Over these past few week we've been hearing hearing the common theme: I DON'T KNOW HOW TO MANAGE THE TIME. As we're rolling into the holidays everyone's calendar's get a little crazy, and battling that killer combo of "calendar + to do list" seems to be on the top of everyone's mind. Which is why we've called in our resident organization expert: Emily Holmes who is an office management guru that rocks at doing 15 things at once, and looking fabulous while doing it. Check out more of her rad credentials in her bio at the bottom of this post.
You know that moment when you're juggling about 10,000 balls and you’re just waiting for one of them to come crashing down on your head? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there — whether you're the business owner or the "office mom" like I am, multi-tasking like a pro is one way to to stay on top of your busy schedule. And while multi-tasking can help, it can also be stressful if you're not doing it strategically. Here are my favorite time-saving apps to help you multi-task smarter, and get back some time in your day:
1. Contain the Calendar:
Missing a meeting, or being double booked is one of the most stressful things that can happen, and it’s also one of the easiest thing to do; one meeting is on your work calendar, and one is on your personal, and still just scribbled on a post-it on your monitor. Sunrise is an App/Chrome Extension that will combine every calendar or program you’re using and put it all on one, easy to manage calendar. You can link your personal, you work, and even your significant others calendars. Not to mention you can link a ton of your accounts, from Facebook and Twitter, to Github, Evernote, or Tripit. Now you have one place that you can look for ALL of meetings, birthdays, happy hours, etc.
Additionally, get in the habit of asking people to send you calendar invites/sending your own. If you’re like me you live by the motto “if it’s not on my calendar it doesn’t exist.” I know it may seem weird to ask your best friend to send you a meeting maker for the movie on Friday, or to send your sister an invite for coffee, but hey, it has to be done. Eventually everyone else will get used to it.
2. Scrap the Scribbles:
I am notorious for remembering something that I need to do at a completely random moment, like when I’m on the phone with a vendor, or ordering my 2nd latte of the day. When that happens it’s so easy to jot something down on a post-it and stick it on your computer, or to write it in a margin, on a receipt, on the back of your hand, and pray you remember it later. (Only to eventually be hit in the head by one of those 10,000 juggling balls).
Get a system in place: Any.do is also an App/Chrome Extension that gets your to-do list in check. You can organize by types of tasks, priority level, specific deadlines, etc. Also, you can speak your tasks into your phone. I use that feature all the time. When I’m walking through the office and see a giant stain on the carpet I can just say: "Remember to call building maintenance," instead of stopping what I’m doing to type it in (Who has time for that?). It will then sync between my phone, desktop, tablet, etc, so my list is always at my fingertips.
You should also consider keeping a notebook. I love these colorful Poppin Notebooks, and keep a pen tucked inside in my purse at all times. When I’m in a really crazy week, it often makes it’s way onto my bedside table too. That way I can jot down ideas or brainstorming if I'm having trouble sleeping. Every couple of days I go back through my recent pages and flag things I want to revisit, and enter my tasks into Any.do.
3. Wiggle Your Workload:
Who said you can only work 9 to 5? I can’t do just one thing for 8 hours, my life simply doesn’t work that way. Also, sometimes when I have a deadline, need to learn to how to code in HTML, pick up the dry cleaning, pay the bills, make dinner, and send those 30 emails — life suddenly feels very hard and I miss my couch and my dog, and I really want a glass of wine. Is that just me? On days like this it is so easy to get overwhelmed, or let things fall through the cracks. When I’m in a day/week/project like that I try to break things up:
- I love to get up early and knock out all my emails before anyone else’s alarm has gone off, it does two things: 1- It cleans out your inbox first thing in the AM, and clears up all your back correspondence. 2- It makes people assume you’re a working machine!
- I’m pretty sure I’ve got every “lazy man” app available on my phone, and use them all to help with the miscellaneous day to day chores that often fall to the wayside when I’m busy. Now I can schedule postmates to pick up my dry cleaning, munchery to deliver my dinner, and run through all my bills, all while I sit in traffic, or on the bus, or while grabbing my 3th latte of the day. Most of these have a service fee, but if you use them during off hours they’re not too expensive (or try not to use them daily). Even if you live in a place where you don’t have access to all of these amazing services, you should at least be able to pay your bills on your phone while you’re running errands.
- When I’m really stressed about a project I take a break. Yes, that sounds counter productive but it clears my head and helps me refocus. It could be a fast trip for that 4th latte I don’t need, or I might head home and have dinner. Then I can settle into that couch I missed, with a glass of wine, and really dive into the HTML I need learn so that I can finish my project. The change of scenery from office to home can really change your outlook, and save you from feeling so overwhelmed. What if you work from home? Just switch it up, and instead of go to a cafe, or library for a bit.
Not every one of these tip will work for everyone, but be willing to test drive a few options. Once you’ve found something that works stick to it. Calendar time to go through your notebook, and tick off things on your to-do list. No matter what, with process and routine we can all become master jugglers. Let us know if you’ve got any sure-fire time management tips in the comments below!
Emily Holmes is a San Francisco native, and proud of it. When she's not baking cupcakes, drinking too much wine, or running around the city, she's playing Office Mom. With 10+ years of Office Management (Office Momagent?) experience for major brands, she's a master multi-tasker and the go-to when it comes to putting out any fire.
Get FULL Access to our Resource Library
Get FULL ACCESS to our curated and most powerful worksheets!