How I'm Staying Organised in 2018

I have a confession to make: if I seem organised it's a fabrication. I'm not sure how I have gone through six years of being a business owner when my tax docs and papers are flying about my desk 24/7. In truth, admin tasks make me run for the hills. For me, it's the worst part about owning a business. While some people thrive off being organised superstars, I'd rather do my work and think about where I'm going to file the paperwork later. This hasn't worked so well over the last year.

A few weeks ago, I went to organise my portable hard drive and got so overwhelmed I had to just give up, put everything in an archive folder and vow to myself to do better this year. It scarred me. How did I let things get so out of control?

Trying to be more organised with work and meetings is one of my new years resolutions. From my calendar to hard drives, my aim is to never double book myself and always label, date and file my work away. So far, I'm staying true to my word. I recently posted a screenshot on Twitter of my 2018 content calendar. You guys seemed really interested in it, so I thought it might be fun to put together a little post about how I'm staying organise physically and digitally in 2018. 

PS: there's a little freebie at the end of this post for those of you who keep on reading!

DIGITAL

Let's start chronologically, shall we?

Whenever an appointment comes in, the first thing I do is log it into my iPhone. I just use the default Apple Calendar app as I find it syncs the best across all of my devices. I also love the way that it pulls appointments from my emails and messages. 

I learned a few years ago that if I don't put something in my calendar, even tentatively, I have a tendency to double book myself. Rule number one as a business owner: this is not an effective or smart way to run your small biz. Save yourself, and your clients for that matter, the stress and just avoid double booking like the plague. The other reason why I always start with putting appointments into my iPhone is that it's easy for me to change dates and locations in case anything changes. Overall, I just like everything to be moderately organised before I put anything in hard copy so that I can keep everything looking neat.

An example of a busy week I had back in October last year.

I have... a lot of calendars on my phone. They're all colour coordinated too because I like to visually be able to see what and who I have coming up without having to read. I have all of the usual sections like appointments, bills, and parties. Some of my clients who demand more work have their own calendars too. This is especially helpful when I need to block out days of the week to work on their accounts, or see them in the real world. I also have calendars for exercise (a big priority for me that I find is easier to track and make time for if I schedule time for it in my calendar), flights and accommodation.

Moving on from my calendars, I have also started using a content calendar. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a content calendar is a big digital planner (sometimes physical too) that helps you to plan out all content for a business. The most basic of content calendars will just list dates and posts that need to be scheduled or written on those days. Mine is pretty detailed... 

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So my calendar is set up for the entire 2018 year. It is broken down into quarters and then into months. I also have a monthly and quarterly theme for content. I then list any important dates for the year that may affect my posting ie. Australia Day, Valentine's Day etc. I then have three columns that are designed to reach out to different audiences. The first is my current clients. In this column, I list any important dates, events, meetings (that I currently know of) and any other kind of out going communication reminders for people I currently work with. I then have a column for client leads and one for cold clients where I plan out outgoing comms and plans to capture those target audiences.

I also have a column dedicated to social media which is my main communication method. I have broken this section down further, listing each social media platform I use to talk to you all. I fill this section out with content I need to publish or just a monthly reminder of what my focus/posting schedule should be. Lastly, I have my other column which is pretty much a big to do list for the entire year. It includes a section to remind me to update my website, invoice certain clients, work trips, hard advertising etc. 

I also have sheets that track my social media engagement and following growth. This is really just here for me to keep an eye on my stats quickly and easily. I'm not too fussed about these numbers but it's good to keep a track of them.

Some people prefer to do a lot of what I've listed above physically rather than digitally, but personally, I find tracking all of this in a bullet journal to be exhausting, messy and just impractical - especially when I have one of these calendars for every single client I work with. I store my calendar in Google Drive so that I can edit it at any point and send it to anyone. Super handy.

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PHYSICALLY

So once I've logged all my tentative dates into my phone and updated my content calendar, I then move to my bullet journal. For some of you, this might seem like a step too far, but I've found that if I don't write something down physically I often forget about it. I've used a datebook for years. In fact, I really only embraced digital methods of communication in 2016. Prior to this, I only used a datebook. Call me old fashioned.

Last year, I was gifted a beautiful Erin Condren planner which I loved using, but found that it lacked space for me to write notes, plan out goals and in general personalise my space. This year, I have decided to try bullet journaling. This is inspired partly by Rachel Aust (her bullet journal is a little OTT for me, but I admire her for staying THAT organised) and because I looked through approximately 214562 date books over December and couldn't decide one one so I thought, why not make my own?

Who knew that finding a planner would be harder than finding a significant other?

I use a black, dotted moleskine notebook - because I'm a typical artist who drinks black coffee and lurks around cafes all day.

Like any usual date book, I have a yearly and monthly outlook. My monthly layouts involve a list of the dates and corresponding day down the left hand side and a space for notes, goals and monthly to dos. I always list down my appointments in my monthly section first. Again, this is just so that I can change things if need be and so that I can see how busy or quiet the month is going to be.

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I then have a weekly layout. This is important for me as I like the extra space to write down my daily and weekly to do list and reminders. I have all the days of the week down the left hand side, and on the right I have sections for my weekly focuses, to do, notes and habit tracker.

I'm all about having different focuses for each week at the moment. I love being able to break down my overall monthly and yearly goals and turn them into a weekly focus to keep in the back of my mind over the seven days. So far, I've found this to be quite successful in getting things done. Sometimes my focus might be very vague like, remember to channel your creativity into something physical, or sometimes it will be a but more specific like research new cold lead communication methods. Whatever I want to think about the most that week goes into my focus section. I also have a different section for work, health/fitness and personal.

I also use stickers a lot. I have cute little illustration icons that I use in my weekly layout and some small sticky notes that I will use if I need some more writing space for a particular day of the week. Generally I source these from Kikki-K or Erin Condren when I need them. In general, however, I try not to go too OTT with my decoration. I was really into it a few years ago but I've found that keeping things simple and practical will ensure that I actually use my planner. 

My stationery is all from Muji. I use their double-ended highlighters, ruler and fine tipped black ball point pens for all my journalling. I use two different ball points, 0.38 (general writing) and 0.7 (headings and lines) for my journal.

Photographed all of these images on location at The Grounds! Totally recommend a visit if you're near Sydney.

Photographed all of these images on location at The Grounds! Totally recommend a visit if you're near Sydney.

Okay so, if you want to get annoyingly organised as well, you can download your own version of my content calendar here. Remember to save it to your own Google Drive or Desktop, or else everyone who accesses this link will also be able to see your calendar. Awkward. 

I'm super interested to hear what you guys use to stay organised? Is this just too OTT for you? Or do you take it the next step further? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to implement some new organisational tactics into my routine! 

biz shizCarolyn West