Simplify Your Time Management With the Rule of 7

Author : kawughebat
Publish Date : 2021-04-30 18:46:12
Simplify Your Time Management With the Rule of 7

I am single handedly the least organized person in my life. My backpack in high school was a nuclear fallout site — Chernobyl in a sack. Every assignment I handed in was crumpled and folded over a dozen times. It’s a miracle they got handed in at all, really, and not lost in the physics-defying Ramona Flowers-like bottomless void of a bag I carried.
I thought I lost my W-2 earlier this year. I should not, I repeat should not, be trusted to handle large amounts of physical paper. It will not be returned to you in good form, if it’s returned at all.
Luckily it’s 2021, and the world is mostly digital. The digital landscape is flooded with tools for productivity, organization, and project management. The problem with that is that there are so many options available, and for someone like me who suffers from ADHD, it can be overwhelming. Crippling, even.
Before you waste hours and days going through all the options — and trust me, you will spend days trying to find the “perfect” system — let me save you some trouble and make myself feel like those days weren’t wasted.

1. A planner/To-do list/Calendar
In working with my therapist to find strategies of managing my ADHD, he suggested I use a planner. I’ve never in my life used a planner successfully.
In school, they gave us weekly planners to write our homework assignments in, track due dates, and manage our work. They tried their hardest, from the time I was in middle school, to get us to use them and stay organized.
I lost mine within a week.
For whatever reason, my brain could never plan for the future in a logical way. I just… knew when assignments were due, and that was that. But when you’re trying to run a business and earn a living for yourself, this isn’t an effective strategy. I’m also a horrible procrastinator, so my natural tendencies to put off work until the last minute and lose track of important dates is not ideal.
“In my experience,” my therapist said, “women tend to use small pocket planners since they usually carry a bag. Guys usually have an easier time just using an app. I’d say just start with the calendar and reminders on your phone first.”
Well, what do you know? I thought. I’m going to do my research, get a physical planner and use the shit out of it.
I ended up purchasing a Panda Planner as it seemed to have a good mix of the things I wanted: monthly, weekly, and daily views, a gratitude section, and project management.
And I didn’t use it. I tried to, I really did. I woke up each morning, wrote out, hour by hour, what I was going to do, but the second I went off schedule, the entire system derailed. There was no way, because I wrote in pen, for me to rearrange my schedule. I also hate my handwriting.
I caved. I admitted defeat. Turns out, my therapist was right (shocker); an app was the more effective strategy for me. Of course, then you encounter the issue of which app you’re going to use. Personally, I’ve settled into using TickTick as my habit tracker and to-do list. I like the layout, appearance options, and simplicity of it.
I also spent a ton of time setting up Notion, which I once said “was too much.” But once you take the time to set up your workspace in a way that actually helps you be more productive, it’s an invaluable tool for managing multiple projects. Notion has my calendar, journal, notes, submissions list, monthly budget, and shopping list for my new apartment. Having everything in one clutter-free space helps me manage everything with ease.
Whichever route you go — physical planner or apps — the most important thing is that you actually use whatever you decide on. A planner might have high-quality paper and a pretty cover, but if you don’t use it, it’s worthless.

2. Apps to handle the business stuff for you
This probably won’t come as a surprise, but I’m horrible at “business.” Invoices, contracts, expenses, taxes (oh God, taxes) — I’m absolutely clueless with most things financially. I used to refer to my bank account as “Schrödinger’s Checking Account:” If you never check it, you can either have a lot of money left or none.
I can’t express how fortunate we are to live in a time when we can delegate these tasks to an app.
When I discovered Bonsai, it felt like a winged angel had come down from on high to present me a gift. Bonsai is a freelance product suite that automatically handles contracts, invoices, proposals, and taxes for you. You just fill in a few key pieces of information, and you’re good to go. This has become especially important as I’ve had to invoice clients, because, well… I don’t know how to do that. I could learn, yeah, or I could just draft up an invoice in Bonsai and send it out.
I’ve also set up Albert to manage my bank account. It’s like I have a little AI accountant handling all my expenses. I can even text him when I need to know if my impulse buy of five new books I’ll read in ten years is going to bankrupt me.
I’m sure there are other options out there — Mint, Brigit, Cleo — that will work better for you. Or if you’re good about that stuff already, more power to you. But for anyone like me who just wants to do the work and not think about the other stuff, automating the process has made my life easier.

3. Something to keep you focused
Maintaining focus and staying on task is the single most important thing a freelancer can do, and it’s also the hardest. When you’re in a cubicle from 9 to 5 or standing behind a bar, you have other people telling you what to do. They lay your tasks out for you.
When you’re working for yourself, though, that’s not the case. You’ll likely be handling multiple projects with different due dates, priorities, and clients. This is why your planner will be so useful.
But setting up a system to help lessen your likelihood of getting distracted is also going to be a major benefit to you. There are a million things constantly vying for our attention whether it’s a pet, family member, significant other or simply a notification on your phone. When you’re hyperfocused on a task — or for non-sufferers of ADHD, in a flow state — anything that pulls you out of it is going to be a detriment to your productivity.
As with everything else, it’s about establishing a system that works for you. I usually have a Lo-Fi music playlist going on Spotify to achieve a good work/vibe balance, but you might find that classical music or ambient sounds help you stay focused. In fact, studies have shown that a certain level of ambient noise can trigger our minds to work more creatively.
Another focus-boosting technique might be an alternate form of the Pomodoro Technique. While working deeply for 25 minutes and then resting for 5 might not be the ideal time for everyone, the technique helps achieve two things:
By working for smaller increments of time, tasks become much more manageable. If you know something will take several hours to complete, dividing it into smaller chunks of work time helps the work to feel less daunting.
It reminds us to take a break. It’s easy, especially for someone who hyperfocuses, to work so long and hard that you neglect your needs. Taking even five minutes to step outside, grab some water, or stretch will help to avoid burnout.

I lost mine within a week.
For whatever reason, my brain could never plan for the future in a logical way. I just… knew when assignments were due, and that was that. But when you’re trying to run a business and earn a living for yourself, this isn’t an effective strategy. I’m also a horrible procrastinator, so my natural tendencies to put off work until the last minute and lose track of important dates is not ideal.
“In my experience,” my therapist said, “women tend to use small pocket planners since they usually carry a bag. Guys usually have an easier time just using an app. I’d say just start with the calendar and reminders on your phone first.”
Well, what do you know? I thought. I’m going to do my research, get a physical planner and use the shit out of it.
I ended up purchasing a Panda Planner as it seemed to have a good mix of the things I wanted: monthly, weekly, and daily views, a gratitude section, and project management.
And I didn’t use it. I tried to, I really did. I woke up each morning, wrote out, hour by hour, what I was going to do, but the second I went off schedule, the entire system derailed. There was no way, because I wrote in pen, for me to rearrange my schedule. I also hate my handwriting.
I caved. I admitted defeat. Turns out, my therapist was right (shocker); an app was the more effective strategy for me. Of course, then you encounter the issue of which app you’re going to use. Personally, I’ve settled into using TickTick as my habit tracker and to-do list. I like the layout, appearance options, and simplicity of it.
I can’t express how fortunate we are to live in a time when we can delegate these tasks to an app.
When I discovered Bonsai, it felt like a winged angel had come down from on high to present me a gift. Bonsai is a freelance product suite that automatically handles contracts, invoices, proposals, and taxes for you. You just fill in a few key pieces of information, and you’re good to go. This has become especially important as I’ve had to invoice clients, because, well… I don’t know how to do that. I could learn, yeah, or I could just draft up an invoice in Bonsai and send it out.
But setting up a system to help lessen your likelihood of getting distracted is also going to be a major benefit to you. There are a million things constantly vying for our attention whether it’s a pet, family member, significant other or simply a notification on your phone. When you’re hyperfocused on a task — or for non-sufferers of ADHD, in a flow state — anything that pulls you out of it is going to be a detriment to your productivity.
As with everything else, it’s about establishing a system that works for you. I usually have a Lo-Fi music playlist going on Spotify to achieve a good work/vibe balance, but you might find that classical music or ambient sounds help you stay focused. In fact, studies have shown that a certain level of ambient noise can trigger our minds to work more creatively.
Another focus-boosting technique might be an alternate form of the Pomodoro Technique. While working deeply for 25 minutes and then resting for 5 might not be the ideal time for everyone, the technique helps achieve two things:
By working for smaller increments of time, tasks become much more manageable. If you know something will take several hours to complete, dividing it into smaller chunks of work time helps the work to feel less daunting.

4. Something to help you de-stress and relax
By the same token, there are plenty of apps and resources to help lessen the likelihood of burnout and anxiety. Trust me, I know that while being rewarding, freelancing can also be terrifying and stressful.
When you’re alternating between a blank document and your bank account wondering how you can put words down on the first to lead to a bigger number in the second, it might be a good time to step away and de-stress.
A meditation app like Headspace or Balance (which is currently giving away a free year trial) can offer quick guided lessons to help you re-center and calm down. If meditation isn’t your jam, there are plenty of quick yoga tutorials or stretches you can do.
Or maybe your de-stressor is a guitar you keep nearby to strum out your anxiety on or a book of poetry that calms you. Whatever it is, the thing to remember is that you need to take breaks. We aren’t machines with unlimited energy; we are human beings with flaws and needs and limited cognitive function.
Again, find whatever that thing is for you and take time to do it.

5. Things that make you smile
I live in a shared two-bedroom apartment, so I spend a lot of time in my room at my desk. It’s a very small room too, which means the space can, at times, feel claustrophobic.
I bought six plants, LED lights, color changing lightbulbs, and art prints to decorate my room with. I used to have a hideous plaid comforter, which I got rid of and replaced with a simple red one. My old desk had a glass top that picked up fingerprints like crazy, so I replaced it with a wooden one.
It seems frivolous sometimes, especially to my roommate, but the effect can’t be ignored — being in a space that you find aesthetically pleasing will make you happier and more productive. That’s not to say you should hoard things around your workspace — it is still your workspace, after all — but that you should make space for the things you enjoy.
Buy some candles or an oil diffuser, hang up art pieces you’re fond of, get some cool lights and put a plant on your desk. Unless you hate plants, in which case don’t.
Just because you’re doing work, doesn’t mean it has to be tedious or bland.
I’m sure there are people out there who have never struggled with organization, and to those people I give a resounding middle finger. How dare you not struggle with this! Bastards!
In all honesty, though, I am a little jealous. Some of you just make staying organized look so easy, like it’s second nature while the rest of us pull out all the clothes in our closet looking for that one nice shirt we need for the big event only for it to be a wrinkled mess.
Learning to organize my life has been the single hardest adjustment I’ve had to make coming from restaurant work to full-time freelancing, but we have the incredibly fortunate condition of modernity to aid us now. Hopefully, some of this advice is of use to you.
At the very least, know that if I can do this, so can you.

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Category : business

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