A Hybrid Paper + Digital Time Management & Productivity System That Works
My friends and loved ones always ask me “how do you get it all done?” I am responsible for managing a lot including:
(1) A full-time consulting business
(2) A full-time wellness + jewelry design business
(3) A growing professional writing career
And on top of all of that I am:
(4) a dog mom
(5) a girlfriend
(6) the friend of multiple besties (4)
(7) a member of a family
Then, when you add the things I try to do for myself:
(9) eating healthy
Even I get exhausted and overwhelmed when I look at it. I am running two start-ups AND I want to be as present as possible with and for my loved ones. I am one of those crazy people who believes I can have it all.
The only time I remember being this busy was back in High School. In High School I took between 6–8 classes, while also maintaining two part time jobs and being active in at least two clubs (always at least one sport which was usually track, and then newspaper). I did not have the luxury of a cell-phone, tablet or personal computer at the time. I did have a pager, but that did nothing to help me manage my packed schedule. Back then there was only one thing that helped me keep it all together: a physical planner and my notebooks. I had a planner to keep track of my work schedule, class assignments + homework and a notebook for each subject. In between classes I could grab the notebook(s) that I needed and never had to worry about losing everything because it was all in one notebook. I stayed on the Honor Roll in High School despite my non-academic commitments.
I pretty much maintained the same structure in college, but with the addition of the cell phone and personal computer I converted everything over to digital — mainly Google Calendar. Once I graduated from college, I went back to a hybrid system of maintaining my calendar digitally, while keeping my lesson plans in a paper notebook. I am now responsible for managing not only my projects, but the projects of my clients as well which includes Grant Writing and Management, Communications and more. My version of productivity paradise is a hybrid digital and paper system. I have also tried multiple systems and approaches to time management and productivity and my system employs the best of many approaches (after keeping what worked for me and discarding the rest).
Below are my tools and how I use them:
KEY COMPONENTS OF MY SYSTEM
Digital Calendar (I use Google Calendar, with a subscription to Mixmax):
- Any meeting that involves me and another person is captured in my Google Calendar.
- Shared deadlines for projects are stored here.
- My favorite component of my digital system is that it is searchable, where my physical planner is not.
- All travel including Confirmation Numbers are stored here.
- I hold time in my calendar for a weekly date night with my mom, a weekly date night with my boyfriend and time off during the holidays. Since other people have access to my calendar to schedule meetings, it is important that I block this time off to protect the time with my loved ones. When people access my calendar, it does not tell them the specifics, it just says that I am unavailable at the time.
Physical Planner (I use this to track my daily to do lists, my goals, and my work plans). I actually wrote about how to select a physical planner on Medium here.
- I use this to create my weekly meal plan
- I come up with at least three MUST COMPLETE tasks each day
- Stickers and colored pens really inspire & motivate me to use my physical planner.
- I use this as a sort of time diary (I also track health related things in case that information needs to be access my health-care professionals)
- When I finish a task I highlight it in pink (first learned of this technique through Myleik Teele’s Podcast). I can tell how productive my day or week is based on how pink my page is.
Astrological Planner (I use this for my self-care, mental health and spiritual work)
- I use this as a gratitude journal where I post 3 things I am grateful for most days
- I use this to track important astrological events
- I use this as a prayer journal
Business Notebook (I use this to keep track of my notes from my client meetings and any tasks that I am responsible for, this is also the place where I sketch out ideas and brainstorm)
- I use this to keep track of talking points with my clients including planned agendas for our meetings (which are usually weekly per client).
- When I write down the items I am responsible for, I cross them off as I accomplish them. I also use the information captured here to plan my daily tasks for the current or next week.
- The most important element here is to date the upper corner of each page and to write a subject (e.g. who are you meeting with, what is the topic you are writing about etc. I usually write “Meeting with [Insert Name]”
- I also use this notebook to brainstorm ideas including future articles, class topics, notes for clients, etc.
Marketing Planner (I use this to manage my social media content which includes: 3 Instagram Accounts, 2 Business Facebook Pages, 1 Personal Linked In Account, 3 Twitter Accounts, 3 Email Newsletters, 2 Website Blogs and 1 Patreon Account). I am responsible for creating at least 208 social media posts per month.)
- I keep track of important holidays, birthdays of historical figures, etc.
- I keep track of important days I want to acknowledge on social (Company Anniversary and other significant events and dates)
- When it’s time to sit down to create my content, which I usually do in 2 week sprints, I start here with my Marketing Planner. When I have extra time, I will go out as far as a full month.
- I keep track of my metrics here.
- I plan for sales and other important campaigns like Black Friday and other dates in this planner
- This system is important for me because it allows me to maintain my posting schedule without having to be responsible for posting daily or to be on social every day all day. Social is such an important component of my business and I really can’t afford to not have an active presence because it impacts my bottom line.
Mini Notebook (this lives in my purse and I use it to keep track of grocery lists and other household items)
- Anytime we run out of anything, I write it down in this notebook. It’s small and compact enough to travel with me everywhere. I keep my lists segmented by store (Costco, Target, and Groceries)
- The thing I love about the Happy Planner System is that the pages can be easily removed and restocked. This applies to all of their products including the Planners mentioned above. Happy Planner has several videos explaining and demonstrating their system which is highly customizable here.
My digital calendar (which I access on my phone), physical planner and mini notebook are the only things that are always with me. Everything else stays at home and I pull it out as needed. My astrological planner lives on the side of my bed which I usually access and write in before bed.
My business notebook lives on my desk which is where most of my work happens. If I have a face to face meeting with a client, I take the business notebook with me.
My marketing planner lives on my desk. I pull it out bi-weekly to create and schedule my social media content.
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