I don’t know about you, but midway through the year, I always seem to get the itch to reorganize everything! I guess I’m more of a summer cleaner than a spring cleaner. June always seems to sneak up on me, and then I find myself wondering where the first half of the year went. Maybe that’s why I feel a sudden push to get everything organized and take advantage of the remaining six months in the year.
With that, I always start to question the apps I’m using and if my business systems are effective enough. But after three years in business, I’ve come to realize that it’s really just shiny object syndrome — is that new, shiny app over there better? I’ve wasted enough time playing with new apps now to know that I always ultimately go back to my tried-and-true favorites. So these days, I’m pretty good about asking myself how I can improve what I’m already doing instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. Here’s a peek at the four main apps that keep my business organized, and how I use them to organize tasks and projects.
I’ve tried nearly every task management system out there, and I always come running back to Todoist. For my current setup, I’ve created projects for every client, internal project, and area of my business. Each project in Todoist has a colored dot next to it, and I use this to color code my tasks. Client projects are one color, internal projects (like ebooks) are another color, and admin and support get their own projects with their own colors.
Every task I add in Todoist gets a due date, whether it needs one or not, so that it shows up in the calendar views. Initially, all tasks get a due date of the Monday of the week I plan to complete the task. Then, each Monday I use the 7 day view to distribute tasks throughout the week. Because each task is color coded according to its project, I can easily move tasks to the appropriate days (for example, I typically do most of my admin and internal project tasks on Mondays).
While I could share projects with clients through Todoist, I like that Trello is a bit more visual and made with collaboration in mind. So while each client has a project on my personal Todoist so I can keep track of my own tasks within my bigger task list, we also share a Trello board for communication and uploading files.
I used to handle all of my client communication through email, but after my 20th time searching through email chains of 40+ emails to find that one short email with the login information I needed, I had enough. With Trello, I keep all communication organized by list for the client, for me, for reference, and marked as complete. Each part of the design process has its own card, and I create additional cards for anything else I need from the client so I can always find the information quickly at a later point in time. I also organize internal projects through Trello, just so I can link files, resources, and see everything that needs to be done in one place.
Evernote is basically the dumping ground for my brain. It’s where I keep my thoughts and plans before I’m ready to take action. It’s my journal of sorts, but much more organized. I have notebooks for brainstorming, drafts, random thoughts and ideas, and bookmarks from around the web. It’s really the place where I think through things in writing.
For me, the key to Evernote is create a lot of notebooks and get specific. For example, instead of having one notebook for notes from ecourses I take, I create a new notebook for each ecourse, even if that notebook only has one or two notes in it. That way, when I want to find that one specific thing from that ecourse I took last fall, I’m not looking through notes from five other ecourses.
If Evernote is where I keep my rough drafts, Google Drive is where I keep the final copies. It’s where I keep documents I need to refer back to often or share. Personally, I don’t like the mobile apps for Google Drive and Docs, so that’s another reason my thoughts and ideas go into Evernote instead — the app is much easier to use on the go.
Where Google does excel is formatting and sharing. I also like that it integrates directly with other services, including Trello.
Are you a spring cleaner or a summer cleaner? How do you keep your tasks and projects organized? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. I’m hosting a free blogging challenge June 8-12! If you’d like to get ahead on blogging for the summer, join me for Blog Out Knock Out.