My simple, 10 minutes a day system to stay ultra organised, calm and collected each day
I used to spend every working day floundering in the midst of chaos.
I felt constantly pulled in different directions by conflicting priorities, overlapping tasks and just way too much to do in the time I had available to me.
Eventually, I became really stressed and found myself frequently taking sick leave. I realised that I couldn’t carry on like this and decided it was time to find a system of my own, that worked for me and gave me results.
I’ve spent months developing a system to help me with my problems. I’ve listened to countless podcasts, read numerous blog posts on productivity and tried different systems. One of the best books I read was Getting Things Done by David Allen.
Concepts in the book included the following:
- not storing tasks and deadlines in your head
- not using your inbox as a priority task list
These were key to my development. If you haven’t read the book yet, I would definitely recommend it.
The relatively simple system I’m about to share is probably far from perfect, but it has worked for me for months now and I’m getting more done in a day than ever, remaining calm and collected at all times. Deadlines rarely scare me these days, and here’s why:
- Google Calendar (or similar)
- Gmelius plugin for Chrome/gmail (or snoozing feature for your email client)
- Daily journal/notepad (I use InspireNow Journal currently)
- I immediately book tasks into my calendar, blocking out the necessary time to complete them, as soon as I receive email notification of them.
- I colour code tasks as follows:
- Red tasks are calls or meetings – not to be cancelled, moved or changed.
- Green tasks are meetings with friends or social events – treats or things I do for myself.
- Purple tasks include meditation and spiritual activities.
- Blue is used for any normal, work-related tasks.
- Yellow is used for non-standard tasks, not normally carried out.
- I receive notifications of all tasks and my system means that other people can’t put stuff into my calendar. I, and they, know what I’m doing at all times.
- I have a default 10 minutes prior to task notification in my Google Calendar. If there is a bigger meeting or call, I sometimes schedule a task beforehand to prepare or travel.
- Once I have all the necessary info about a task, I set relevant emails to snooze until the time of the task or just before it.
- My inbox therefore only contains emails requiring responses, emails I need more information about, or emails I need time to think about before deciding my next move. I often organise tasks in the evenings or weekends, adding in smaller tasks on the relevant days.
I stack tasks in the evenings or weekends often, when I don’t have the time to organise them, I especially smaller tasks, I just add them in for the next day or another.
- I sit down, open up my calendar, read my emails, check my daily journal and review my priorities for the day ahead.
- I write down tasks lined up for the day in priority order.
- I add in any potentially useful habits.
- I position calls on the right and tasks on the left.
- I note things I’m grateful for and read my daily quote: ‘Get organised.’
Through the day
- I tick off tasks as I complete them.
- I add other tasks to my list if new tasks come in and take priority.
- If a day gets really busy (once every few weeks), I have to reschedule tasks, making notes in my calendar when I do this. My easy colour coding system means that I know which tasks can be moved.
How I stay calm – 6 simple ways
- I use my Habitero Pyramid during the day. This reminds me to keep breathing and be mindful. I rotate the sides depending on which day it is.
- I check if my jaw locks in. Usually, when I’m stressed, I feel it the most in my jaw.
- I take breaks to drink water or herbal tea.
- I listen to meditation music or baroque music. (for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yZa1dG98vo or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8NDRElMWwk)
- Sometimes, I just take a quick walk around and rest in another office, meditating there for a few minutes before returning to my work. It helps to refocus.
- I often use the Pomodoro Technique, which helps me work with time, not against it.
- My tasks are tracked in my Google calendar.
- Each day, I transfer them onto my journal – so I continue to receive electronic notifications from my calendar, but my focus is on my offline daily journal, open on my desk.
- I use the Habitero Pyramid and other relaxation techniques to counter the effects of stress.
If you can think of any improvements I can make, please post about them in comments or get in touch with me via my contact page.