Get Organized with Technology

Top Four Online Tools To Manage Your Life

Get Organized with Technology

Since I started working with YMC in September, I’ve been managing our programs via emails and a fairly simple production calendar. Over the past half a year, the number of projects we take on at a given time has grown and grown and well… it has become hard to control it all with our existing set-up. It’s been driving me just a little bit nuts and giving me more and more grey hairs each and every week. Not exactly what this gal needs!

So last week, I spent a few days setting us up with a proper Project Management system. After looking at some different options, we decided to use Basecamp, a popular online project management tool that I’ve used in the past. I’m really excited to put everything centralized in one place, to have automated reminders built in for me, and to not be searching through hundreds of emails to find the details I’m looking for. What a relief!

But Basecamp is not the only tech tool I use. I find that using my laptop and iPhone are the best ways to keep me organized wherever I go – both professionally and personally.

There are so many options out there. All you have to do is type “online calendar,” “to-do lists” or “task management” into Google and you’ll find a slew of tools – lots of which are free. Some that you download onto your personal computer and others that live online. And lots and lots of smart phone apps, many that you can sync up with their downloadable counterparts for your computer. So there’s something out there that will work for just about anyone’s needs and preferences.

Here are four of my faves:

1. Project Management: Basecamp
As I’ve already described, Basecamp is a great online tool for organizing projects. Especially if you are working remotely with others – which is why a tool like this is key for a company like YMC. You can set up many To-Do lists, assign tasks to people working on a project, set dates for Milestones along the way, leave messages and comments for team members that can also be emailed to them, and so much more. As it is more of a business tool, there is a monthly fee for the service. But they do offer a free version that gives you one project. If you have something big to coordinate, you can give it a try. Plus they recently launched a mobile version that works great with my iPhone.

2. File Management: Dropbox
Dropbox is a great way to share and back-up files online. I use it for both home and work. You download it to your computer and when you save files in the designated folders, they are also saved on the Internet with Dropbox. And you can invite people to share individual folders. I have some folders that are mine only. I share others with Mr. Org so we both have access to our family files and can work on them at any time. Then I have a whole set of YMC folders that our whole team uses to share and collaborate on files. Plus the Dropbox iPhone app lets me access all files from there, too. And if you don’t have a massive amount of large files, a free account is likely all you’ll need.

3. Task Management: Vitalist
Vitalist is an online tool to manage your to-do lists. I like to use it for all of my various kinds of tasks, making lists for things like organizing/decorating my house, the Kid’s stuff, blogging and general personal things. Up until setting up Basecamp, I have been using it for my work tasks too. With Vitalist, you can manually organize the order of your tasks within a list, set items to be High, Medium or Low priority, assign dates for things to be done and then sort and filter your lists by many different variables. This is how I electronically create my “Lists within Lists” that I wrote about a while back. And once again, a fab mobile version that works with my phone.

4. Calendar: Google Calendar
I began using Google Calendar when I started working with YMC, as we have been using it for a while to schedule our programs. (Now with Basecamp, we can export the dates from our projects out to Google Calendar so it will continue to be a good tool for us.) You can set up many different calendars within Google Calendar, colour code them, select which ones you want to see at any given time and you can share them with others. To keep everything together, I have added in my own personal calendar here too and shared it with my DH. And again, it syncs up with my phone.

If you’re thinking of trying a new tech tool to get you organized, why don’t you explore some of your options this week. And if you are using a tech tool that you love to use, let me know what is working for you!


You Can't Do It All

So Cut Yourself Some Slack

You Can't Do It All

Yesterday was April Fools Day. From the moment the Kid awoke, he had many pranks played on him. Green milk in his Rice Krispies. All the underwear in his drawer pinned together. The arms of his coat stuffed with paper. Hot Wheels in his boots. I even gave him a raw egg as he helped me peel “boiled” eggs for the egg salad sandwiches for our lunch - it burst in his hands.

He loved it! With each prank he howled and asked “Can you play another joke on me?” He kept looking around the house for the “jokes.” He wanted more and more.

Fast forward to late afternoon. I’m trying to get in as many more minutes of work as I can before the end of the official working week and having to make dinner. (YMC is not going to manage itself you know!) I’m begging him to entertain himself for just a few more minutes. The Playdoh just isn’t holding his attention anymore…

“Mum, Mum. Please help me clean up the Playdoh. Mum, Mum. Please come play Hot Wheels Math Game with me. Mum, Mum. Please think of another joke to play on me. I really want you to play another April Fools joke on me. Think of something up your sleeves.”

His badgering is relentless and I’ve had a long day. So I say: “I’m trying to get some work done. You want me to clean up the Playdoh. You want me to play Hot Wheels Math Game AND think of some new jokes?!? How am I supposed to do all of that at the same time? Who do you think I am? Superman?”

He looks up at me and says… “No. You’re my Mum.”

His response reminded me that in his eyes I can do all of this at the same time without breaking a sweat. Simultaneously, I’m painfully aware that I can’t always do everything that he (and everyone else) wants from me at all times. No matter how may To Do lists I have or how organized I am.

This week I suggest you cut yourself some slack and don’t sweat it if you don’t get it all done. I’m going to try to take this advice myself.