“Mooooooommmm, Target has it’s back-to-school section up. Let’s go!”
I was that kid. The one who endlessly begs her mom to go back-to-school shopping the split-second ads starting appearing in papers. It didn’t matter that it was the beginning of July….
Nothing made me happier than picking out a brand-spankin’ new trapper with bright splashes of colors you could have seen from space ala’ Lisa Frank, matching folders and adorable pencils with impractical erasers that just smudged.
As an adult, absolutely NOTHING has changed.
I can be lured into buying a new journal with an inspirational quote embossed on top and a floral print months before I’m even close to finishing my current one. Cutesy stationery is occupying a space on my desk even though I’ve written maybe one handwritten letter in the past 5 years!?
I dig organizational tools, but confession time?
I used to be a Hot Mess with a capital “H”!
My cute folders were haphazardly filled with a myriad of papers and said folders could be found pretty much anywhere.
Those cute post-it notes? You’d find them strewn across my apartment with random ass to-do lists along with a few napkins when said post-its disappeared somewhere into the void.
When I was younger I would justify it by saying messy people were just more creative. We don’t have time to organize crap, we’re busy making art here people!
Let’s be real though. Being disorganized doesn’t give you more time. It takes it away.
I don’t even want to think about how much time I’ve spent in my life trying to find that damn blue colored pencil. I’m still salty.
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until I started my career as a Project Manager at 24 years-old that I finally sat myself down and admitted the truth: I was a mess and it wasn’t working for me!
My job depended on me being organized so I was. I knew I could do it, but I was resistant.
I saw how much time I saved NOT being a disorganized jumble at work. I was able to find the files I was looking for more quickly, sort through my uber-organized inbox that I cultivated with care, never miss a meeting, and have more room for creativity not less.
And then it hit me…
OMG, Jen, you’re a Project Manager. Just MANAGE your own damn life already. Lordy!
So I decided to tackle my disorganization like I would any of my projects.
I created SMART goals for what I wanted me being organized to look like, I developed a schedule with different milestones I wanted to hit and consulted the experts on organization.
Now I can say, without a doubt, that getting my shit together has saved me so. much. damn. time. If you’re operating under the illusion that creatives have to be messy back that truck right on up.
Instead of having to spend my precious time searching for my tax statements from 2018 or stopping my momentum to figure out what to check off next on my to-do list I have it all right at my perfectly manicured fingertips (because I actually had time to paint them!).
Along the way, I picked up a ton of different tools and resources that helped me and can now help you streamline your life. These tools make me feel like a kid going back-to-school shopping again!
Keep reading to get the best tools to streamline your life below!
Top 10 Tools to Streamline Your Life
- Evernote– Hands down #1 for me. I’m a note-taking junky and being able to not only keep all my notes in one place but be able to tag them and organize them into different notebooks has been *lifechanging*. And I don’t use that word lightly.
I do all my research for my blog posts in Evernote because you can add attachments, audio, and photos. I use it for keeping notes from doctor appointments, jotting down party ideas, and organizing my assortment of recipes. Pretty much my entire life is in there.
- LoseIt– I have my Fitbit data connected to my LoseIt account. I do have premium now, but I used their base program for years and loved it. Whenever I’m looking to gain muscle, cut weight, whatevs, I use LoseIt to track what I’m eating.
The benefit of the premium plan is that it lets you track macronutrients and since I want to track my protein this was a must for me!
- Pinterest– I use Pinterest for all the usual reasons like finding and saving new recipes, but the reason I LOVE it is because I can track my entire closet in there (Check out my Pinterest)!
Anytime I buy something online I just pin a photo of it to my closet board and if I buy it in person I’ll search for a photo to pin. If you can’t find a picture or you’re thrift shopping you can always snap a quick pic and load it.
There’s a handful of apps that you can track your purchases in, but I could never seem to find one I like and the best organization tool is the one you actually use!
- Trello– Trello is the reason I believe in synchronicity!
It took 5 different people mentioning Trello to me in the span of 2 weeks that I finally threw my hands up in the air and was like “Fine. Okay, universe. You win! I’ll look up the stupid site”.
Once I played around with Trello a bit I had my hands up in the air again…in praise. “Thank you, organizational gods, for creating this masterpiece”.
I might be overexaggerating just the teensiest bit, but that’s what it felt like at the time!
I love Evernote for containing and organizing information, but it’s not a project management tool. I needed something that could track my workflow, backlog of ideas, goals, and to-do lists. Trello fits the bill.
It makes it easy to break your to-do list into snackable morsels. Instead of looking at a multi-page PDF, I can break my tasks into what I need to get done that month, week, and day. I also track all my yearly, quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals in there with different due dates. Yes, I am a goal ninja.
Two things I wish Trello had:
– Dependencies and predecessors so that a task could be linked to another task or not pop up until the predecessor is completed. That way you’re only looking at tasks you can take action on and not a larger, overwhelming list.
– A calendar view so that I could schedule what task I’m going to do at what time in order to fully flesh out my daily schedule.
That’s where ClickUp comes in! If Trello was Batman than ClickUp is Robin.
- ClickUp– This little baby steps in to cover what Trello is lacking. It allows me to place tasks into a daily schedule with a breakdown of when I’ll be doing each one AND with a nifty chrome extension I can track how long I spend on each task. Does this feel like Christmas morning to anyone else? No, just me?….ok.
You can also link dependencies and predecessors to a task and choose to hide a task if a predecessor hasn’t been completed yet.
I have ClickUp and Trello synced so I can get the best of both worlds!
Now that, friends, is how you make a to-do list that you can actually complete!
If you had to pick two tools to streamline your life I would go with Trello and ClickUp, hands down!
- The Joy of Missing Out by Tonya Dalton- I found this book an easy read AND one of my favorite tools to streamline your life. Tonya digs into her own life to show you the importance of why creating whitespace (free time) in your life is important. She thinks it’s so important that she actually schedules whitespace into her days! SO important.
She helps you figure out what tasks are important to you and gives you permission to drop the rest. I definitely felt called out after reading JOMO because she makes it pretty clear why your looooong to-do lists aren’t doing it for you and encourages you to trim the fat.
She reintroduced me to the Eisenhower Matrix that helps you filter your tasks to determine if they’re tasks you should Do, Schedule, Delegate, or just get rid of!
(insert Eisenhower matrix photo)
If you feel like you have too darn much to do and no time to actually sit back, prop your feet up and enjoy that crisp glass of wine then this is a book you want to read.
- Readitfor.me– I’m having a love affair with books. Last year I read and listened (Audible for the win) to 130+ books. This year, I want to keep reading, but I want to listen to more podcasts and work on my website too. Unfortunately, I’m suffering from a major case of FOMOitis when it comes to personal development books. I WANT ALL THE KNOWLEDGE.
Thankfully, Readitfor.me allows ya girl to have her cake and eat it too. Nom.
This site gives you the important lessons from your personal development book of choice in 12 minutes flat in audio, video, or text format. This way you can continue your personal development without having to sacrifice anything else to the time gods.
- Unroll.Me– This program is like a juice cleanse for your inbox. It gives you a giant list of emails you’ve subscribed to and allows you to mass delete the ones you don’t want to hear from ever again. Just like that guy you accidentally gave your number to after one too many shots.
You can also tie similar subscriptions together to get them in one big email instead of 20 little ones.
I’m a serial subscriber and by using this site each quarter I’ve managed to keep my inboxes sparkly clean!
- Audible– Last year, when I made the goal to read 100 books I knew Audible would have my back. I know, technically it’s not reading, but saying consume 100 books sounds weird.
I listened to books while I ran errands, drove to work, walked, worked out, and did chores. It’s an easy way to get in extra book time and one of the few times I’ll say multi-tasking is okay.
FREEBIE ALERT: A lot of local libraries are hooked up to provide library books. If you’re on a budget hit up your local library to see if they offer this!
- Streamline your choices– We spend a lot of our time making decisions each day. If you remove even just a few of the decisions you have to make regularly you can save yourself valuable time.
I know that Ty and I spend a lot of time each day just talking about what we want to do for dinner. Since we’re saving up for a house in 2021 we’re big proponents of not eating out unless it’s a planned treat. The weeks where we take the time to plan what we’re going to eat for all our meals go a lot more smoothly than if we try and decide at 6PM.
I theme each of my days for what I’m going to work on. Mondays are for writing, Tuesdays are learning, Wednesday is for social media planning, etc. Don’t forget to rest and take a #selfcaresaturday!
When you batch whatever it is that you’re working on you’ll get a lot more done because you aren’t shifting gears from one thing to the next. Implementing this had a profound effect on how much I could get done in a day.
I hope these 10 tools to streamline your life help you reach your goals and carve out the whitespace you so desperately need!
Do you have any tools that helped you streamline your life? Let me know below because you know I want that back-to-school shopping feels!
Want more? Check out my post on the best way to get started on your to-do list!