I have now been following my new ‘get organised’ schedule for two weeks. When I began this process I gave my default stress level as a seven out of ten – quite high, I think you would agree; and it would regularly top out to around seventy out of ten when I was particularly busy. Well, after getting myself in order over the past two weeks, I can now say that my default stress level has dropped to about a three. Which is fantastic, and has done wonderful things for my general mood and ability to get things done in a timely manner.
The general set-up
Rather than living my life buried under half-completed to-do lists, I have taken control with a bit of scheduling and planning. I now have a master to-do list, that contains all my upcoming deadlines, broken down into stages of how to complete them. This to-do list is printed out and stuck to the wall near my desk, and as I complete each stage of each project, it gets marked off.
My weekly schedule is set out in Excel. It includes timeslots for all the things I have to do on a weekly basis, which remain largely unchanged from week to week, as well as a list of things that need to be completed each day (such as ‘put the bins out’ on Tuesday evenings, etc). The majority of each day is left blank and at the start of each week I have sat down with the weekly schedule and the master deadline list, and slotted each task into the schedule so that everything is complete at the end of the week. Sounds simple, but for disorganised people like me, this is an absolute godsend. Thus I have my week planned out.
The best thing that has come out of this, is that at the end of the work day, I’m able to switch off my computer, close my office door and relax. I am able to clearly see what I’ve achieved during the day, how much progress has been made on my projects, and no longer have that panicky feeling that I’m going to forget something or run out of time, because I know that everything that needs to be done this week has been allotted some time.
It has helped me form a routine outside of work responsibilities too. I’ve been doing a weekly shop on Sundays and menu planning lunch and dinner for the week, so I know what needs to be pulled from the freezer in the morning, and who is responsible for cooking each night. After a bit of trial and error I’ve worked out the best way to fit daily things into the day so that everything runs smoothly: such as, starting work earlier so that I can take ninety minutes to walk the dog mid-morning (before he starts getting disruptive – then he sleeps all day); and get to the gym in the evenings before dinner. Beforehand I would find myself walking the dog in the dark, wondering where the day had gone, and heading to the gym so late that I couldn’t relax before bed.
To be honest there haven’t been many so far. I’ve had to be really rigid with myself, because I’m like an unruly child: give me an inch and I’ll take a mile. But I’ve also had to ensure there is an hour of ‘dead air’ each week scheduled in so that I have a buffer to catch up on something I may have missed. This seems to have worked so far.
Things to work on
The main thing I still have to work on is being strict with myself when FruGuy is around. He usually works from home one day a week, and that used to mean going out for breakfast and me treating the day like a bonus weekend, because, look! There’s someone to talk to for a change! TALK TO THEM! Which invariably meant losing a day of my actual weekend because I’m running late. So there’s still work to do, but this is progress, people! I also want to buy a white board for my office so that my master to-do list is easier to manage.
I’ll update you again at the end of the month, hopefully with more good news!