Let's Get Organized!
Oh hey there! So, we know you’re strapped for time and energy and headspace and precious caffeine. So for this month’s blog post, we’re going to get straight to the point. Deal? Deal.
What you’ll find in this post:
Actual tools that the Uncommon Team actually uses in their actual personal and professional lives. Actually. PLUS! All the things we’ve learned in our research about digital tools we can maximize.
Tips and tricks for what is most important to stay organized
Common challenges with solutions for you to try RIGHT NOW!
What you need to know first:
First and foremost, time management really comes down to setting boundaries for yourself. If you’re overwhelmed, these tools can help in some way but don’t be afraid to take a serious look at how you’re spending your valuable time. And be okay with saying no to people, places, and things that don’t serve you!
Our organization practices are always a work in progress, and we change and evolve over time. Try what you think might work for you, and let us know how it goes! We’d love to hear about it!
None of these are sponsored products - we actually use what we say we use, we’ve done our research on how we can use these tools better going forward, and we just want to share them with you!
Let’s get into it, shall we?!
CHALLENGE: DAY-TO-DAY CALENDARS, PLANNERS, AND TASKS
Many of us Uncommon Creatives use good old pen and paper to stay organized in our day-to-day lives, but we definitely use some digital tools as well.
These were a go-to for Jasmine back in college, and they were a godsend with her classes, clinicals, and 3 - yep 3! - jobs.
Janie shares the same affinity for tangible planners, and she loves this collection from Target! She added that the large full sheet sized planners are best and that Michael’s offers some really great options for beautiful organization!
Digital Calendars - Phone
Also, a favorite of Jasmine today, the calendar app on your phone can help to go a looooong way in knowing what your day, week, and month look like.
Sal also uses her iPhone calendar app for *almost* everything. With a fluctuating schedule, it is important to be cognizant of how much time it truly takes for everything. I mean everything - groceries, working out, work, even planning time for when she can plan.
Bonus relationship saver: Whenever there is something that involves her fiance, Jared, she invites his e-mail address to the event so that it is on his calendar right away as well.
Digital Calendars - Google
Bonus feature from Google calendar to make your life easier: Say “OK Google” into your phone or hit the microphone in your Google search. You can speak your event information into it right then and there! Think: “lunch with Jordan at noon on Wednesday” or “audition to be Beyonce’s backup dancer in my next lifetime.” You get the idea.
Digital To-Do Lists - Evernote
Sal has learned that Evernote allows you to create multiple lists to keep track of everything easily on the go. You can create tasks, you can add reminders for those tasks, and you can add checkboxes, to use it just like a to-do list.
Digital To-Do Lists - Apple Notes App
Janie and Jordan love to share and sync their notes app with each other to use it as a working document for general organization and shopping lists.
This is also handy for creating notes from other apps you have open. On your Apple device, you can select text from an article, for instance, and hit “Share,” then “Add to Notes” to save what you need on the go.
You can also ask your personal secretary, Siri, to “take a note” and “start a new note” for you with just your voice!
CHALLENGE: INBOX MANAGEMENT
Digital Tool: Outlook
Outlook has a tool that is perfect for organizing emails for short-term projects - create an email alias rather than a new email address altogether! Go to Inbox > Options > Create an Outlook alias, and the messages sent to this alias will be kept in a separate folder.
Digital Tool: Gmail
If you do have multiple email addresses for different roles in your life, you can keep multiple Gmail inboxes open at once without logging out. When you’re on a desktop, each account’s inbox will open in a new tab so you can keep hopping between them while you work.
At Uncommon, we are implementing a color coding system for our emails and using our labels to make sure that everything we are working on has a plan/person assigned to it, and that we’ve filed all of our older emails properly.
Digital Tools: Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo
Most email providers allow you to schedule an inbox cleanup to move old messages or all messages from a certain sender.
Signed up for too many newsletters and now your inbox is so flooded you don’t have time to read any of them?! We’ve all been there. Search “Unsubscribe” in your inbox, and it will show you every email that includes that word (which includes most newsletters). Gmail, in particular, has an “unsubscribe” button next to the sender’s name when you open the email. It will still be time-consuming on the front end, but it will make your life much easier in the long run!
CHALLENGE: RECEIPTS, BILLING, TAXES ... ADULTING.
As a business owner, Katie knows the importance of having all of her ducks in a row when it comes to expenses. She keeps track of her receipts in an expandable poly folder - one for every credit card that is used for expenses! All of the tabs have categories for her to easily organize each receipt.
Bonus freelancer tip: This is a wonderful tool for tax organization! Any expenses that can be written off can be easily found and reimbursed when tax season rolls around. Get excited, people!
Janie and Jordan are loving being new homeowners, and they have found The Stockholm collection from The Container Store to organize house documents, bill records, and receipts. And it doesn’t hurt that it is absolutely adorable as well! They also use and love their label maker to take their organization to the next level.
CHALLENGE: COLLABORATING & PLANNING
Digital Tools - Google Drive
We’ve got to say, Google Drive sweeps this category for us at Uncommon! Personally and in our business, we can share, edit, and collaborate easily. Here is what we love:
Business: We already use it to gather information from our wedding clients seamlessly. Plus, we'll be rolling out a new way to keep our Uncommon team updated on all critical event info in the coming months using Google Drive!
Personal: Spoiler Alert - some of our Uncommon Creatives will be taking a trip to the Magnolia Mecca, Waco, in the fall! As we plan our flights from different cities, look into lodging options, and share ideas for activities, we are keeping track of everything using a shareable Google Doc!
We can see the history of how the document has been revised by us and by others. We can also revert back to an earlier version if we ever need to.
We can tag people in comments so that they draw their attention to what we need from them.
*Another way to help gather information using the Google Drive Suite is by using Forms. You can set up a poll or survey and share it easily. Sal actually used Google Forms to track RSVPs for her sister’s bridal shower, and it was really slick!
CHALLENGE: SENSITIVE INFORMATION
Digital Tool: OneNote
Part of the Microsoft Suite, OneNote allows you to create a password to protect any of your pages, sections, or notebooks. Just tap on the page you need, enter your password, and it is unlocked for you.
Digital Tool - Apple Notes App
Similarly, you can set a password or use Touch ID on your device using the “Lock Note” option under “Share.”
Digital Tool - Yahoo Mail
Fun fact: Yahoo Mail includes a “Boss Mode” that allows you to instantly hide what you’re reading from peering eyeballs. It essentially puts your screen into an “all tabs” mode, so that the content of each open tab is small, making it difficult to read, but you can easily navigate to where you need to go from there. Say you’re in a public space and not sure who is around you, or your boss pops her head over your desk when you’re pinning tonight’s dinner recipe. Pretty handy.
CHALLENGE: BRIDGING PHYSICAL NOTES WITH DIGITAL NOTES
If you’re currently using physical notes, but you’re intrigued by some of the digital options, here are a few easy ways to make the transition:
Digital Tools - Evernote
Take photos of your post-it notes in the Evernote app and organize them digitally! It will auto-scan for you, and you can choose which Evernote notebook to save it in. You can still add notes, drawings, and attachments to it once it is digitized in the app.
Want a second listening ear while you’re taking notes in class? Record an audio file from a lecture, class, or meeting in your Evernote app.
Bonus: Easily share class information with fellow classmates by setting up a shared Evernote notebook.
Digital Tools - OneNote
One Note has a handy tool that allows you to copy an image and pull the text from that image easily.
Digital Tools - Google Drive
Similar to OneNote, the Google Drive mobile app allows you to snap an image, and that image creates searchable text.
ONLINE INSPIRATION, RANDOM MUSINGS, AND DRAWINGS
Digital Tool - Apple Notes
Like we mentioned, you can easily pull content from other apps and create a note in the Notes App on your Apple device.
Digital Tool - Evernote
Evernote has a handy Web Clipper option, which functions with Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. You can save a whole webpage in just a couple of clicks!
Bonus: add a reminder in Evernote, like mentioned above, so that you make sure you read the article you saved or take action on it, rather than letting it sit as a bookmark you never touch in your browser.
Digital Tool - OneNote
OneNote automatically adds a source link any time you copy and paste content from a website. This can come in very handy if you’re trying to keep track of where you found all of your information, particularly for including your references on a report.
OneNote allows you to easily draw in the program using the "Draw" toolbar as well!
So to sum it all up, you have more of a say in your time and energy than you think. And thank goodness! So many of these tools are already at your fingertips - literally! - and they can help to make your life that much easier. We’ve given you the highlights of what we’ve discovered, and we’d love to hear any other ideas or tools you use to stay organized. We’ve skimmed the surface here to show you just how many options exist, and we’re here to help you work through bringing them to life.
Until next time, friends,
The Uncommon Team