Guest Post by Rae Oestreich: Getting Things Done and Keeping Life Organized

calendar Trying to grow a platform or social-media presence while also making time for your day job, family, and the multitude of other responsibilities that you’ve signed up for is, in a word: difficult. Not in the actual things that need to be done, but rather in finding the time to do them.

Knowing how to manage your time is an extremely useful skill you can always work on growing. Plus, it’s a challenge, and I love a good challenge. Who doesn’t?

Without further ado, here’s a short-ish list of my advice for staying organized and getting everything done (a.k.a. a list for staying organized and not freaking out)-

Put Your To-Do List into a Calendar

Above all, giving yourself a schedule is going to be your friend. Block out your time and know your deadlines. You don’t have to have every minute of every day blocked out for one task in particular; simply know when there’s a specific place you have to be. That way, you can plan around those things in your “free” time: writing blog posts, Twitter chats, reading and writing book reviews, commenting on other blogs (and commenting back on yours!), etc.

There’s two ways to keep schedules that I like (out of personal preference, but I’m sure there’s more):

  • A Weekly Planner
  • Google Calendar

A visual schedule like the two options above is going to help you keep appointments and deadlines straight at a glance, and keep you from accidentally cross-scheduling (planning two things for the same time; that’s bad).

Once your to-do list is out of that tangled knot in your head and down on paper in an organized fashion, everything will look  a lot more do-able. Here’s a few more hints on managing that calendar:

  • Give everything a solid deadline instead of a loose, “do it when you have time.” That “time” will never come. If a task doesn’t come with a hard deadline, then give yourself one. Otherwise, you’ll keep pushing it off and it’ll never get done.
  • Remember your constants. Your “constants” are things like writing (if you’re a writer), reading (for readers), responding to emails, and other daily responsibilities. Once you get the hang of a schedule you might not need to put these things into your calendar, but it might be useful until you get the hang of regularly/naturally carving out time for these things.
  • After you have your schedule, keep to it. It takes about seven consecutive days to build a habit—keep going! Your schedule might seem stiff and hard to stick to at first, but give it time and it’ll help you stay organized.

Remember Your Deadlines

Probably shouldn’t have to be said, but I’ll say it: once you put all that time into making a schedule, remember to look at it every now and again. That way, you’ll know what needs to be done and when. A few tips:

  • Complete your tasks in the order they’re going to expire. Kind of self-explanatory, but yeah.
  • Use Post-It notes to give you a visual of your most pressing tasks. Writing one obligation per Post-It note and sticking them onto your desk/work area means that once something’s done, you get the satisfaction of crumpling it up and throwing it out.
  • If you’ve got a few small projects, and one large one, complete the small ones first. They’ll take less time, and by getting them out of the way you’ll leave a larger, consecutive chunk of time to focus on only the large project, without the sheer number of things to do making you nervous (example: writing your few blog posts before reading that next book you owe a review).

Plan Ahead

This one’s simple: when you’ve got the opportunity to plan and work ahead, do it. Even if it’s one blog post, one book, a few emails, Pinterest images (for those of you who cross-post there), etc. Writing and scheduling these things beforehand is going to be your friend. Don’t wait until the last minute to try to get things cranked out; it adds unneeded stress to see your email get backed up, for example, or to know you have a nonexistent blog post publishing in two hours. If you find the time, see what small tasks you can get done now, rather than later.

Be Aware of Your Limits (a.k.a. It’s Okay to Tell People ‘No’)

Guys, you can’t do it all. I know you wish you could, but you can’t. There’s going to come a time when somebody asks you for something – a favor, a beta-read, a book review, etc. – and you’re simply going to have to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have time.” It really sucks, especially if it’s something you really want to do, but it happens. Know your limits.

Remember to Sleep, Eat Right, Hydrate, and Relax

I’m not even kidding. Try getting yourself into bed and your head on the pillow at a minimum of seven hours before you’re planning on waking up; if you can get into bed sooner, great! Remember to eat: breakfast, lunch, and dinner; or, breakfast, and a few well-sized snacks as the day goes on. Drink lots of water. Every now and again, give yourself a break so you can recharge. You’re not the Energizer bunny; you don’t have to be “on” all the time.

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And that, folks, is really all there is to it: staying organized and getting things done. Calendars are your friend when it comes to life – both online and on social media, and in life. A final tip: don’t sacrifice your passions. Find time for the things you care about, be it writing, drawing, painting, family, friends. Don’t let the things you care about suffer because you think there’s more important things because, well, there’s always going to be “more important” things.

Thanks so much, Briana, for inviting me in, and please let me know in the comments how ya’ll get things done and stay organized as you juggle your responsibilities! I’m always looking for new ways to stay organized!

What are your tips for getting things done and staying organized?

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"Don't sacrifice your passions," and other great time management tips from @Rae_Oestreich on @brianawrites' blog. (Click to tweet)