As a mom who works both in the office and at home, I have organization issues. First of all, I have multiple clients and multiple projects at the same time and tend to jump from one project to another. I write articles, have deadlines, have major projects going at the same time. I have boxes of business cards that need to be filed with data that needs to be dumped onto spreadsheets, one of my biggest grievances.
Oh, and did I mention the kids? They rank into the equation, too. Kids ages 7 & 8 have a lot going on and a lot to keep track of, and I have to admit that I have forgotten to pick them up. But don’t we all have those MOMents?
Growing up, my mom had a business and worked from home for many years. I have vivid memories of her boiling a big pot of coffee and taking cup after cup into her bedroom. Her bed was covered with papers with notes and phone numbers sprawled on them. She was an entrepreneur and wildly successful and a terrific role model in every way. But she wasn’t organized. Well, I correct that. She was organized. She could locate a specific piece of paper anytime she needed to! But most of all, everything she needed was in her head.
So, that’s where I got it. Because for me, it’s all in my head, too. Everything I know. But it doesn’t mean that I should follow in her footsteps. Especially in today’s digital age.
So, when I was contacted by D&D Solutions, organizational consultants based in Westchester, for an assessment, I jumped. Their mission is “to help you get organized and regain control, whether it be your business, your home, or your life.” I was eager to get suggestions, both offline and online, to see where my missteps are and how I can improve this very messy situation (or that’s how it was perceived in my mind).
Dana & Diane, the company’s owners, arranged a time to meet with me and showed up (on time, of course, that would not look good if organization professionals were late!) to spend an hour with me to get to know me and my work. I showed them my company sites, my one notebook, my files (all on the computer). Dana and Diane believe in the 80/20 rule –concentrating on and solving 20% of the issues that are impeding your success will produce 80% of your results. This rule should serve as a daily reminder to focus the majority of your time and energy on that which is really important. That is what I need in my life – priorities.
After getting to know me and my style, they went away and came back to me very promptly and efficiently with strategies to simplify my work life. Their suggestions were thorough and well thought out and I want to include a few here that I am trying to faithfully keep:
- Purchase a time tracking notebook. I tried using an app but never updated it. This idea seemed more efficient. I’d buy a lovely notebook and record my hours. I have to admit that I did record my hours for the first few weeks but it has subsided. I do plan/hope to get back to it, or maybe try that app again? I do get paid by the hour by one client, so I need to know my hours. That I know.
- Buy separate notebooks each project/client. I went to Staple’s and bought some art deco notebooks and I’ve been switching between each one and bought a fancy box to put them in. A lot of what I do is on the computer, and I use Drop Box now, but it’s good to have my notes separated, and I am using them.
- Set up an online calendar. I was doing this before but now I’m more rigid about it and have it hooked up to my iPhone. I get reminders about everything. The only problem is that I don’t always check it the day or week before and events pop up on me without much notice. I just have to get used to it, after keeping a paper calendar for so many years.
Since our meeting, I’m now using HootSuite more efficiently and other online tools to measure my social media success, and I’m taking a course to better improve my metrics skills. I’m using apps to get better organized like Cozi and am really trying to streamline. I’m definitely practically paper free, I only have a few files and folders, but I still like to write in my new, inspiring notebooks. Dana & Diane gave me great suggestions for keeping a lot of what I do digital, since that is what my life and work consist of, so I’ve cleaned up spreadsheets and I’m working on the creating a digital file for each business card (by using an app! How genius is that?).
I highly recommend D&D Solutions if you’re lacking organization in your life. Less clutter, whether it be paper or not, can slow your work performance down. It slowed me down and I’m much more efficient now.
Of course, I am still FAR from organized. But at least I’m making more of an effort to be that I used to.
But have I mentioned that sometimes I like to work from my bed? (Like mother, like daughter).
Disclosure: I received a free assessment but all opinions expressed are my own.