Ok, about a year ago I wrote a blog about work/life balance. I said it would be a series and this is part two. I suppose that’s a little slow for blogging so I guess we can plan to be on the same release schedule as the new Star Wars movies (big in my house).
Back then I was new to working at home with kiddos. Since then, some things have changed. Mostly that I am not new at it anymore, but other things too. I am still juggling! My sandwich generation status is alive and present in my life right now and my need to organize and take care of myself is more important now than ever. Luckily I have discovered some great tools and learned how to use them better.
Tasks and project management: Asana is free online project management tool that we at Arboreta Group have integrated into our project management. We use it to track tasks, due dates, and conversations about the work we are doing together. As a team it keeps us on track with team projects and makes communicating easier without long and winding email threads. It allows me to break down projects and combine them with somewhat of a to do list. The clearer I am in breaking down my tasks, the easier it is to prioritize and keep up with them!
Time-tracking: When I am unfocused I forget to track my time. No good! We use Toggl to track all of our client and business-related time for Arboreta. It is so easy! Like turning a stopwatch on and off. A lesson I have learned this last year is to track EVERYTHING, even if it is not billable time. It is useful – and satisfying – to see all of the time that we have put into a project, client, or building our business. There are times that I do not charge all of my hours for a variety of reasons, but I have learned how valuable it is to have an accurate time estimate for everything I do.
Calendar: I am getting much better at using my calendar and time-tracking tools effectively. I had my appointments scheduled in my Google Calendar and my tasks dated in Asana, but I kept forgetting personal things like making medical appointments, organizing my mom’s medications weekly, or returning paperwork to preschool. All this time and I just now discovered reminders in Google Calendar. My favorite feature is that I can set a date, but the reminder keeps coming up until I mark it as done.
Even with the above, the struggle continues… electronic or paper? Remember Palm Pilots? I got one when they came out, thinking I was an early adopter, but always put things in on the wrong date and meetings snuck up on me because I could not see a full picture of my appointments and tasks. I had a friend/coworker who told me that she went to a meeting with her Palm Pilot that had sticky notes all over it. A colleague assured her it was ok to just use a paper calendar. I am still in this conundrum and work with two calendars, paper and Google. I continue to seek out a purely electronic/online means to keep track of not only appointments and due dates, but the flow of that work. For example, in one month I have twelve meetings, two grants due, a training to plan for the following month, and a curriculum to finalize by incorporating feedback from stakeholders. How do I block that time across the month in one spot? Got any tips? Let me know here or email me at Jessie@arboretagroup.com.
Next up…SELF CARE!
by Jessie Towne-Cardenas