Organization: my secret to « How does she do it all? »

Posted by in Productivity

Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by my KisCool for their vlog « Quoi ma gueule« . Somehow we ended-up talking about time tracking (and my obsession with love for Toggl). Turns out, with the multiple projects I’m juggling right now, there’s nothing I could do without a little organization.

How to stay organized when there’s more to do than time in a day?

Like many things in life, everything starts with setting the right goal. Organization is nothing if it is not at the service of something bigger. What is it that you want to achieve in the end? More time with your friends and family? The feeling that your projects are taking steps forward? A brain that is not always on the edge of imploding? All of the above?

Once upon a time, not that long ago, I too was running after time. I had so much on my plate that I couldn’t keep a straight conversation: while I was talking, I was mentally listing all the other things I should be doing at that very minute. Everything felt urgent. And, to add to that craziness, my inbox was constantly overflowing. I might have felt busy and told myself that « busy was good » but really, I was exhausted.

Enters one of my new favorite author: Leo Babauta, and his life-changing Zen Habits. Reading this book opened my eyes to many errors I was making not just with the way I was organizing my days but most importantly with the way I was apprehending life, success and happiness.

Three practices that changed my life

First, before diving into tactics, I had to take a journey down my own perception of success and happiness. What is a good day? What does it feel like? What have I produced that makes me feel this way?

Then I had to free myself from the lure of being busy. What if being successful was not linked to how much I work, but rather to how well I work. What if I didn’t feel ashamed of taking an afternoon off to go see an exhibition in a museum? What if it was okay to read a magazine in the plane and not open my computer to try to catch up with my emails? I don’t look busy in other people’s eyes? Who cares? What really matters at the end of the day is my bottom line and my degree of satisfaction with my day.

Now down to what I actually did:

  1. I began starting my days with a 10-minutes meditation. I discovered mindfulness and it really helped quieting the non-stop chatter in my brain. Something really interesting happens when you start your day with stopping. Not being immediately « on the go » but taking the time to pause and reflect and being fully aware of what you’re doing and where you’re going next has brought a lot to my sanity.
  2. I stopped checking emails all the time. It was really hard at first but implementing the three times a day system works wonders. I also no longer respond to emails immediately (sorry folks) unless they only require a one sentence answer. The other ones go on to my organization system and my to-do list.
  3. I have organized my days around a system and the 1-3-5 rule. To keep things in check I use Trello. This is particularly useful giving me a sense of achievement at the end of my days.

Today, I am firmly anchored in the way I intend my life to be lived. And I know what needs to be done each day to achieve my goal(s). And if there is no longer room for procrastination, there’s also no longer need for it, because I now have plenty of time for distraction, entertainment and social moments. And the best thing is, during those moments, I’m fully present. Trust me, that’s a treat.