You’ve got questions, I’ve got answers
When I shared my post about Tracking Your Social Media Marketing on another site, I started getting questions asking me about my tracking programs.
Could they get a link to download my worksheets? And then I was messaged on Twitter with a “how do I get all this done?”
My answer is simple – organizational planning, my friends. Lots and lots of planning.
I’m a secret organizational nerd. If you were to come into my office, you’d see my different colored binders set up for each of my projects.
Each binder has a decorative cover and the first page is a master task list of everything I need to do to finish that project. I’ve even been known to use the same color sticky notes that match the color of the binder.
I have matching colored project sticky notes stuck to my white board. And next to them are my goal sheets, my habit tracker and the lists of my upcoming local workshops.
I get excited walking through the office supply store’s planners section so I can get new ideas. Yeah, I know. I’m a total organization geek.
My advice to you
While I admit that some days it feels like I have a slight touch of OCD, if I wasn’t so organized, I couldn’t get all my stuff done. And since I just celebrated my 15th anniversary of being in business, I feel like I have enough experience to help you get organized.
So here is my advice to you as well as some suggestions to get your stuff done:
1. The most important thing I can tell you is to plan, plan and then when you think you’re done, plan some more.
For those of you who cringe at the thought of planning stuff, break it down into 30 minute sessions. Create smaller action item lists to to plan out at least 3 – 4 months of content, blog posts and your upcoming projects.
2. My best piece of advice is to create your planning system based on how you work best.
Not everyone works the same way. Some of us like everything to be digital while others like to write it out. And some people need visual triggers and create a system where they can see the whole plan laid out with sticky notes.
I’m like a mixed up version of everything. But I figured out what works for me. I find time to add my planning sessions into my schedule. And I consistently follow it to avoid that overwhelming feeling of not knowing what’s next.
Do you live life in the digital fast lane?
Are you ones of those people who would rather type quick notes into your phone and take photos of your receipts? Take a look at this list of programs to help you stay organized:
I love the fact that I can pull up the program on my laptop, review my work from my phone or add in some new ideas when I’m on my tablet at night.
I use it for taking notes, making checklists for projects, saving image ideas and just recently, I created all of my new Productivity coaching sessions into their own notebook.
Now when someone works with me, we can work directly through Evernote instead of dealing with all those crazy emails back and forth.
2. Trello: I was using this app before I discovered Evernote. I still love the simplicity of this visual program when you’re working on group projects. You just drop and drag the Trello boards and cards as you progress through your project.
3. WordPress Editorial Calendar plugins: Even though they basically sit inside your WordPress blog, you can use their features to help you stay organized with your content and posting on your social media sites.
Here are the top three plugins for you to review:
- Editorial Calendar plugin – this one is the most popular and the easiest to use
- Edit Flow – this program allows you to work with a team of people and helps everyone stay on track with the workflow process
- CoSchedule – this program costs $10 a month but unlike the free ones, it has a ton of cool features to help you get your stuff done
Are you a visual “I gotta see it” kinda person?
I have a close friend who visually organizes her stuff. I love looking at her color-coded sticky note planning notebook and watch how she shifts the blue notes into the done column in her project chart.
Her white board looks like a bunch of puzzle pieces for the different parts of her projects. To me, it looks like a bunch of inter-connected Lego pieces but she swears by it. That’s how she gets her stuff done.
If you’re one of those people who visually organize your world, here’s a couple of ideas to help you keep track of everything:
1. Sticky-Note GTD System: This process is a combination of a paper system, an organization planner and lots of sticky notes. The blogger who wrote this post gives you a step-by-step process of how she gets her action items done with checklists and moving the notes into different columns.
She’s even included a free pdf download to give you a starting place to create your own list.
2. Visual Homemade Hodgepodge: This system caught my eye on Pinterest one day. I love how this blogger just pulled together her own organizational system based on what she needs and not what some template tells us to track.
What works for me
I’m a little bit digital with my Evernote and a little bit visual with my colored binders. But mostly, I like to write stuff out.
There’s something about having a pen in my hand and scribbling out my notes that warms my organizational planning heart.
Let me share with you my planning process:
1. Evernote – I use this program to post my idea notes and make my lists. I save articles for newsletters and research for my blogging articles but my real planning comes from my worksheets that I created.
2. Monthly Themes – I usually plan 3 months at each planning session. The first thing I do is come up with a theme or a focus for each month. My focus is based around a new product launch or a particular idea that I’d like to expand on.
For example, one month I focused on problem solving. This month’s focus helped me come up with this blog post How to Sell Solutions not the Product.
Here’s a link to download my Monthly Themes worksheet.
3. Brainstorm process – This is the step I think most people forget to do. It’s a quick process that helps you come up with some great ideas.
First you pick one of your topics (or for me, my monthly theme) and I write down a couple of word prompts for each idea. I do this for 10 minutes and just write out everything that comes into my head.
Then I take 5 of my best ideas from my list and create another list that adds in more details. I give myself another 5 minutes for each idea to do this part of the process.
I find that taking my word prompts and adding details helps me flush out my ideas even more.
By the time I’m done with adding details to my top five ideas, I’ve pulled together at least 5 blog posts, prompts to look for new content for my social sites and ideas for my images.
If you want to give this a try, you can download my Brainstorm Process worksheet.
4. Monthly Schedule – And last but not least, is my monthly schedule. I pull together all my ideas and plan them out for the month. I get out my monthly schedule and pick which date I’ll post which blog idea.
Sometimes things shift around but for the most part, I have a guide of what to work on next. I can tell what I need to start researching, what images I need to pull together and what content will get posted into my social sites for that week.
Take a look at my Monthly Schedule worksheet and see if this helps you plan out your content.
AND when I have a lot of projects going on at the same time, I use my Visual Content Calendar. You can read more about how this works and download a copy of the Visual Content Calendar.
My last bit of advice for you is this – Don’t worry if you can’t find what you’re looking for in a store or using someone’s templates. You can always create your own system like I did.
What’s more important is that you find something that works for you. Because the more it fits your work style, the greater chances you have of staying with it. And when you find something that works, that means less stress and confusion and the more you’ll get done.