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How a Productivity Consultant gets through a Busy Season

Last month, I was entertained seeing all the “Maycember” posts and memes highlighting the craziness of the month of May. With my girls out of school now, I’m somewhat shielded from the end-of-school mayhem, but towards the end of May, as I reviewed my calendar, I realized the first half of June was to be my “Maycember.” Intent on accomplishing all that I’d committed to and, most importantly, seeking to enjoy my scheduled events, I fully resourced my productivity tools and tricks. So today’s topic is me, putting the things we discuss into action, with the goal being to illustrate how productivity tools help us manage life, Maycember or not.

Productivity 101: Scheduling

If managing time is the backbone of productivity planning, calendaring is the functional vertebrae. Scheduling your celebrations, visits and milestones enables you to, yes, remember them, but, more importantly, to honor and fully enjoy them. I’d done my calendaring. Looking at the end of May and the first weeks of June, I saw that:

  • My niece was graduating
  • We were spending Memorial Day Weekend at the lake
  • My brother-in-law (and his wife and their dog) were coming to stay with us the first days of June. Waiting to move into a rental home in the area, they needed a place to land for a few days and would need our help getting moved into their rental, as well.
  • My daughter was moving into a new home in June and she, too, needed my assistance.
  • A planned Mother’s Day trip to the lake with my parents had been moved to the first weekend of June.
  • I was scheduled to attending a NAPO (my professional trade organization) board conference in Austin the week after my parent’s lake trip

Clearly, I’d arrived at a very busy time of year for me, both professionally and personally.

How’d I stay on top of all of it?

I knew that juggling personal and family tasks while staying on top of marketing, writing, client meetings, and volunteer obligations would be overwhelming if I didn’t get organized. So, after a few minutes of panic, I transitioned to problem-solving mode, telling myself, “I’ve got the tools I need to accomplish what I want these next few weeks.”

I Laid out my Projects

First, I did a brain dump, creating a list of everything I needed to do. Todoist helps me keep track of projects and tasks; it was the perfect tool for my challenge. I logged things like:

  • menu planning and grocery shopping for my lake visits and house guests
  • assisting my daughter with setting up her utilities
  • getting my parents organized for the lake trip
  • preparing for my NAPO trip
  • packing

I Made My Lists

Trying to keep running lists in our heads never works. Not only is this the perfect recipe for forgetting something important, the “trying to remember” also uses up valuable brain bandwidth. I needed all my bandwidth, so I turned to Anylist, my go-to list maker. For this window of time, my lists included:

  • grocery store
  • packing (for each trip)
  • Costco
  • Target/Walmart
  • Lowes

As things came to mind, I updated my lists. I always keep a paper and pen on my nightstand, so I jotted down the items that would pop in my head as I was trying to fall asleep. Next morning, I updated my Anylist. When I arrived at the project or task (shopping, packing), I was able to reference my list, which made the chore quicker and easier.

I Used Time Blocking

To ensure I had time to get my projects completed, I cordoned off time on my calendar. Any task I knew would take more than a few minutes earned a time slot. My time blocking included things like: packing for my board meeting, helping my daughter move and grocery shopping. These activities I worked into my existing professional obligations on the calendar so none of them impacted by work output.

I Pulled in Other Productivity Tried-and-Trues

To pull it all off, I also:

  • Pulled in resources for support, delegating tasks to my husband and my daughter.
  • Capitalized on digital tools like online grocery ordering; grocery delivery for my smaller orders; and stock availability/location data gathering through Lowe’s website (to ensure that errand ran smoothly).
  • I relied on Evernote to:
    • organize my travel documents for Austin
    • capture my meeting notes at the conference
    • scan any paper documents I wanted to hold onto

The Productivity Tricks and Tools Paid Off

Not only did my productivity strategy enable me to accomplish my goals and responsibilities, it also, importantly, allowed me to enjoy my time with family, friends and colleagues. That’s what it’s all about. Less stressed, I performed better and was able to show up as my best version of self. Maycember? Juncember? With some planning, we’ve got this.

Sara Genrich | Productivity Consultant

Sara Genrich is a Productivity Consultant, an Evernote Certified Consultant, and the creator of the Organizing@Work for Success Workshop.  She’s committed to providing real-life solutions so her clients have time to focus on the things that really matter.

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