#RosiesRoundup: Saving time, saving sanity
So this week’s round-up comes to you from someone living life on the edge of the juggle. As a working mum with a tweenager (that’s a whole another blog), a 9-year-old sports/nature/Xbox junkie and a husband who is largely elsewhere Monday to Friday, it’s vital that I organise life with military precision.
Rin once referred to me as ‘The Puppet Master’ and it’s true that I have endless projects on the go at the same time, a mixture of work, pleasure and down right tedious jobs that have to be done. But behind every great organiser there is a whole heap of support - in my case apps, systems and good old lists! Here are a few of my favourites.
Save time, be appy
Whether I’m running between meetings, on the train to Bristol or supervising homework with one eye while making dinner and checking my phone, I find using the app version of things I normally access on my desktop a brilliant way to keep organised.
As a business we use Trello as a project management tool - we can see work come in and follow our process. It doesn’t matter what time or where someone is working, I can see exactly how each individual piece of copy is progressing. When my phone pings to let me know a writer has completed a piece and it’s ready for edit, I can pop the card in the editing list and alert the editor all while stirring the pasta sauce and attempting to remember how long multiplication is done.
When it comes to major projects we also have to monitor our time carefully to manage operating costs. Whether I’m having a quick check through my emails or sending some copy over to a client from the train, with Toggle I can simply click go and assign that time to a particular client or project. When you work flexibly - especially in the school holidays where you may have to step away from your desk to taxi a child somewhere - it's a great way of making sure you keep on track with your hours.
Reading, writing and sharing
We manage all the copy we produce for our clients using Google Docs and the phone app is another winner for this. It’s a time-saver when I don’t want to open my laptop but need to check the writer has delivered on a deadline. I love the fact that I can hop on and extend access to another contact for a client without needing to be at my desk. Put simply, it allows you to offer a seamless service for your customers when working flexibly.
I’m an avid reader of online content but having a pen and paper to hand or even jotting a note on your phone isn’t always practical. That’s why I love Pocket. Whether it’s the kit list attachment for the school trip, a LinkedIn article I started before getting interrupted by the phone, or a recipe I want to save for my shopping list, one click lets me add it to my pocket. Then later - even if I’m offline - I can pick up where I left off. Perfect for standing in queues, sitting in the car at school pick ups and when you’re in a tunnel on the train.
Looking after the pennies
Another app shout out goes to Xero Expenses. Thanks to this neat little add-on to the original Xero app, my handbag is no longer a Tardis for scrumpled receipts and train tickets. It means you can take snaps of your receipts and upload them straight to Xero. Simply select what it is for, attribute it to the relevant cost centre and off it goes. It also tells you when the expense has been approved and paid. Life is easier for me and hugely so for our lovely accounts team - way less nagging.
Oh and that reminds me - special mention to the Trainline app, which lets you buy your tickets and add them to your wallet in about five seconds. No more queueing for the machine and entering codes plus it’s way better for the environment than printing stuff out.
Organising the diary
As someone who has always loved paper diaries, I was definitely a late adopter of iCal but I love the seamless syncing of my work and home diaries. No more meeting clashes because there’s an orthodontist appointment I forgot about! I can book briefings in for myself and other members of the team to attend and check who is working when. I also run a family diary so I can tell my kids what’s going on and when - no more excuses for not setting alarms when you have an early weekend drama rehearsal.
At home we do still operate a paper system for very busy weeks and I know Liz has a white board for her four kids. We use a weekly planner page and try to organise it every Sunday. I find this especially useful if Grandma is coming to help out - I can pop all the child taxi-ing required, where dinner is hidden in the fridge and give the kids some responsibility for not forgetting their swim kit when I’m not there to remind them.
Creating a system
Years ago I was lucky enough to attend a two-day 7 Habits of Highly Effective People course, based on the book by Stephen Covey. The key out take, which I still use today, is pen and paper based and is the perfect thing to do when overwhelm descends.
Grab a piece of paper and split things into four categories:
Urgent and important
Urgent not important
Important but not urgent
Not important and not urgent
Do them in this order and you’ll be far more efficient than if you jumped around doing whatever popped into your head first. This definitely helps me see through the fog!
That’s not to say that it always runs smoothly, of course. Rest assured it all hangs together by a string and when the unexpected happens (sick child, bad weather, cancelled train etc etc) it takes ingenuity, calling in favours and the thoughtfulness of a boss who is all about flexible working… with a dash of late nights at my Macbook.
But it’s the same for everyone, right? We are inundated with ‘lean in’ and ‘having it all’. Whether you believe you can or you can’t, should or shouldn’t, a bit of solidarity on a tough day is nice. I’m currently reading ‘The Mother of all Jobs’ in which Christine Armstrong narrates real-life stories on the juggle and offers some wisdom from those who have been there done that.
Right, with two weeks annual leave on the horizon. I’m off to get organised and leave things ticking along nicely in my absence. See you on the other side!
Want to read more? Try this - Rosie’s Roundup That Self Development Thing