  Also, as I think of ideas for blog posts or schedule sponsored posts, I put them on the calendar in a tentative date.  If it's just something that needs to be completed at any point that day, I make it an all-day event (right click your event, select "get info," click the date, and select "all day").  If it's something that needs to be done at a specific time that day, I set it for that specific time.

How to stay organized without using a paper planner!  This is great if you need a different way to stay organized or if you're a tech junkie.


Here's what my calendar looked like as of yesterday (I've erased a few things for privacy reasons, but you get the idea).  I have a color code on here: blue is blog posts, red is blog design, gray is for our rental condo, purple is for sponsored social media posts I've agreed to do, and green is for home/personal events.  If an item is yellow, that means I've completed it.  This is kind of my version of having colored pens for your paper planner. :)

This method is so great if you need a flexible schedule.  A lot of times I don't get finished with a certain blog post or a sponsored post launch gets moved - so I pick it up and drag it to the new day.  Simple as that - no scratching out or rewriting.  It's also so easy to look at this and see what I've got on my plate for a current week.  By making all of the finished items the same color, I can quickly see what's left for that week.

For my to do list:

Like I mentioned, while the calendar is my "big picture," Wunderlist is how I organize the smaller details of each week.  I have kind of a Sunday night ritual: I sit down with my calendar and add each item to be done that week (blog posts, blog designs) as an item on my to-do list.  I also add cleaning projects for that week (from my cleaning schedule post...I actually pull up that post on my blog every single Sunday to make my list for the week!).  I organize all of these tasks into what needs to be done each day.  Then, I star the items that need to be done Monday.  That way, it's easy to quickly look at the list and know what needs to be done that day.

How to stay organized without using a paper planner!  This is great if you need a different way to stay organized or if you're a tech junkie.



I check off items as they're finished.  Then, at the end of each day, I take a look at my to do list and star what needs to be done the next day.  So on, and so forth.

I usually try to overbook my Monday-Thursday to make sure I have everything done before the weekend.  I rarely finish everything that's starred on those days, but it gives me a little bit more motivation to really get a lot accomplished.  If it doesn't get done one day, I keep it starred for the next day.  Friday is my overflow day - anything that doesn't get finished Monday-Thursday is a Friday project.

Of course new things get added as the week goes on.  Wunderlist makes it so easy to quickly drop something else in (and I promise this post isn't sponsored by Wunderlist...I just really like the app!).  I just pop it into the list where I'd like to get it done.  Way easier than having to jot a note out to the side of a paper to-do list.

Both the calendar app and Wunderlist sync to both my phone and my computer...so, even if I'm not at home, I always have access to both.  No need to remember to bring an additional planner since I always have my phone with me.  I have the Wunderlist app on my computer too, which sinks effortlessly with my phone.  And, since Mac Calendar is an app on both my phone and computer, it's just a click away too.

So there you have it.  It is possible to stay organized without a fancy schmancy planner, I promise!  This method is totally free (given that you already use a smartphone and computer), doesn't require extra paper/pens/supplies, and really just does work better for me than a paper planner.  Hope it helps some of y'all out there, too!