Organization

Why Friday is the Best Day for Weekly Planning

Productivity experts have been preaching about weekly planning for years. And most of them will tell you to do your planning on Sundays. I used to be one of them.

The thinking was that you should already have your week planned out by Monday. That way, you could wake up and hit the ground running. No time wasted on deciding what to do.

friweeklyplan.jpg

And it's not a terrible theory. Monday and Tuesday are our most productive days of the week, after all. You don't want to waste them.

But here's why the productivity experts are wrong: Sunday is a terrible planning day.

It is.

First of all, Sundays are on a weekend. We fill our weekends with projects, social engagements and family time. For many of us, it's  also an opportunity to catch up on leisure activities. Not task planning.

Are you a workaholic? For me, Sunday is an opportunity to dig into my business and get a lot done. Why would I block out an hour or two in the middle of this glorious, productive day, to plan my week?

Here's the thing. Planning is REALLY important for success. But we need to do it on a less intrusive day.

Why Friday?

  • It's the least productive day of the week. Turn your unproductive Friday afternoons into productive planning and thinking time!

  • You can schedule your appointments and meetings for the next week ahead of time. People will usually get back to you with confirmation before they leave the office for the day.

  • You can allocate time for your goals. Block this time for deep work and high value projects into your week so you can make solid progress on your goals. Things are bound to pop up, but don't let them distract you from your master plan.

  • Knowing there's a plan for Monday will take away any worries or stress about the next week over the weekend.

  • You can schedule more purposeful leisure time over the weekend.

I urge you to give this a try. Break the Sunday weekly planning cycle and join me in the glory of Friday planning. You're going to love it. 

Talk soon,

first sig draft.jpg

PS- If your week is atypical, Friday may not work for you. I get it. So then, look at your life and determine what your least productive, lowest energy day is, and choose THAT day. That's your planning day. 

PPS- If you DO try it, I would love to hear how it worked for you. Leave a comment below and tell me about it! 

 

7 Quick Organizing Projects that will Make You Better at Life

A few weeks ago, I unleashed a beast. The library debuted its first digital template: the Household Manager Notebook. And, it is seriously changing lives. 

This is the perfect start to creating your digital brain (more on that here). And it will actually make your life easier. All you have to do is fill it in. 

There are countless projects inside, of course, but I thought we'd keep it simple today. I will highlight 7 of my favorite projects you can do inside the HHMN. 

I chose them based on optimization. They'll give you an organization boost in fairly little time. And you'll reference them again and again in the coming months.

So, let's get to started! First on the list:

1) Record Your Family Medical Histories. 

If you don't already have some sort of document to track each family member's health history, you need to do this now. And if you do, make it digital and sharable by keying it into the HHMN! 

This is for yourself and any immediate family members/pets living in your household. It's endlessly useful to have key health information on hand when you're out and about. 

The purpose of this is to have access to ACCURATE and COMPLETE records at all times. You can answer a question at the pharmacy and compare notes with your doctors. You can use it to fill out school forms and sports releases on the fly. In case of emergency, you can email a copy of your kid's medical history to a college roommate or a spouse. The uses for this are never-ending. 

Not sure where to start? That section of the notebook has a template ready to go. 

2) Update Your Contacts

The HHMN includes an address book section. But it's so much more than that! You can segment your contacts, like a traditional address book, but you can also keep notes on people. 

For example, this is a great place to keep notes on all those tiny weird things you learn about the humans in your life. Things like, Aunt Sally's favorite beer is X. Or Jimmy is allergic to strawberries. Maybe you want to record your Aunt's favorite color or your Dad's favorite rock artist from the 70s. 

Right now, you may be wondering, "Katie, why are you telling me to keep files on people?"

Because it will make you a better host/friend/co-pilot. Your brain is not a storage container and it can be hard to keep up with everyone's preferences. But if you have a place where you keep note of these items, you can do a quick review before you buy their next gift. Use it to design the menu for your next gathering or sneak a fun personal touch if you're hosting out of town guests. 

7 quick.jpg

This will prevent disasters. Like that time I bought one of my closest friends post earrings for her birthday. Who doesn't have pierced ears...

I also allows me to have a 6 pack of an uncle's favorite beer on ice next to his recliner when I host the Super Bowl. It's the reason I never gift my sister-in-law mixed nuts (anymore). 

You get the idea. Having these reminders in a little file makes things easier. 

And while you're in there updating names and addresses, make sure you fill in the mailing list section. This is your holiday card/wedding guest list/shower invitation spreadsheet. Now you know how many cards/invitations you need. And you can print the labels straight from the spreadsheet. 

3) Make Your Home Inventory

Whether you rent or own, your insurance will need a home inventory in case of disaster. Whether your roof gets ripped off by a tornado, or you're the victim of a robbery, it's best to be prepared. 

And it will make replacing these items a heck of a lot easier. We have a spreadsheet ready for you to fill in to make it simple. This should be updated twice a year. 

4) Make a Light Bulb Key

While you're running around your house taking inventory, fill in the light bulb key form. 

May you never go to the hardware store and feel defeated by the giant selection of light bulbs again. Never! You'll always know what you need with this key. 

5) Tackle Home Maintenance

Inside the HHMN, we have included recommended seasonal checklists. You can delete and add to them as you wish, they're fully customizable. 

Use this resource when you do your monthly and weekly planning so you can tackle this stuff in waves. 

6) Create a Password Keeper

This is one of those items everyone should have and most people don't. If you have ever felt the frustration of having to reset your password when you're in a hurry, you get why you need this. 

Fill it in. Don't worry if you can't get it all filled in one day, keep adding to it every time you log into a new site. Eventually, it will be complete. 

Make sure you share this with your partner/spouse so you both have the access information. You'll never have to interrupt each other at work when you're trying to take care of business again!

This will also allow you to easily change your passwords every month. Yay, security!

7) Create a Vehicle Maintenance Log

Car owners know how important maintaining their vehicle is, but many don't keep a log. Keeping track of your maintenance keeps your warranty valid. Even if you do your own oil changes, you should be able to show proof you bought the oil.

Track repairs so you can have an accurate record and plan for the future. Log expenses so you know what things will cost you. 

And scan your receipts (they're pretty much your warranty on parts). If something doesn't last as long as promised, you can get a free replacement or recoup some of your initial cost. 

We also have a spot for you to record mileage and general vehicle info in this section. 

So there you have it! Ready to get started?


Happy organizing!

xokatie.jpg

What You Need to Know to Be Awesome at Fall

The nostalgia of Fall is never lost on me. Each year, I giddily pick apples and hike through forests of changing leaves. I buy new office supplies and refresh my workspace. I embrace the chill in the air with a cute coat and a cup of hot cider. And I eat s'mores. Like, crazy amounts of s'mores. 

Of course, the best way to conquer fall is to plan for it.

I can make anything about planning, lol. Anything. 

But it's true! If you're not proactively scheduling ways to enjoy this season and prepare for the next, you won't do much.

Here are 7 things you need to do to be awesome at fall:

1) Clean and Maintain your Home. 

Every month, I publish a new list of things to do to clean and maintain your home for that time of the year. You can find it in the library! 

2) Make Your Fall Bucket List

awesomeatfall.jpg

Decide how you want to spend your time this season and put it on a bucket list! Use it when you do your weekly planning to help balance all your hard work with a little seasonal joy.


3) Schedule Some Fall Fun!

Find ideas for things to do to enjoy this month (big and small) here.  You need to choose your fun and schedule it in so the days don't pass you by. Remember, if it's not on the schedule, it doesn't get done!

4) Change Up your Recipes

For me, fall is the season of slow cooker dinners and afternoons making a perfect apple pie. Dig out your favorite fall recipes or check out my Fall Recipes Pinterest board for new ideas! 

5) Decorate Your Home

You need to freshen your environment a bit to make it really feel like Fall. Looking for inspiration? Check out my Fall Decor Ideas board on Pinterest!

6) Host a Fall Gathering

Whether it's a football tailgate, a backyard bonfire, or a fall dinner al fresco, get it done! It doesn't have to be anything big, but you need to try to bring people together to enjoy the moment. Looking for tips on how to be a good host? I'll give you a sneak peek into my entertaining playbook on the blog in a couple weeks. 

7) Prepare for the Holiday Season

I know I'm going to get some flack for this, but you should really be preparing for the holidays now. See the replay of my 10 Clever Ways to Get Ahead of the Holidays here!

Ok, you're ready! I'd love to see how you used this guide to conquer the season. Post a photo of how you were awesome at fall this year (and tag me!) on Instagram

Happy Fall!
 

XOkATIE.jpg

How to Be the Most Productive Person in the World

Getting things done (GTD) is really all about logistics.

You have a concrete number of hours in your day and how you choose to spend that time determines how you GTD. Sounds simple, right?

Not for most people. Did you know that 89% of people do not finish their daily to-do lists? It's true!

how to be the most productive person in the world.jpg

You can't make a to-do list and expect to crush the day, because, there's a lot more going on in your life than just your list.  You have countless facets of your day to manage, and a list doesn't get you very far in achieving anything. 

So, what's a busy gal to do? How do you conquer your list each day?

It all comes down to your schedule.  

Your schedule is the nexus of planning and information. It's how you do everything: your activities, meetings, events, travel, etc. 

Without your schedule, you're toast. 

It's not enough to create a to-do list.  Because, if it's not on your calendar, it's not to getting done.  You need to have your actionable tasks on your schedule.  

The most productive people in the world have schedules, not to do lists - for this exact reason!

This is why the EO Daily To-Do List has your schedule down one column and space for tasks in the column alongside it.  You have to decide what you're doing and when you're going to do it. 

That's easy enough.  But there's more! 

There's a hidden benefit to this approach because it forces you to realize your limits. It's pretty hard to have an overflowing to-do list once you run out of room on your schedule. You have to decide what to do now and what to do later. 

Which brings us to the next phase in becoming the most productive person in the world: rank your to-dos. It's not just about what's important. You have to focus on what will give you the most forward motion towards your goals

Enter the Task Priority Matrix. 

This magical worksheet will take your productivity to the next level. It forces you to make all the decisions to determine your next most important tasks (MIT). And when you're done filling it in, you have a visual representation of where everything falls into the mix. 

Basically, it's the gatekeeper.

And every schedule needs a sentinel. Nothing goes on the calendar until it's made its way through the Task Priority Matrix. Not a thing. 

See, your time is your most precious resource. If you are not using it to your greatest advantage, you're wasting it. 

The Task Priority Matrix is your benchmark for success. Use it to plan your days and weeks. Every time you cross something off, you'll be able to move something else into its place. 

Now, you may be thinking, "not everything will fit on my Task Priority Matrix." You probably have many running lists of items to take care of and, it's true, they won't all fit. And you DO still need these lists. What do you do with them? 

You put them in your digital brain. 

For those of you not familiar with the concept, the digital brain is your second brain. 

Basically, your real-life brain is not a storage device. It was never meant to be. Having endless things to remember is not healthy for it. And we have more information coming at us all the time. 

You need to create a digital database where you can store the information you have to retrieve "someday." 

There are many program options to use for your digital brain, but we recommend OneNote. I have made a starter version of this digital brain in the Library

It's called the Household Manager Notebook. And it's awesome!

I included pre-populated forms and checklists to get you started. And the best part is, you can completely customize it according to your needs. 

This is also where you keep sets of running lists. 

Came across a travel article for a trip you want to take recently? Put it on your running list of travel research articles. Need to access prescription information for your dog on the fly? Access it in their digital medical records. Have a list of home maintenance projects to attend to? Put it on the list!

I know. It's amazing. 

Now that you have your 3 tools for success, we need to put this all together into a system.

Here's what you need to do.

1) Update your Household Manager Notebook in real-time. 

Every time something comes up that you need to store/remember/come back to, pop it in the HHMN.

2) Update Your Priority Matrix and Plan Your Week

I do this every Sunday. As I fill in my TPM, I reference lists and reminders inside my HHMN. Catch the workshop replay on Boosting Your Productivity with Weekly Planning here.

3) Fill in the EO Daily Agenda each day according to your weekly plan. Effectively scheduling your tasks!

That's it. Now you know the secrets to being the most productive person in the world!

go forth and conquer life!

xo Katie.jpg

PS- Imagine how amazing the world would be if we all got better at accomplishing our goals. If you know anyone who needs help being more productive, share this post!

 

How to Win at Birthdays (and other occasions too!)

All year long, important dates pepper our lives. Some celebrations are a surprise, such as an engagement or a new baby.  Others, come on the same day each year. But that doesn't mean they don't still sneak up on us sometimes!

How many times have you caught yourself running to the store for a card on your way to a graduation?

Ever paid extra to rush deliver your mother's day flowers? What about the time you raided your "re-gift" stash to find the perfect birthday present?

We need to stop this madness.

It's inefficient, expensive, and stressful. There IS a better way. 

Mission 1:  Escape Hallmark Hell.

Let's tackle the cards. It does not make sense to run out and buy a new card every time an occasion pops up. It's a waste of your valuable time to drive to the store 45 different times each year to buy 1 card at a time.

It also causes unnecessary pressure to find the PERFECT CARD in TEN MINUTES because you are LATE

Stop the insanity. 

YOUR PLAN OF ATTACK:

Buy all your greeting cards for the entire year at once.

You may be thinking, "that's ridiculous!" or "how can I choose the right card message for a birthday that's 6 months away?"

Stay with me. 

You're going to buy BLANK birthday cards. Tally the number of birthdays you have for the year and divide them into male and female. Then buy the appropriate number of cards for each group. 

how to win at birthdays

Blank is the perfect solution because then you can write a personal greeting in every card. The penned message will always be a perfect fit for your recipient!

It gets better. You don't even have to go to the store!!! Buy your cards online. If you're not sure who to buy from, start here:

For feminine birthday cards, I highly recommend PAPAYA ART. For masculine birthday cards (and cards for kids), check out LAGOM DESIGN

Once you have your birthday cards in your cart, don't check out! You're not done yet. It's time to go back and grab cards for the rest of your yearly occasions. :)

Have any anniversaries on the calendar? Pick up the cards now! Is someone graduating this year? Know any children celebrating religious milestones? Do you need cards from the tooth fairy? Do you send valentines? Get all those cards too!

What about preparing for the unexpected? I try to keep each of the following card types in my card file: 

  • Engagement
  • Condolence
  • Congratulations
  • Wedding
  • Thinking of You
  • Get Well
  • New Baby

5 each is a good number to keep on hand. This is also a great time to replenish your stock of thank you notes and personal stationary.

When you have purchased all the cards you will EVER need for the year, it's time to figure out a storage solution. I use an inexpensive office box (mine is from Ikea) with paper dividers I made to separate the different types of cards. 

Next, find your card box a home somewhere in your office. And don't forget to give the humans in your house a tour of the new card file system!

On a personal note, my husband loves this card box as much as I do. He knows we've got cards covered and he can always find one when he needs it. #winning

Mission 2: Break the cycle of last minute rushing around.

It can be really frustrating to have extra things thrown at your already heavy to do lists each day. And you shouldn't have to sprint through choosing a thoughtful gift or filling in cards. Schedule time each month to care for these items properly.

YOUR PLAN OF ATTACK:

Manage all Occasions 1 Month Ahead

Buy gifts, wrap them, fill out cards, place your order for flowers, make dinner reservations... Everything you need to do for every occasion gets done the month before.

The only thing you should be doing in the current month is confirming any reservations you made. 

To make this work, I keep a list of occasions for the current month and next month on a page in my planner. The lists include check boxes for everything that needs to be done for each important date (i.e. drop gift in the mail). 

Once a month, I complete and check off every task on the monthly occasion list.

It's that easy. So, are you ready to get all the special moments life brings you under control? I created a game plan worksheet in The Library.

It takes some time to collect dates and format them into monthly sheets. But you only have to do it once. When it's finished, you are set for life (save for a yearly review). You'll never forget an occasion or go through the stress of a last minute scramble for a gift or card again. 

This has the added bonus of making you appear super thoughtful and organized to your loved ones. Especially when you ask someone 6 weeks before their birthday if they have a gift list!

Have you tamed the birthday monster? Share your success on our Facebook Page!

xo Katie