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how to stay organized (for the not organized person)

I would say that I am a pretty organized person. I'm not Type A by any means, and my closet might suggest that I'm anything but organized. But when it comes to day to day GSD, I stay on top of my shit (for the most part). It is not to say that I am an innately organized person (I'm not), I just like plans and achieving said plans and staying an organized is a way to accomplish that. I wanted to share with you some of the systems I use to stay organized and hope that you will share some of the tools you use in the comments! We're in this together, Type B friends!

\\ TRELLO //

The pictures in this post a perhaps a bit misleading because I use Trello almost exclusively to keep all my to-do's organized (and to keep sane). If you're unfamiliar, Trello is an online tool for managing projects and tasks. Users create boards to group together lists to organize tasks (called cards). You can check off cards, archive them when they have been completed, color code them to assign them to other users (Trello is great for collaborating at work), and move them between lists. I use two boards primarily --  work, and wedding -- and I've set up each differently. 

On my wedding board, I have lists for each month and underneath each month are all the tasks that need to be completed. Aaron and I use the board together and we're able leave notes for each other on the tasks, and color code each task so it is clear who is responsible for what. There are really romantic parts of being engaged and planning a wedding -- the project management aspect of it is not one of them. 

On my work board, I have one list full of my to-dos and a list for each day. At the beginning of each day, I move the cards under the to-do list to the days of the week to use as an outline for the day. It helps me prioritize what needs to get done today and what can wait for tomorrow while not losing sight of all that needs to get done this week. In my work, I manage a number of projects so I assign each project a color so that I can quickly look at my to-do list and see what project needs the most attention today (or this week). Alternatively, I've set up my work board to have a list for each project with all the tasks needed to be completed underneath it. I found that to be too cumbersome for all the projects I manage and did not help me manage my time.

Let me know if you use Trello, or want to see how my boards are set up. I'm happy to share! 


I use both. I have a paper datebook were I keep important dates, like birthdays or major events, and an electronic calendar for everything else like day to day meetings or after work events. The key to a good electronic calendar again is color coding everything. Blog tasks, wedding appointments, personal obligations, and work meetings are all different colors but on the same Google calendar. That way, when I open up my calendar as I do every morning, I have an accurate snapshot of what my day will look like all day -- not just at work.

In addition to using my electronic calendar to manage work meetings and appointments, I also use it to manage my time and work flow. I start each morning drinking my coffee and looking at my inbox, calendar, and Trello to-do list for the day. I then fill in my time between meetings with appointments for myself to complete certain tasks. I leave a few open breaks in case something comes up with a colleague who is using my calendar to determine my availability to meet. But for the most part, I try to book out my day so I can ensure I  have enough time for each one of the tasks I've assigned myself for the day. This method also works well in forcing you to step away from a project or take a break which is something I can need hep with.

\\ EMAIL //

What a beast, right? Again, color coding is my best friend. In my personal email, I use color coded labels in Gmail for everything. That way, I can sort and visually see what is waiting  for me.

At work, I use email a bit differently. My inbox is sorted into unread, and everything else with unread emailed listed first. As I mentioned, I begin each day skimming but not replying to everything unread in my inbox. I give myself 30 minutes to respond to low hanging fruit -- emails that need a confirmation of receipt or I know will only need a response to end the conversation. After responding, its labeled and archived. For everything else, I add responding to my Trello to-do list for the day or the next day. Email etiquette in my industry dictates a 24-48 hour response time so I do my best do respond accordingly.  Emails that are open ended conversations, like those for which I need a response to my reply or emails that I need to wait for more information before I can reply appropriately wait in my inbox as read. My inbox serves as mini to-do list and a list of reminders. 

I include time on my calendar each day for checking email and try my best not to look at my inbox until those designated times. In Gmail, I enable desktop notifications for important messages so I know that I'm not missing any emails from my boss (or other VIPs) during the times I've designated as non-inbox times. Only checking email a few times a day has helped my productively immensely. 

How do you stay organized and GSD?? 

1 comment

  1. Nice photos :)
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    Maria V.