I think it’s fair to say I’m a busy person, with lots of different commitments and projects going on. I do freelance marketing. It’s my own business which helps creative people implement their ideas. Additionally, I’m a Rotarian (which often involves quite a bit of organising and communicating).
As well as all of that, I am the co-founder of a Tweetup which takes place a few times a year. I also go out networking in person for my business. I enjoy writing for my blog and I love going out into nature or exploring new places and taking photos. Then I spend a fair bit of time communicating on social media.
I sometimes wonder how I manage all of this, and I think there are three elements to it:
1. Knowing my best times to work
Over the last year or so, as I’ve become increasingly self-employed with more responsibility for my own time, I’ve recognised that I have different energy levels throughout the day which lend themselves to different types of tasks.
I work best between 7.30 am and lunchtime, have trouble concentrating in the early afternoon, and then perk up again around 4 pm. So I try to manage my day around this if at all possible – to get my important thinking and creating done in the morning, and then have meetings or make phone calls in the afternoon, or maybe go for a walk and take photos.
2. Systems for organising and planning
I like a good system. And mine are constantly evolving as I find new tools or ways to become more efficient and yet stay creative at the same time. I’m firmly placed between the digital world and my love of paper and notebooks.
On the one hand, I love the ease of access to digital “To Do” lists, and the ability to read them and add to them wherever I am. But on the other hand, I do LOVE stationery. I love crisp new notebooks, their blank pages staring back at me, waiting for all my ideas to go in them. And getting the right pen to use is an art form. It’s a joy to find one that feels nice and makes me want to write with it.
When I’m out and about I jot down notes and project ideas in Evernote for safekeeping. If I remember something I need to buy or a phone call I need to make, it goes in Wunderlist. And when it comes to creating a plan, there’s nothing better than a nice spreadsheet. Mine are always multicoloured to make them more appealing!
I have a paper weekly planner that I complete at the end of each week for the next week. I note down my meetings and fixed appointments and then my priorities for that week.
But when I’m in the midst of my favourite activities – thinking and planning – I always use a notebook. Preferably with blank pages rather than lined, so I can draw diagrams and mind maps. I could spend hours jotting down thoughts and scenarios in my notebook.
3. Doing things I enjoy
And the final element in keeping myself organised and on top of things is simply to make sure I do plenty of the things I enjoy. I like to get some fresh air every day, even just a 15-minute walk around the block. And I try to make sure there is some writing, some photography and a bit of exercise in each week too. If I have time, I love to go and watch penguins or gaze at the sea – two of my favourite things!
Nina Lenton is an explorer, observer, thinker and planner who communicates using photography and writing. Her blog, The World Outside My Window includes her creative ramblings, posts about outdoor places and photography.