Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Planner update

Earlier in March, I was talking about my planner and how things were working for me.  Yes, I am still working on getting more and more organized, and of course that has meant that I have made a few more changes to how I do things.

At the beginning of March, I realized that my to-do list wasn't working for me, and I was keeping too many things in my head.  The keeping everything in my head also meant that I wasn't getting things done when I wanted to, and I ended up bouncing around too much. After a bit of thinking and trying to find a time management system that worked for me, I ended up with developing my own planner, and it seems to be working pretty well.

The planner is once again using the ARC system from Staples which I love and what I do is I work with a new page each day and I list out the things that I want to do during that day. I started with the things that needed to get done on a day and dated the page.  It seemed to work, and then I set up a key that makes it easy for me to move things forward or mark as completed.

Through this process I have figured out things that I do every day and things that I do every week and things that are done only once in a while.  For the things that are done every day, I have a monthly checklist for those items so that I don't have to rewrite them each day.  It means that the little things that are done quickly get a check mark when they are done, and then it is onto the next thing on the list.  I have even developed a checklist for a couple of the other things that I work on, as some of these are nine different little steps that are done over various times.

What is nice with using the ARC system for this daily to-do list is what when the day is over, I can move the day to the back of the book, and I am ready for the next day.  Sure, it means that things are rewritten a few times when I don't get around to working on them, but it also means that I am seeing that I am getting things done. The key that I developed also helps me quickly figure out what the item is and what I really need to do.  When I have a bunch of things that need to email, it means that I can do them all together instead of messing up and forgetting to do the emails. Thoughts and notes are also put down, and then I am able to put them into the correct spot when I go back and review my list at the end of the day. Another great thing about the ARC system is when I am going out to events or meetings, I can quickly take the day or two worth of to-do's with me so that I know what is ahead of me.

I still have the longer term to-do list in my big ARC planner, but now I have all the little things that I want and need to do with me and I can see that things are getting done.  I normally have things written even for a couple of days ahead because then the day starts to get too full, I know it is time to start to move things to another day and then see how it goes.  

Sure, my planner has meant some work at the beginning and end of each day, but at least I am now starting to see that I am getting things done, and I am not having to try and remember everything.  I hope to be able to continue to improve on my planner method and maybe one day I will be back to only have one big planner and one little ARC book, but for now I have the two little ARC books and the big ARC book, and it works for me.

Monday, March 19, 2018

You, Me and a Crazy Schedule

As some of you may know, I run a small IT consulting business with my husband, and that can be a challenge sometimes. For us, it is sometimes a challenge to figure out what we are both working on and how our schedule actually works together. We decided a while ago that one way to try and keep our schedule known to the other was to start using Google Calendar for a lot of the things that we do. One of the key steps that we did for that was to set up a Gmail account for the business, and that is where we manage a lot of our schedule.

Yes, managing two schedules for work as well as personal life can be a challenge, but we decided that we would be putting all the different things onto one calendar so that the two of us can see what is going on. Sure, the calendar can look a little busy sometimes, but at least we both know that is going on, and that does help a lot. It also means that if there is a conference coming up or even bills that need to be paid, they are entered into the calendar. The important thing to remember is to turn off the reminders on events that are just notes and not something that is time specific.

The calendar has given the two of us a better understanding of the overall schedule that we are dealing with, and it helps a lot. I know that there are times when I look at the calendar can start laughing because it just seems like there are weeks when there are so many things on it and then another week it is pretty quiet. The quiet weeks may look quite, but those are normally weeks when bigger things are happening, and we are doing other tasks that need to be done.

Our calendar is synced to both of our phones so that we have it with us when we aren’t home because that also helped let the other one know, what is going on. We found that making sure that even the little things are noted means that it is easier to schedule client meetings when we know what else is going on in our lives. The one thing that needed to be on the calendar was all the holidays because without those you could be scheduling a weekend of work when it’s a holiday weekend and people really don’t want to work that weekend. Besides having the calendar on our phones, I also have a paper copy of it because it means that if I can on the phone with someone I can quickly see what is going on without having to try and check my calendar which is also on the device I am using for the conversation.

One day I was looking at our calendar and someone asked me how many kids we had because we were so busy. I explained that we didn’t have any kids but when you are managing two work lives, two personal lives and things we do together the calendar can look a little crazy depending on when you see it. Yes, some people may laugh at our calendar, but it works for us and that is what is important. We have found a method of keeping track of the different things in our lives, and it works for us. It may not work for everyone, but that is fine because every is different.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Social Media

There are so many ways to connect with people now through Social Media that it can get a little overwhelming if you try to do everything. I know that I have had to make decisions as to where I want to be and where it isn’t going to be part of my life right now, as I just don’t have the time or energy to be everywhere.

For me, I have decided that I will be on three different social media sites, and I am going to try and limit it to that. I am on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and I think that can be busy enough if you try and keep up with everything. LinkedIn is the one that I find the easiest to manage because there are the social posting most of the time. Sure, there are the posts about different articles and such, but that is it, so that is easy to handle.

Facebook is something else and that can be a job in itself, and I don’t keep up with everyone on it as I would have to be watching the screen all the time to do that. Facebook is a great way to connect with people, especially friends and relatives, but everyone has to understand that not everyone is on it all the time and not everyone posts everything about their life on it. Facebook for me is something that I use a bit, and I am one of those that doesn’t post everything on it. I have had people complain that they don’t see what we are doing, and part of that is because I don’t want my entire life out for the friends and family to see. Yes, I will post the occasional update about things, but again they are few and far between. I do post in some of the groups that I belong to, but again I don’t post often as it would just take too much of my time to do that. I will sometimes like a post, but again with the amount of stuff that groups can post on a daily basis it can be a challenge to see everything and I just don’t try and do that.

Twitter, now here is one social media platform that can be like a garden hose and trying to keep up with everything that is posted can nearly impossible. On the weekends it doesn’t seem to be quite as bad as during the week, but again it can be a challenge to keep up with just all the posts that come in. I am following 198 different accounts and have 24 follows, so you can see that I am not out there a lot. Sure, it can help you keep updated with what is going on, but you can miss a lot of things as well and that is something that you have to accept when you are part of Twitter or most of the social media platforms.

Recently, I was talking to someone about a group on Facebook that I belong to, and she said that I never post in the group or even comment on other posts. I was a little surprised when she said that because I have posted and commented in the group, so didn’t know what she was talking about. After a few seconds I did let her know that I do post in the group and I like various posts, but considering how many posts there are in the group it is difficult to see everything someone comments on or likes. The other thing that made me laugh is I am not friends on Facebook with this person, so I can like tons of posts, but she isn’t going to be my name as someone that has liked a post.

Yes, I know that I quite often have Facebook and Twitter open on my computer during a business day, and part of that is because I keep an eye on a Facebook and Twitter account which is for work. I want to ensure that people are not posting things that should be posted on those sites. Sure it looks like I spend hours on these two social media platforms, but honestly they may be open but most of the time when are hidden from view, and I am doing the other work that needs to be done, and I check into these sites from time to time to ensure that everything is still good.

I know that there are a lot of other Social Media platforms that I could belong to like Instagram and others, but it can be a challenge to keep up with what I am currently on, so I am not going to add more things to track right now. I understand that there are people that are on most if not all the different social media platforms, but I have no idea how they can keep up with everything and also work and do everything else they do. I know what makes me happy and that is what I am going to stick with and sure if you don’t see me comment or post on a group maybe you have just missed it and that is what social media is like.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Driving distances

How many times have you received a call from someone visiting from outside of North America thinking that they can get to see you quickly? I know that, just being able to realize that Canada is a lot bigger than a lot of the European countries. I have done a bit of a comparison to show the differences between Canada and some of the European countries.

  • Nuremberg Germany – Berlin Germany 449km
  • Nuremberg Germany – Munich Germany 226km
  • London England – Glasgow Scotland 663km
  • Plymonth England – Inverness Scotland 1,107km
  • Vancouver, British Columbia – Halifax Nova Scotia 6,610 km
  • Toronto, Ontario – Montreal, Quebec 541 km

Part of what can be interesting is when you have people visiting from Europe, and they think that everyone in a city or even a province should know everyone else. I have also heard that people in one city in Canada thinks it will only take an hour or two to drive between major cities. One comparison is someone wanting to go to Toronto for lunch when they are in Montreal for a business meeting. I know that this happened, and someone received a call from a business colleague visiting Montreal from Europe, and they were driving to Toronto to take the other individual out for lunch. The European individual didn’t realize that the drive between those two cities were more than a 5-hour drive, not the hour or two that they were normally doing in Europe.

Another thing that happens is some of the different European vendors don’t think about how long it takes to drive from city to city in Canada, and they send out the different events in cities that are hours away. We recently received an email about an event in Ottawa in April, while the same event is being hosted in Toronto in September. Why would I drive 4 hours to Ottawa for a one-day event when I can go to the same event here in Toronto without having the expense of travel time and also a hotel that would be required to be at the event at 8 am.

Yes, Canada is a very large country, and it takes days to drive from coast to coast and not just hours. It can be interesting to see the difference in times between getting between major cities depending on what country you are talking about. I enjoy comparing the differences between the different countries and seeing how long it takes to get from major city to major city. So next time you hear someone talk about why don’t we know everyone in our country, let them know that we are an extremely large country, and it would be difficult to know everyone either in our city, province or country.