Little miss busy’s 10 tools to manage life better

BusyPeople almost automatically respond “I’m so busy but doing good!” when asked how things are going. I’m definitely guilty of it myself. Ironically, I actually mean it when I say it. I must be a secret masochist because I tend to  pile more on top of an already busy schedule.  I can’t pass up fun/exciting/engaging/great/challenging opportunities for the life of me. My friends in college poked fun at my “I’m so busy!” 21 units, Varsity tennis team, 2 jobs, 2 internships schedule one birthday by giving me this Ms. Busy book. Point taken guys!

My late twenties and now my thirties seem busier than ever before. Freelance/consulting, continually interviewing with companies for the ideal FT position, MBA program with a ridiculous amount of reading and projects, start-up company venture, investment property purchasing process, triathlon training, life coach for my congregation, miscellaneous church activities, industry networking, social engagements, the never-ending list of birthdays/engagements/baby showers/bachelorettes/weddings, and last but definitely not least, QT time with boyfriend, family and friends. Now that I look at the list, maybe it’s not that I’m any busier than usual but that I have less of that twenties energizer bunny energy to tap!

I know that I’m not the only one with a full, busy life. Many of my friends do all of this, plus manage their household and children. So my question is, how do you prioritize and organize your life? What do you use to do this? Whiteboards, notebooks, post-it notes, digital tools? There are tons of how-to’s, tools, tips, and tricks to help us multi-task and run our lives more efficiently. Here’s 10 things I use to keep myself from pulling my hair out and running around like a chicken with its head cut off:

1. iPhone: I’m one of those people that has their entire life on their phone. If I lost my phone, I’m virtually cut off from the world and all the things that I need to do. I’m the real-life meme checking my phone in bed before bedtime and first thing upon waking, in bed. I pre-organize emails, texts, news and to-do’s by deleting inapplicable stuff, skim news and flag anything to go back and read in-depth later, delete and flag important emails and texts to answer later and compose my to-do list based on what was left from the day prior and what I flagged upon waking. This morning ritual helps me to feel prepared for the day.

– I have all my different emails (personal life, 2 personal business, university, company) synced so I can easily communicate with the hundreds of emails I get a day.

prayer

2. Morning Prayer: I have a morning prayer that is on my vanity mirror that I say each morning. This puts my day in perspective and reminds me of the person I want to be every day.
3. Social Bridge Apps/Platforms: I totally made up that category name but essentially that’s what platforms like HootSuite do. Social networks are a huge part of my day-to-day work life, so anything that helps me get the message out to multiple channels more easily the better! I have all the apps (Facebook, Facebook Pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp, Yammer, Instagram, About.me, etc.) synced on my phone so I can efficiently manage the myriad of personal and business accounts throughout the day, wherever I may be. I also have a HootSuite account so I can manage multiple accounts across all social channels.4. Flipboard: All of my news sources (Top news, tech, advertising, marketing, social media, psychology, start-up, local, etc.) are synced to my phone through Flipboard so I can easily keep up on the daily industry news and refer to any timely items in business conversations.5. Podcasts: Podcasts are a big learning resource for me. My phone is loaded with leadership, self-improvement, entrepreneurial, marketing and language podcasts that I listen to while driving all over the Southern California area. I’m currently learning from Coffee Break Spanish, ParkCrest Christian Church, EntreLeadership, The Accidental Creative, TED Talks, and Starting From Nothing.

timematrix

6. Time Management Matrix: I’ve only recently learned that the actual name of the prioritization system I use is dubbed the Time Management Matrix while reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Go figure! This system basically gives you a filter to examine your tasks through to prioritize them by Important/Not Important/Urgent/Not Urgent. Obviously anything with a deadline becomes an annoying line jumper. But, I always make sure that I “pay” myself back with things that are important to me like fitness, self-improvement and family time.

7. iPhone Notes, Reminders & Tasks: I have a lot of big projects on my plate right now. So to help make sure that I’m making movements forward on these, I like to break them down to their most basic and essential tasks and start checking those off one at a time. I do this through Notes and load them into Tasks and Reminders with color coding, urgency and alarm settings. So while it may take me awhile to actually get to the finish line, I can look over my progress and know I’m working toward the long-term end goal and not get lost in short-sighted tunnel vision.

8. Kindara: I’m not going to go into too much detail on this app because it might be TMI but lets just say it’s a female-aimed app for Flo 😉 and it’s freaking awesome. Talk to me in the comments if you want to know more.

9. Live Strong: I’m training for my third triathlon and am trying to restore my metabolism. So nutrition tracking is super important to make sure I’m eating consistently and at the calorie levels I need to keep up with everything. This app is great for that. It has a ton of Trader Joe’s foods which I’ve never seen in a food app before, so I don’t have to enter them all myself.

10. Elevatr: I have a start-up company venture that I’m working on and tons of company ideas that pop into my head all the time. This app helps you organize all your ideas and start filling out the business plan for each, 140 characters at a time. If you feel like you have a solid idea, you can export it to a Word doc or share access with teammates to collaborate better. It’s really rad!

Now it’s your turn. I’m dying to learn about what tools, apps and items you use to make your life more manageable. Tell me all the details in the comments below. Hopefully I’ll learn a trick or two!

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Hope you have a productive and efficient rest of the week!

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