One ridiculously simple tool to improve organization
You may be surprised to learn how this one simple app can help you get organized.
I am what you might call a highly organized individual – and by highly organized, I mean that I take one day each month to straighten my computer cords and another to organize my pens and pencils. Knowing this, you may be surprised to learn that I am also notoriously bad about choosing a planning method and sticking with it. I used old-school datebooks for years, and have dabbled in every kind of online calendar out there. Phone planning has most certainly never worked in my favor. No so-called “solution” ever seemed to help me feel less stressed and more put together. This became even more of an issue when I started freelancing and juggling widely varying deadlines and projects from different clients.
One day, perhaps due to the fact that I was just completely fed up with my seeming inability to find a way to keep my deadlines and to-do’s organized, I more or less shrugged and opened up a virtual sticky note on my desktop PC. You know, that app that just about every PC and Mac has pre-installed but some people just never use?
I opened up the note, changed it to a pretty color, and typed “TO-DO:” across the top. I started filling in important deadlines and assignments, ordered by date and importance, and dragged the box as small as possible when I was done. Pulling it over to the corner of my screen, I felt a bit nervous about this simple method of planning and was not that confident that I would continue to use it.
You may be as shocked as I was to hear that I opened up that sticky note about a month ago, and I am still using it today with around a 99% success rate of remembering every little thing that I need to do. If you want to try this method yourself – and I am sure it will not work for everyone – here are the steps I suggest taking:
1. Open a new note.
As I mentioned above, most computers have a sticky note app preinstalled. There should be a free one available from your app store if this is not the case.
2. Choose a favorite color.
I am currently using a purple note. You may want to stick with a more traditional yellow. Just use whatever is easy on your eyes and will grab your attention. I am planning on changing colors every month or so to keep the note looking fresh.
3. Start typing!
You may not know this, but you can use bold, italics, underlines and more in most sticky apps. This helps you to keep your to-do’s logically organized in your brain. The format I currently use is arranged as follows:
And so on.
It is also really easy to delete items or save them somewhere else once you are finished with them – just don’t delete or close the sticky note unless you are completely done with it!
4. Minimize and drag the note.
You can expand the size of a note to be just about as big as you need it to be – and can shrink it down to show less information, too. I have been making mine so tiny when I am done with it that all I can read is “TO-DO.” I typically keep it in the corner of my screen, but place yours wherever works for you to keep an eye on it.
You can open up multiple notes if you need to. Maybe you would even like to color-code them to signify to yourself that they belong to different projects or have differing levels of priority. Sticky notes are really simple, but that simplicity lends itself to personalization.
Again, this method may be too simple for some or more than is necessary for others, but as long as you keep another “scratch” copy of all your due dates and important reminders elsewhere, you really should have nothing to lose by giving this method of planning a shot. It’s made my life simpler and less hectic, and I hope it can do the same for yours.