I just got back from a wonderful, long-anticipated holiday vacation, and despite keeping up with emails the whole time I was away, I’m already feeling tense about the mountain of work that lies ahead. Being super busy, or at least appearing to be, is such a warped status symbol these days, isn’t it? Like you and everyone else, I’m trying to balance work (and volunteer!) responsibilities with a healthy life outside of the office. So my resolutions are to 1) learn to say no more often and 2) let go of perfectionism.
As a self-professed control freak and people pleaser, this is going to be very, very difficult. But each time I am confronted with a task or a request, I’m going to ask myself, “Will doing this task or attending this event get me closer to my goal?” And if not, I’ll need to move on. I know, easier said than done, right? I’m asking my family and friends to remind me of my resolutions when they see me looking stressed … and taking advantage of digital tools to keep me on track. Here are five of my favorite tools for staying organized.
There are a ton of list making apps out there. Some are too basic and some are way overwrought. I tested a bunch before I ended up with ToDoist, and it’s fantastic. The interface is easy and you can start with simple lists. You can also tag and categorize items, search and sort them many different ways, postpone and reschedule tasks, create subtasks, etc. As you can see from this screen shot, I keep separate lists for work, personal, ASID, and shopping so I won’t ever forget to buy toilet paper again.
Like Todoist, Evernote lets you make lists but it’s also a repository for the gazillion bits of info I want to have on hand. You can type in info, clip articles, save photos, etc. This is where I save stuff like my expense report template, BOMA standards, the ASID Board calendar, and the brand and color of lipstick I admired on someone. I also keep a humongous list of FF&E that catches my eye every time I read a design magazine or visit a trade show. Here, for example, are modular seating options.
Marking up PDFs digitally makes sense in so many ways: you can keep a timestamped record of edits, you can share with team members across different offices, and you can work remotely. Bluebeam is an awesome tool that I use all the time. You can make simple comments like what I wrote here on a set of drawings that will soon go into the city; you can also scale and measure drawings, collaborate with teams in real-time, search for text, etc. It’s much more powerful than Adobe Reader and specifically created for the A&D industry.
I travel a lot for work and for ASID, and I don’t have an assistant to type up itineraries for every trip. So rather than print out and wrestle with a stack of airline, hotel, rental car, and other confirmations, I simply forward emailed confirmations to TripIt which then automatically compiles a single itinerary for each trip. Best of all, it keeps me updated with gate changes, flight delays, etc. TripItPro also keeps track of frequent flier points and lets me know where my seat is located on the plane.
Going to the dry cleaners doesn’t seem like it’s such a big deal. But when your local cleaners close at 6 p.m. on weeknights, and when you’re away on weekends a lot, the ability to schedule evening pickups and drop-offs at your doorstep is miraculous! They text you reminders and let you know when they’re on their way; they photograph all your items after pick-up so you know they haven’t missed anything; the prices are super reasonable; they handle both laundry and drycleaning; and they even sew loose buttons and make other minor repairs for free!
So there you go. Hope this helps you make 2017 your most fulfilling year yet! And by the way, I’m not getting paid by any of these companies. I’m just a nerd who loves technology.