Running a website, blog or online business can feel like you are doing several different jobs at the same time. Having to be the director, the marketing manager, the social media manager, the accountant as well as the day to day tasks can become overwhelming.
But, by planning in advance, setting recurring tasks and putting in place boundaries, you can organize your online life to reduce the overwhelm. Here’s how.
Stand back and look at the big picture. Start off with a wide view, look at the next year or quarter,and decide what are the things that you need to accomplish? What are the dates and events that you need to plan for? Put these into a calendar, diary or wall chart.
Then look on a monthly basis. Take the things from the yearly or quarterly view and put those in. Then add in any recurring tasks that you need to do each month. Break tasks down further into smaller tasks
Then look at a more narrow view on weekly and daily tasks. What can you accomplish and when? What are the micro actions that you need to do to complete the tasks?
Look at the tasks you need to complete; some will be high priority, others medium and some quite low. And yes, there may be some things you don’t really need to do at all!
Start by cutting out anything that isn’t necessary and what isn’t bringing you a return on the time investment you put in. Be honest with yourself. What tasks are going to give you the best returns on your investment of time and energy?
Then prioritize the remaining into high, medium and low. This helps to reduce the overwhelm of which task to do next!
Working in a messy physical environment can contribute to feelings of overwhelm and chaos in your digital space. Does your physical workspace need a tidy up? Set a 15 min timer and do as much as you can in that time. This isn’t about making your space perfectly instagrammable, just about getting it functional enough to work in.
Then there is your computer and digital space. Tidy up emails and delete old ones. You can even get apps and extensions that help you do this. Sort folders on your computer so you know where everything is. Even small things like setting up a shortcut on your taskbar or adding a bookmark to your internet browser to the things you use most can make things much easier.
There are some things we have to do each week or month. Make doing these regular tasks as easy as possible by batching. Decide on a specific time or day to do things, then calendar in and block out time for these tasks.
If you use something like Google Calendar, it’s easy to set recurring tasks on a regular basis. Once you have all the recurring tasks planned in, everything else that comes up can be worked around them.
Make use of scheduling as much as you can. Social media posts can be scheduled, this feature is often built into the apps themselves, but there are also third party solutions.
Schedule blog posts ahead of time. Get into the habit of writing blog post drafts, even if they are outlines, aiming to be at least a couple of posts ahead of your schedule. This means you have a bit of leeway should you fall ill, or life just gets busy.
You can also make use of tools like Zapier and IFTTT to automate tasks. There are so many things you can do with automation tools, from automating repetitive tasks such as adding data to a spreadsheet to receiving text messages when someone schedules an appointment via Calendly.
Tools and Apps
Using organizational tools, apps and software can make your online life simpler. But it is easy to get excited by new and different apps and end up with information in lots of places! So to keep things simple, restrict yourself to having one or two main places for the bulk of your info.
This can be as straightforward as using the Google suite of productivity tools to using more specific tools like Notion or Dubsado. Choose what works for you and that you find easy to use. Once you have the main organizational app or software setup, it doesn’t mean you can’t use another app for a very specific task, but try to limit what you use.
And if you struggle with endless scrolling on social media taking up your time, look at apps that restrict your time on social media apps.
Setting healthy boundaries can drastically improve your work life balance.
Some boundaries to consider are: your working hours – when can you work, when are you most productive and what times and days work around your personal and family life?
Responding to emails and social media messages – when will you respond to messages,do you have a time limit, or have set times and days that you do this?
What jobs you are willing to take on – this can cover the types of projects you take on, the companies you work with, sponsored posts you write and guest posting. Choose what aligns with your values and what works for you.
Create your own rules
You might be someone who thrives on routine, and having the familiar daily routine from office life might be how you work best. But you may hate a strict timetable and find that you function much better in a way that adapts and shifts in a freer way.
Coming from traditional and corporate employment there can be lots of rules that we think we should adhere to when it comes to work. But here is the thing, this is YOUR space and you are in control, you get to decide what you do and when you do it.
Untangling what actually works for you from what other people do and what you think you should do, can take time and some experimenting, but it can only benefit you in the long run.
What are your top tips for organizing your online life?