One question I get often is how do I “do it all”. The truth is I don’t DO it all. I just know how to organize my time. To the simple outsider or reader it may seem like I have got life completely figured out and it is perfect. The reality it is far from it. What I CAN tell you is I have learned to organize my time as much as possible. It is this what allows me to be able to do a little bit of everything. In this blog post I will be sharing with you the tools that I use to help me with life organization. I will even share with you one of my most trusted aids, a To-Do list print out!
Let’s start this off by saying I do not do this 100% of time. Sometimes I slack/procrastinate and I have wing it to get things done. This usually happens when I have more time to myself and am not under much stress. On the contrary, when I am incredibly stressed and busy, I resort to a handful of things to manage my time and do as much as possible every day.
Planners and agendas can be very helpful when it comes to organizing your days, weeks, and months. If you are in school they are helpful to keep track of exams, projects, and assignment dates. They can also help you plan for deadlines and activities. They are a great visual resource to see your week/month in a glance and better organize your time. If like me you find yourself bored or unmotivated keeping it up , Glam Planning is all the rage right now. Not only will it make your planner super pretty and chic, it can double as a creative outlet or hobby.
My friend Angie from Tall & Sassy has an incredible talent for glam planning and she has a very helpful blog and YouTube to help you out. It is in Spanish but you can always translate or write to her if you need any help. I am definitely looking forward to moving and try following her tutorial to Glam Up my planner!
I find Planners to be good for long term planning. But when it comes to the everyday aspect, that’s a different story. For day to day organization, To Do lists work best for me. This began back in first year of medical school where I found myself needing to organize my study topics and wedding planning things. My friends were also looking for ways to better keep track of all the topics we needed to study and other school assignments and responsibilities. That’s when we found To-Do List printouts. I even had a folder filled with my favorite ones to use. There are many alternatives out there. From grocery shopping, to meal planning the myriad of print-ables you can find are astonishing. Eventually, I decided to stop printing them out and buy them in tear off notebook form. The one that I got is from Bloom Plannners on Amazon and I LOVE it. Very convenient and cute!
For this post I decided to create a printable on Canva. Like with the media kit I searched on google for templates of to-do lists and found many alternatives. You can get a FREE downloadable of this To-Do list by subscribing to my weekly newsletter HERE. Note that you will need to provide an email address which will only be used to send you the newsletter as well as information on NEW content and services from this blog.
If I am in need of spending a few hours doing only 1 thing, I like resorting to focus apps. When I was studying for boards, this was particularly important. I found several apps to help keep me off my phone and undesired websites on my Macbook. For my phone I used an App called Freedom. Another good one is called Focus, which you can use for both your phone and computer. As for my macbook, I used a downloadable plugin called Self-control which was super easy to set up and keep me off distracting sites during study periods. Similar to self-control there are others like Cold Turkey. These worked very well for me and helped me develop my own self control, being able to wean off them eventually.
What I like about these apps is that once you turn them on there is absolutely no way in hell to turn them off until the time runs out. So it forces you to have NO CHOICE but to do what you NEED to do and NOT procrastinate. Not only did they help make me more productive and focused, they gave me necessary skills for day to day. If like me, you sometimes struggled with keeping your focus when performing a specific task, I seriously recommend giving these a try and see if they work for you.
Like the one above, this next category is for the digital lovers. If planners and paper to do lists do NOT work for you, digital Productivity apps might be for you. I will be honest, I haven’t been very successful with these as I am more traditional. But nonetheless I have used them. Out of the hundreds out there, the one I used the most was Google Keep. It has a system very similar to the Mac dashboard with post it notes and stuff like that but in a digital form. I liked that you can use it on all your devices and it is very user friendly. It also allows you to share your lists with others, which is convenient for study groups or grocery lists.
Other apps that allow you to manage your time and function as a planner include Hours and Summit, among many others. Summit worked perfectly for my husband. He liked how customizable it was and how it helped him organize work, school, and personal stuff. On the contrary if you are looking to learn how you are using your time in order to better organize yourself, Hours works on that. It allows you to track how much time you’ve spent on certain tasks. As such, it is GREAT for accountability. I would definitely use something like this is you have a lot going on and want to see how much time you are dedicating to everything in your life and be able to make modifications.
Breaks are an important part of a balanced life. You can work hard and feel unstoppable, but this was it’s easy to get burnt out. Especially in the medical profession. As such breaks are incredibly important. Breaks can mean different things to everyone, but it’s important to take the time to disconnect from your stressors for an hour or two every day and at least one day a week. From going to the gym, doing meditations, coloring, or going for a drink. These are all examples of ways to take a break from responsibility/reality and unwind all the stress we carry. Like I mentioned in my post on Being Happy in Medicine, and my post on being Married in Med School, prioritizing your mental health and relationships are essential aspects of a balanced life.
Finally, this one is a given. I pride myself in being a QUEEN at multi tasking. One of my favorite ways to multitask is incorporating things that require focus with things that do not. An example would be doing laundry while doing a question bank set of questions. I can easily set a load, study while it washes, and schedule my breaks in between to change loads. Same with cooking. Another great way to multitask is to use the tools above to break up your time and do certain tasks simultaneously and others individually. For example, if there are errands you need to run that are in close proximity do them all before or after you finish something you can only do at home or a specific place. Another favorite of mine is making calls while in the car or while cleaning the house. That way you can stay active during the call but do mechanical work at the same time. This way I am maximizing my time and leaving out as few opportunities as possible to slack.
We have reached the end of this post and I hope it was a helpful one! There are ways to keep yourself organized and help you increase your productivity everyday. Here I have shared some of the things I do for life organization! Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to get access to my Library of FREEBIES, including a FREE To Do List Printable.
Thanks for reading!
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