Monthly Archives: September 2013

Labor Day organizing

Labor Day was an organization-fest.

First I started to organize my photos and letters. I love my Groovebook app to death (to find who I get 100 of my iPhone photos delivered to my door for $2.99 each month here; if you want to try it for free, go here and use the code ‘Frazier-Wood1’ [DISCLAIMER: If enough people do it, I get a free Starbucks]). Anyway, love my Groovebook, but having 100 photos a month was getting unwieldy. So I made this neat little photo display for Sam.

photo 1

Although, it amazed me how long I spent taking something new (ish – it was from Goodwill) and making it look ‘distressed’.

Chuffed with how it turned out, I also made this little display for my letters / postcards:

photo 2

Excellent crafting all around.


Then I turned to a bigger task: organizing my work projects.

I realized that I have been drifting at work for a long time. Too long. The reasons why are the subject of one of my next posts, but while slowly hashing out the problems of my career, I decided to at least fix my productivity.

On that front, I have a major lead / analytic role in 17 projects, many without a specific deadline, or many with a deadline way off in the future. It was hard to really sit down and complete everything. I felt overwhelmed, and more often than not, would spend 10 minutes on one project… get distracted by another… get stuck on another so bounce into a new one… and so on. I am feeling the need to see some measurable progress, and some finishing up. But how with 17-ish projects?

(1) First I made a huge list of my projects. On craft paper in Crayola (hey, I am trying to show my son how to draw).

Project list

Project list

(2) Then, in a move my husband called the ‘least helpful organizational step ever’ I tried to mindmap them… more on than later. It was helpful in the ‘general stagnation of my career’ front, but for now, take that as an entirely useless step.

Mindmap. Well... it's all clear now

Mindmap. Well… it’s all clear now

(3) So then I took each of my projects, and made a little page for them in my notebook. I listed everything that needs to be done with each project, how long it would take, and when it had to be done by (if there was such a date). I am hoping to update each page as I go along.

photo 4

I also added a page for other big ‘to do’ items, which were not part of a project e.g. I am giving a talk next week and have not even begun to write it.

(4) Then, I took all the tasks from my diferent project lists and made them into a list:

photo 2

(5) And I cut up all the pieces of my to-do list:

photo 1

(6) And prioritized them on the floor. 5 & 6 were kind of crazy playschool type steps, I know, but by having them on the floor, I was able to better move things around based on priority. I had too many things to think of them all at once otherwise.


(7) I printed out a month’s worth of weekly planners, and blocked out my set appointments and travel:

photo 2

(8) Then, in pencil (so I could be somewhat flexible) I blocked out time for each task:

photo 3

(9) Et voila: a month’s plan for productivity, which allowed me to make week-by-week goal lists:

photo 5

I am hoping that by the end of September I will be able to see clear, quantifiable benchmarks of progress in all of my projects.

Next, I will be creating mid-term and long-term plans. But for now, maybe this will help you if you are struggling with projects. And it is not a very high-tech solution, but I seem to work better with pen and paper than with gizmos (sadly, as I do not have an excuse to buy any). And my craft paper and crayola experiment worked; Sam drew his first crayon picture.


Clearly the next Lucien Freud.