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Cathy Hirko: Sometimes, I feel like this cat

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How do to you keep it together? Hopefully better than this furry friend.

In September I was having one of those non-productive days (maybe longer than a day) where I felt more like this cat than I did a person responsible for managing a newsroom. We all get off task sometimes and we all could use a little advice on how to cut out the clutter. 

When that happens I usually reach out to our CPBJ Women in Leadership Facebook group for some inspiration. These ladies never disappoint with their advice: practical, innovative and yes, smart-alecky (if that's a word, because I need to keep it clean).

I jotted down some of their feedback below. 

So, here’s the latest chapter in this round of "I need help. You need to help me."

My Facebook post:

Crowd-sourcing time. What are your best ways to organize your time and your schedule?

Anything goes. You have a favorite app, a favorite routine, a favorite drink? I want all the input.

Please, help a lady out. There have been days that I feel more like this cat than a successful businesswoman.

Your answers:

Bree Monteith: I use an App called Cozi that I have synced for work and to my husband's calendar and it is great.

Hirko: Never heard of Cozi, but from my research it looks like a combination calendar grouping/grocery list/to-do list. Cool feature is the "agenda today" function. I usually do quick agenda-search for the week with my own calendar and then double-check each day. So, this is helpful.

Jennifer Vogelsong: Evernote app and paper monthly/weekly/daily planner

Hirko: How does Evernote work?

Vogelsong: I keep all the files and records and documents I need there. It's like a virtual filing cabinet that I can access from all of my devices. I can view, edit, share information and I think there are even more advanced features I haven't figured out yet. I use it for my Pampered Chef business and as my notebook for my freelance work. You organize notes into "notebooks," which are like files in file folders inside hanging folders. You can also add tags, which makes it easy to search and find something even if you forget where you put it. I also use it for my personal life. I keep my grocery/shopping list in there, to-do list, trip info for when I travel, kids school stuff, etc.

Deslynn Ropp: We use Google Calendar for our personal schedule at home. Ernie, both kids and I all share the app and can view the same calendar. I have activities color-coded by person and a reminder set up a 1/2 hour before the events. The kids don’t typically use it, but hubby and I do. My co-worker and I also have thrown around the idea of getting Echo Dots or something of the sort for our office. We could set up reminders, timers, lists etc to help keep us on track.

Jen Schwarz: I schedule time in my Outlook calendar to work on certain projects and add reminders in advance of when certain deadlines are coming up.

Kate Harmon: I have lots of Google Calendars. Matthew and I have a joint calendar for stuff we do together and I can see his, too, when making plans. We also use Facebook chats for each event we run, so we can keep all info and materials in the same, organized space.

Jan Runman: I use the calendar on my phone and a paper back-up. It seems like a waste of time doing the paper calendar, but I have lost the calendar on my phone and that's not fun!

Hirko: I do love me some Google Calendar. I stopped using paper calendars in 2018 because I had too much information spread everywhere.

As with most posts, we evolved in the discussion

Then came the suggestions of shutting down, taking a break, kind of a re-charge way of thinking. 

Amanda Lavis: Turn off your email notifications on your computer to avoid getting off task with non-urgent matters. If your team needs to reach you, just let them know to call you.

Hirko: I have done this. Extremely helpful when you need to focus on one task. The emails, texts will have to wait.

Michelle Denise Norton: When things get really out of hand for me I go back to basics, make tea, take out paper/my journal in a space free of clutter, and hand-write a to-do list, taking the time to review each item's urgency before I put it on. I also include things like 'rest,' 'do chi gung,' 'have a movie date,' or other fun/healthy/essential activities if stress over work is impacting everything else. Then I don't add anything else until that's done.

Lutricia Eberly: About 5 years ago I realized I needed to do some maturing with priorities and productivity so I started studying it. I realized that we can train our brains, create productive habits, just the same as we learn/practice yoga positions or playing a musical instrument. Laura Vanderkamp’s books have been helpful for me in figuring out how to be productive and prioritize.

Kim Lee Kenawell-Hoffecker: I use Cozi as a family calendar and I include events for my parents on it so we have one master schedule. I also invested in hiring a personal chef service that comes to my house. She helps me to keep my meals healthy and gives me back quality family time. I can spend time around the dinner table focusing on family. I also share the cost of the service with some women who I work with to make it even more affordable.

Hirko: I love how Kim’s group figured out to help one another - with food preparation. How many times have I gone home after a long day of work and wanted to make dinner? None and zero.  

Kathy Anderson-Martin: I insist on Pilot G-2 .07 mechanical pencils and a clean legal pad. Without those pencils, I am unable to do anything from a grocery list to an event plan.

Shelly Matter: I love organizing so everything has a place and that’s where it stays when not in use. Makes cleaning a breeze. I utilize Grove Collaborative, Amazon Prime, and other online purchasing resources to save time and money.

And some responses make me realize these are my people.

Claudia Moreno Williams: I pretty much look like that cat. But my favorite drink is an espresso martini!

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Cathy Hirko

Cathy Hirko

Cathy Hirko is managing editor, news, for the Central Penn Business Journal. Email her at chirko@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @CathyHirko.

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