Organising the lab, home, office, and life

Life seems to happen no matter what you do. At the end of November I had all these great plans for what I was going to do between then and Christmas. Then, as I was starting to write lists of things to accomplish, in steps life and demands I take a break.

My counter after making raspberry filled bread "flowers". Which are like cinnamon rolls, but turned on their side.

My counter after making raspberry filled bread “flowers”. Which are like cinnamon rolls, but filled with raspberry jam and turned on their side and baked in muffin tins.

OK, not a break so much as I would consider it, but a break in the way that every day something needs to be done in preparation for Christmas or some holiday gathering with a client, colleague, family, or friends. Every. Bloody. Day. And, I don’t mean just go out, buy something, and toss it in a bag. That wouldn’t be me. Instead, I have some genuine fun and make something handmade. It’s even better if it looks like a scene from Dexter when I’m finished.

So, instead of pushing through and crashing, I’m starting my New Year’s business planning bash early. 

First thing on my list was to get my business, home, and personal lives working smoothly. So smoothly, in fact, that you’d never notice if something was amiss — and I would barely feel it if there was. This comes with making systems to guide me through the rough patches when there are just so many things piling up.

arcssA long time ago I bought the Arc System from Staples to use as my day planner. I love it because I can pull out pages, and put them where I want them to go. It takes up very little room, and can be flipped around like a spiral bound notebook to take up even less room on the desk than my old leather one I had been using (unsuccessfully) for years. They come in full notebook size, but I like the junior which is half the size. It fits better into the tablet bag, so I’m not required to carry a giant purse or backpack with me.

In the first few months I found “printable” calendars, organiser pages, and more. I started to mix and match from various sites, though my favourites are I Heart Planners and Buttoned Up do a really good job of providing lots of ideas and lots of freebies, none of them really filled that need I had. I mean, sure, I could classify my fiancé as a kid — he sure makes enough of a mess like one – but they lack the essentials for business, home, clients, AND lab research all in one. Plus, I found that the flourishing founds and girly girls drove me away from the planner, not to it.

So, what does an inventor do when they want something particular? They make it themselves. 

So that’s what I’m spending my month doing. I’m making my own calendar, marked with dates for people’s birthdays, my anniversary (so maybe I’ll remember?), and holidays that are particular to my in-laws that I show up to. I’m making task lists that are both generic and repeatable at both week and month level so I can print them out without hesitation and stick them in my notebook.

My weekly checklist looks like this and takes up one page in the planner. One page to flip to, check everything off as the time week ticks by, and then I can remove it.

Weekly checklist

Frankly, while I could be sustainable by laminating it, then using wet erase markers to check things off, I’ve found that most of the students I tutor always need scrap paper. And, there is something very satisfying about pulling the sheets out and using them as paper balls for basketball practice when I’m finished with the week.

Now I’m working on monthly checklists (things that only need to be done once a month), quarterly templates, and the counter part to the weekly checklist so I can keep track of all my appointments, projects, and mad science experiments all in one place right next to The List. I may have an unhealthy obsession with this by the end of the month, but at least I’ll be starting the new fiscal year off with everything in order.

Thing is, I remember back in uni that this sort of crush would have killed me. Thus, I’m sharing all my LibreOffice templates with you in case they will help. They are all editable in LibreOffice or OpenOffice Draw (.odp).  (Remember, I value bootstrapping and doing everything on the cheap. You can’t get much cheaper than absolutely free office software that does everything you need — hence, OpenOffice.) You can change every element of them from the shapes to the colours, the font type, and of course the text and layout. You can find them all on the “organisation templates” page. Download them, muck about with them, share them. I’d love to see how you alter them for your needs.

See you in the new year!