How to stay balanced or at least how I do it.

By Dave Simpson – Co-Owner and Director of Development for Simpatico Design Studio.

Why Am I So Busy

Being a father of four, a husband, a business owner, a handyman, die hard Steelers fan, and a self-proclaimed foodie, leaves very little “extra” time throughout the day. If I’m not mowing the lawn, laying a tile floor, reading, watching football, running, or cooking, I am watching four young kiddos run around the house. I enjoy living a busy lifestyle but at times it can wear on you. When it does, I typically find that my life is out of balance.

How Do I Organize My Life

I am a task master. I love making lists and I love even more the ability to cross items off that list. It makes me feel productive even when those items/tasks are small. With so many things I want/need to do for business/family/myself, I try my best to balance my day. So if I spend a large amount of time working with the computer or business work, I will try to find time to work on a house project like painting, hanging a shelf, building some cabinets, or something to get me up and out of a chair for a little while. This obviously creates a problem because I want to continue working building those cabinets but I have a looming deadline at work. I must prioritize. And to do that I have several methods.

Notebook

I have a notebook where I jot down all of my tasks. I organize this into 4 categories which consist of: each day of the week, this week, long term, & this month. The “this week” column are items that I need/want to complete that week. The same is said for my “this month” column. The “long term” column is saved for items that need or span a longer period of time, 3-6 months. I have found that if that tasks is not due that day it is easily forgotten. These three columns help remind me of my ongoing tasks. Drilling down on my format, for each day of the week, I have two columns. I typically use the left side for work and the right side for personal. Since we read left to right, this allows me to prioritize a work project over something like doing the dishes, since it is on the left. You can read more about Organization Tips for Your Office and Mentality here.

Kanban Board

I also use a Kanban board to help organize projects. We discussed Kanban boards in a recent blog post. You can read about it here. I use a large cork board for this and I break it into six columns, three for work and three for personal. Both work and personal have three columns consisting of To-Do, In Progress, & Completed. I update this board every Friday. It is oddly satisfying to move one of those sticky notes into the “completed” column.

Blocking

Everyday I try and schedule “blocks” of time. Each block of time is associated with another item that needs to be completed either for work, family time, relationship, or friends. For example, I schedule 30-45 minutes each morning for exercising. Or I will set the timer on the stove for 30 minutes. In that period of time, I get as much cleaning done as possible. Obviously there is always a lot more cleaning to do but after the time has expired I feel as if that task is completed for the day and I can move onto the next item. This idea came form the Pomodoro Technique.

Cozi

This app helps me organize the many tasks in my business and personal life. You can read more about Cozi on their website. The app has several different categories: Calendar, Lists, & Recipes. I typically use the recipes and list for dinner and grocery lists, no surprise there. I think the most useful section is the calendar. Everyone in the family can log in and see what is scheduled for themselves and each other person. Everyone has their own username so we know when that person has a soccer game or client meeting. This helps prevent overlapping meetings with social events or softball with mowing the lawn.

Why Does This Help

These organizational tools help me stay focused and on task no matter what that task, or tasks may be. When I first started working from home, I would spend a majority of my day doing things that had nothing to do with work. One of my favorite quotes is “Rule the day or the day will rule you. – Unknown.” * I find this is especially true when you work from home. It is very easy to sucked into doing the laundry and cleaning the kitchen instead of pitching new clients or launching that website. My task lists ground me and keep me moving forward.

 

Pomodoro Technique – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique
* I gave credit to Unknown for this quote because I do not know who originally said this.