Organizing my life when I have A LOT to do
October 13, 2017 8:47 AM   Subscribe

I have a lot going on in my life and am having a hard time keeping track of and managing it all. Please recommend an app/combination of apps to help me stay on track!

Things I need to manage:

- My full-time desk job: this is not a job where I do the same thing everyday; tasks change, we might be working on 2+ projects simultaneously, so I need to be able to remember what tasks I need to do each day for each project. Thankfully, I do not bring work home.
- Writing short posts for two sites, twice a week.
- Managing social media
- Staying on track with the professional development goals that I've set with my manager
- Seasonal volunteer (design) work I do for a nonprofit that I really care about
- Keeping up with my reading list (this is partly for fun, as I LOVE reading, and partly for the sites I write for)
- Taking care of my house and family--keeping the fridge stocked, planning meals, keeping the place relatively tidy
- Socializing (???)

Although it seems like a lot, dropping one of these bullet points isn't really possible. Part of the reason I'm juggling extra work outside my FT job is because I dislike my FT job and am working to build something that will help me shift into a new (mostly unrelated) field. Hence, the reading and writing and social media-ing. (I love doing those things!) Even the professional development goals my manager has had me set...I plan on using my improved skills to get a new job. (Sorry if that seems disloyal but I work at a company that is constantly losing employees and is in the midst of a slow, drawn out, years-long death spiral. I do not plan on being here to witness The End.)

I'm looking for an app/combination of apps that will help me stay on track with daily, weekly, monthly tasks, remind me to send out posts on social media, remind me to start working on articles, help with meal planning, etc. I get overwhelmed easily when I think about the general, large amount of work I have in front of me and lose sight of the smaller, achievable goals those tasks can be broken down into.

I prefer apps, because I can never keep up with a paper planner and my phone is always, always with me. I don't mind paying for an app or monthly subscription if the service is good.

Also, because this may come up, in terms of family helping me out with home tasks, my husband is very helpful already and does laundry, loads the dishwasher, etc. I just feel overwhelmed by general home tasks if I don't break them down into manageable chunks.

Thank you very much for the advice.
posted by galaxypeachtea to Work & Money (8 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Love Trello for multiple projects. You can include deadlines, checklists, links. Great stuff.
posted by crunchy potato at 8:56 AM on October 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Here is what I would do.

Using Trello, create a board for each of the areas/categories you listed in your question. You can track todos/checklists, docs, etc in it. Get into the habit of dumping what you need to do into it before doing it. You'll have to find the right fidelity with experimentation.

Then get a calendar. I use a hard copy one, but google calendar can work too. Sit down and make time in your schedule to both groom and work from your lists. Example:

Monday is work list a, 1 hour for professional growth list, workout, dinner and reading.
Tuesday is work list b, meal planning, house maintenance

posted by pazazygeek at 8:59 AM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am a big fan of todoist for organising everything you need to do.

I have several projects (basically folders) of tasks.
Under work there is my day job and my writing side gig. With every task and due date recorded.

I have a social tasks projects with things like people's birthdays or reminders to emails someone I don't see very often and invite them to dinner or whatever.

I have recurring tasks for things I have to do relatively often, but not daily (like polish shoes for example)

I have shopping lists. I have "Wacky Schemes" (i.e. things that would be fun or interesting but aren't a priority)
Major goals (things that will take a long time to do or achieve, but I kinda want to get to someday)

You can interface with Alexa or Google assistant so I can just shout "Alexa Add reply to that askme to my todo list tomorrow" and it'll add an item to the todo list, dated for tomorrow. Same iwth shopping lists and so on.
It also interfaces with Chrome, Outlook, Windows, Google Calendar, RescueTime and Exist (all of which I use) so it's basically omnipresent.

Oh, you can also schedule shifting dates for things. So you can say Get a hair cut !Every three months and the exclamation mark there means that it'll pop up in three months and then sit there till you do it. Then once you have it'll pop up three months from when you last did it.

Also also, you can include comments and attachments to each task. So For example I needed to set up a standing order to pay for the nursery but didn't have the little card readery machine at work. So I just copied and pasted the required standing order details and set a geo reminder. So when I get home my phone will buzz and tell me to do the thing and I'll have all the details right there, no need to go and look up the sort code or amount or anything.

You can have shared projects and tasks should you need to. My wife also uses it (not quite as religously as I do) so I can see if and when she'd done a thing in out shared home stuff or writing folders.

Everything goes in there from smallest (Polish Shoes) to largest (Travel to US on 8 Apr 2024 to see eclipse).
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 9:14 AM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I also am a big fan of Trello for longer-span life organization.

And I lean heavily on the google suite to keep my day to day life in order.

Google Keep is just about the most useful single app in my world. I put everything into it--shopping lists, links I want to reference later, photos of things I want to buy or make or do, random ideas, notes, you name it. It has time based and location based reminders. I set them ALL THE TIME for EVERYTHING. Like to remind me to go pick up my prescriptions, or to buy a card for a birthday next week, or one that dings when I'm within a couple blocks of a Target to remind me the infrequently-purchased things I need from there. Keep copies the reminders onto my google calendar and pins them to the top of my google inbox, so I have THREE different places shouting at me to remember to do the thing--much harder for me to swipe something away and forget about it.

I'm also just starting to stick my toe into TinyBlu to help me keep in regular touch with my team of volunteers for my volunteer thing since I have a lot of folks at different experience levels who all require different levels of my attention. I can't really speak to this one yet but I think it might be useful for this purpose for me, and make work for your need to manage your socializing better for you.
posted by phunniemee at 9:23 AM on October 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

one that dings when I'm within a couple blocks of a Target

Can you set that alert to a generic location? Like "If I'm near a target go bing"
With all the other things I've seen you need to be more specific (like to choose an actual location) and I've always really wanted a thing that just says "Hey, you're near a chemist right now, go get those drugs you wanted"
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 9:28 AM on October 13, 2017

Can you set that alert to a generic location? Like "If I'm near a target go bing"

Not that I'm aware, though that would be a great feature. My sentence wasn't clear--I have it set to A Particular Target (one that I happen to drive near once every several weeks but has no visibility from the road).
posted by phunniemee at 9:42 AM on October 13, 2017

It seems like most of your tasks are recurring, either every day or a few times a week. In that case, I would recommend a habit tracker that reminds you to do XYZ every day but doesn't tell you when. (A basic calendar app like Google calendar can tell you when.) If the aesthetics don't turn you off, Habitica is by the far the most fully featured habit tracker.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:51 AM on October 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I use Loop, it's a pretty good free, basic habit tracker app.
Very basic.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 12:28 PM on October 13, 2017

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