How do you do it all? People ask me that a lot.
Because I am an over-extender. Not an over-achiever mind you, an over-extender. I do too much, put too much in my calendar. I juggle too many balls and drop some occasionally. OK, more than occasionally. And it’s proceeded to get worse every year.
I have a full-time job (Klein Buendel), full-time husband (Bugfrog), and full-time kid (Declan). Not to mention friends, family, PTA, blog, twitter, photography, pottery, and the million other things I cram into our days. Because make no mistake, it’s ME doing the cramming. Bryan just tries to keep up, while his head spins and spins.
So. How do I do it?
Not to sound all braggity-brag – but I am tech-savvy and I use techy tools heavily – and quickly. I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but this is, literally, how I manage it all.
Chris Brogan wrote yesterday about his tricks for keeping in touch online. And he has A LOT of people to keep in touch with. Of course, he meant more in reference to building your “brand,” but a lot of his tips fall in line with what I do every day to keep up with life.
Here are my tricks.
I have multiple calendars. One for work, one for family, one for blog stuff, one for birthdays, one for household stuff. All color-coded and separate. It is easy to see what I need to, and it is easy for Bryan to subscribe to Family and only get the things he needs to know about. And I have my work Mac, my home Mac, my laptop and iPhone all synced to these calendars through Mobile Me, so I can see what is going on at any location.
2. Morning & Evening Email Cleanse
I have 3 main email accounts. One for work, one for home and one for my blog. The first thing I do every morning is go through all three and make sure there is nothing urgent that needs attention. I answer what I can, flag the stuff I need to come back to, delete what is unnecessary. I like to get emails out of my inbox, so to archive a message, I save a text file into that project’s “Memos” folder on my hard drive to get it out of my way. I do the same cleanse at the end of the day when I am fried and don’t feel like doing anything else. I try not to go back to email as much as possible (ha ha ha) during the day if I can. For me personally, I know I have my email under control if I have roughly 100 emails in my inbox (again, ha ha ha!).
I absolutely, positively have to have music running at all times. I get twitchy if iTunes is not rolling in the background. I have many playlists. Some smartlists by ratings or playcounts (4+ stars, 200+ plays), some by genre (high energy, mellow), some by artist. They are all there and ready for my mood.
Make no mistake. This phone is the best thing since sliced bread. It will soon be soldered to my hand. I read through a few emails in the check-out line. I see some tweets while waiting for my doctor. I fill in time that I might have been reading People magazine with things that are worthwhile. To me, at least. Bryan has been iPhone deprived the past few years and said to me the other day, “I finally get it.” Uh-huh. There are SO MANY THINGS I get done on this thing that sames me time. Lists, emails, maps, notes, memos, etc etc.
5. Twitter Tools
I like Tweet Deck a lot, but THERE IS NO WAY I can have Tweet Deck continuously up on my second monitor like so many people do. I would just stare at it all day long, or until my API ran out. So, when I need a 5 minute break, I will pull Tweet Deck up and check in. Or I’ll even go straight to the web site. But here is the deal. I have given myself the permission to NOT read every tweet that every friend sends out. I only have a few people with devices turned on and coming to my phone. I catch what I can, and you should too. There are so many interesting people and while I would love to catch every interesting thing said on Twitter, THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH HOURS IN A DAY. I look at it like going to the pool. You dive in and enjoy it, but you can’t stay at the pool all day long.
6. Flickr Management
Same thing with Flickr. I could stare at pretty pictures all day. But over lunch, when I have a good 1/2 hour chunk of time, I will cycle through the following: Bookmarked Flickrstreams of 10 or so favorite Flickrfriends, first 5 or so pages of my contact photos, last 7 days of Explore (and refresh about 10 times). I try to go comment and fave because I like comments and faves and I like karma and I like spreading the love – especially for all those talented people putting their work out there like that.
7. Blog Reading
I am sad to say that blog reading has fallen well below what it used to for me. I still try to, at least twice a week, catch up with my favorites through Google Reader. I have about 100 feeds in there, so obviously that takes some time. I have them organized by category, so that if I am in the mood to read about tech, I do. If I am in the mood to read about parenting, I do. If I am not, I give myself permission to “mark as read” for the whole category and move on. I hope everyone else feels the same about me – we all have lives and stopping by sometimes is better than never coming at all. But when I do read, same as with Flickr, I try to comment as much as possible to make sure they know I read their words, and heard what they were putting out there.
8. Phone Calls
I hate the phone. I don’t call anyone unless I absolutely have to. Not that I don’t love hearing from people. Just the phone is weird. I buy time back from not being on the phone.
And I totally don’t watch TV. Literally not ever. Except American Idol. I swear. NEVER. This is where we gain the most time back of anything. I still have no clue who Jon and Kate are.
I admit, I am very lucky and we are able to hire services to help with things like cleaning the house and mowing the lawn. But! Before you think me back to being all braggity brag, we canceled cable to afford that cleaning service and it was worth every single penny! My point being, we sat down and looked at priorities and made it work for us.
OK. That’s how *I* do it.
What are *your* tips for making life a little bit easier to manage?
P.S. This was not a sponsored post in any way.