How I Stay Organized | Spring 2018

Since the beginning of the year, for the most part of the week, I’m locked at home (or in my University library) all day writing my thesis, my routine completely changed since last year. I don’t have classes nor exams to study for anymore (*jumps up and down for the excitement*) and I have a very quiet social life (/introvert), so my way to stay organized changed too since last Fall. That’s why I thought it would be nice to share how I basically simplified everything.

First of all, I got rid of many unused Trello boards. I still use it to collaborate with the Middle Earth News team and I have only another board that I use for productivity stuff which is the one where I plan my articles for Page Flutter. (I had to blur most of my cards for privacy reasons, sorry.)

I still have a couple of boards I use for personal stuff like keeping track of the movies I want to watch, the Yoga videos I want to try and the books I read, but they are just for fun boards and I don’t constantly check them. Maybe I’ll write a blog post about them in the future. 🙂

Another thing that changed lately is the way I store my files in the cloud. Previously, I just kept everything on Google Drive organized by folders, but since I’m not paying for it, I was running out of space because of all the stuff I have to temporarily store for my thesis research, so I decided to move all my personal stuff (old documents, receipts, printables, ebooks, etc.) on Dropbox since I already had an account created back in 2011 (before Drive was actually a thing). Also, inviting other people over the years allowed me to gain 7GB of storage there, which is more than enough for my personal stuff. On Google Drive, I just have two main folders one for University and one for blogging stuff, here is how the latter is organized.

I have a folder for every blog/website I write for and inside each folder I have a Google Doc for every article I write, this way I have a backup of my work if something goes wrong with the websites, it also works very well if I have to share the article with someone else before publishing it. I was using the same system for my blog, but since I write more here than everywhere else, I ended up having too many documents. So, for 2018, I decided to create a single document with all my blog posts and it works incredibly better.

The structure of the doc is very simple. I write the name of the month as Header 1 and the title of the posts as Header 2, this way they build a clickable index on the left and I can easily jump from a post to another, it also helps me to see how much I post every month on my blog. When an idea for a blog post comes to mind, I usually note it in Google Keep and, once at my laptop, I transfer it on this Doc.

For deadlines, appointments, and reminders I still use Google Calendar. I also purchased a paper planner for 2018 but since my life is totally boring right now and I have less and less stuff to do aside from staying all day at my laptop writing, I started using my Tolkien Calendar to annotate the important stuff. This way, I have a paper calendar on my wall always in front of me and a digital “backup” on Google Calendar that I also use when I’m away from my desk.

I have a similar set up for my notes too: Google Keep for reminders, lists and random notes on the go and my Harry Potter Moleskine as my everything notebook. It used to be my bullet journal, but I basically abandoned the task/appointment stuff and it’s just all collections so I call it “everything notebook” now. 🙂 Here I like to draft blog posts, plan the articles I have to write and things like that.

Bonus Tip

Finally, I’d like to share a tip that helped me a lot to avoid procrastination and getting distracted while I should work at my laptop (i.e. all day). Many people use apps that block certain websites from their browser (like Facebook) or even some software, but I don’t like that (I’m always afraid of messing up), my system is definitely simpler. I have two user accounts on my laptop, one is called Alice and one University. The first one is the admin account and I use it for everything, from blogging stuff to play LOTRO and relax, the other one if solely for working on my thesis. Having all my files on the cloud helps a lot so I can’t still access them from my other account, but also from my tablet or my phone. In this secondary account I use for University, I don’t have all my browser bookmarks nor the distraction of all the other stuff like personal files on Dropbox or LOTRO or Spotify. For a while, I toyed with the idea of using my laptop only for work and do all my blog and recreational stuff on my tablet with the help of my Bluetooth keyboard, but I like to create graphics and explore and read and things like that and doing it on a tablet was a nightmare for me! So having two different accounts is what works for me.

I hope you enjoyed this little update on my productivity set up. Feel free to let me know how you stay organized in the comments below! 🙂

How I Manage My Multiple Interests and Projects with Trello

After sharing (or should I say “confessing”? 🙂 ) my many interests and current projects a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been asked: “Have you done a post on juggling multiple interests? I’d love to read that for tips and advice!”, so I thought it might be easier to write a whole blog post about it instead of just a super long comment.

My secret weapon is, once again, Trello. I have a bunch of boards to manage my several projects and interests there, and I even shared my books and music ones few months ago. Here are the ones I use the most when it comes to blogging.

Not pictured above, I also have a board called University where I keep track of my exams, conferences, and seminars, inspired by Clarissa’s video.

I already shared my Editorial Calendar on my guest post for Francesco’s blog a couple of weeks ago, so you can take a look there. Travelling Geek Show and Middle-earth News are shared with my team members and we use them to organize our work for the websites, we basically have lists for each category of the website and cards for each task.

The Big Picture board is still a work in progress, but it’s like my big plan, it’s where I keep a list of all my current projects and I add info like links and schedules inside each card. Keeping them all together, makes me realize how much I have on my plate and what I should/would like to drop.

Then I have my Dashboard, this board stays open all the time, here I store all the info about courses and classes I purchased or I subscribed for free in the past few years. I have a list I use to bookmark links and tools I use, it’s easier having them all there instead of saved in Chrome, it had become too cluttered lately so I moved some stuff on Trello and now I can have a bird’s eye view of my whole internet life. I also keep some templates for my blog posts and things like that there.

The best part? Trello is free and you can use the app on your smartphone or tablet too. I used to store many of these things in Evernote, but it wasn’t easy to find them for me (no matter how organized my notebooks were and how many tags I used), with Trello I have everything in front of me!

An additional resource that inspired me a lot to finally move everything to Trello is this free video training by Dana Malstaff of Boss Mom.

I hope this post inspired you to give Trello a try and to not give up to your side-projects. 🙂

How I Organize My Books and Music with Trello

Photo credit: R Artspace

I love Trello, because it helps me managing so many different aspects of my life and keep things separated at the same time. I use it to manage my secondary blog, Travelling Geek Show, with my two friends Lily and Maria, it helped me to plan my trip to London last Fall, and I’m currently using it to organize my music and my readings.

Let’s talk about books first. I totally have to thank my friend Maria for this idea, she sent me a screenshot of her Trello reading journal and I immediately created one for myself, because I already knew it was genious.

I created 6 lists inside a board named Reading Journal:

  1. Want to Read – for the books I see around the internet and I’d like to read one day.
  2. TBR (Already Owned) – self-explanatory.
  3. Currently Reading
  4. Read
  5. Perpetual Readings – there are some books I’ll continue reading for ages, because they are huge, like Letters from JRR Tolkien and the complete volume of Sherlock Holmes, and having them constantly into my Reading list would make me feel too bad and anxious.
  6. Reading Challenges – I use this list as a key, since I color coded all the reading challenges for 2016 using labels, so I can easily see my book status.
I still use Goodreads, but I wish there was a way to mark my books as rereadings instead of just having to add different editions to my bookshelf to make them count, also I like to have a more private space to record my readings. I know many people uses spreadsheets, because of stats and stuff, but I don’t actually care about that, so Trello perfectly works for me.

Concerning my music, it’s a bit different. Last year my laptop got a virus and I had to reinstall Windows from scratch losing all my music files, because I didn’t backup them, since my external HD was full. I still had all my songs on my iPhone, but the folder on my laptop was gone, so I couldn’t syncronize it through iTunes.

Long story short, I started listing all the songs I wanted to download again on Trello and I’m still in the process of building my music library again. I use this board the traditional way, moving the cards from a list to another according to what I’m doing. Again, I could just create a spreadsheet, but I definitely love how Trello works!

I created a whole list just for “Middle-earth music” since I have some favorite soundtracks and I prefer to not have the entire album on my phone, so I can go on random mode and always listen to my favorite music.

Have you ever tried out Trello? Do you like it? If not, I’d recommend to give it a try. It’s free!

This isn’t a sponsored post, I’m just super excited about Trello.

How I Planned my Trip to London with Trello

If you follow me on Instagram you’d probably noticed that I’ve been in London last week. I spent the happiest 6 days there and I ended my vacation with a special treat, celebrating my 25th birthday at Platform 9 3/4! You can read the whole story here.

I’m going to share my photos very soon, but first of all I wanted to share how I planned my trip with Trello, because I found it extremely useful and easy to use even if I was abroad and I just had my old iPhone 4 with me!

First of all, if you’re not familiar with Trello, it’s basically a collaboration tool to organize projects, like Basecamp or Asana based on a drag and drop feature instead of check lists.

To start planning my vacation, I created a new Board and I called it London Vacation, I chose to personalize the background with a cool shade of red, to keep the british mood. 🙂 Then I created four Lists: To Do, Done, Info and Eat/Drink/Visit/Buy.

To Do was the list of the things I had to get done before leaving, so I created a new Card for each task and then I moved it to Done once completed, without archiving it, because I wanted to be able to easily access those info later during my travel, if needed. I created cards for my flights information, since the only time I took a plane was like six years ago and I didn’t remember all the rules and restrictions, plus I was travelling with two different companies this time, Ryanair and British Airways, so there were different conditions to keep in mind.

Trello allows you to insert check lists inside your cards, so I created a couple of them inside My Luggage to list all the things I had to pack.

Info is where I collected all the vital information I had to keep always with me, like the address of my Hotel (it was a Premiere Inn one, highly recommended), all the trains I had to take to reach it from the airport and vice versa, the location of Tourist Information Centres and so on.

Finally, I stored all the things I wanted to do once in London in the list named Eat/Drink/Visit/Buy. I gathered a couple of advice from my friends Evie and Maria, places to have a nice Tea Time and I also created a card with all the locations, opening hours and ticket costs of the museums and shops I wanted to visit.

I should confess that I copied the most important info in my Moleskine (I used the City Notebook one with a map of London and the Tube), because you never know, but I’m happy to say that Trello worked perfectly!

Now I just have to archive my London Vacation board and finish editing the photos. 🙂

How I Use Trello, Asana and Evernote to Organize my Blog

My blog celebrated one year in August and during the last few months I realized that having an editorial calendar is vital to avoid burnout and feeling stuck, so I started gathering advice and I tried EVERYTHING, like every single (free) tool on the market, including printable planners. But nothing actually helped me to stay organized.

I ended up finding my own workflow using 3 different tools at the same time: Trello, Asana, and Evernote. It would look a bit crazy at first, why not using just one? Well, I’m a procrastinator by nature and I need a constant guidance through my day to not fall in the un-productivity trap. So here are my 3 steps to organize my blog.

Disclaimer: I’m not going to explain how exactly these tools work, but I’m going to link some useful articles that helped me to understand the several features they have.

Step 1: Trello

Trello is a wonderful visual tool that allows you to manage multiple projects alone or with other team mates. Each project has its own Trello Board. I share one with my two geeky friends to organize our blog Travelling Geek Show, I have a board for personal stuff (like those Amazon wishlists you have to reach super quickly), finally I have a board called Editorial Calendar, that I use to manage The Geeky Burrow (I used it to plan also my Middle-earth News and TGS posts, but it was a bit messy, so I step back to only my blog).

As you can see, I have five stacks of lists (or cards, to use the proper language): when I brainstorm an idea, I create a card under Post Ideas and then I move it in an other stack when I assign it a date, for example. The colored lines you see are labels, they help you to color code your stuff. I use the red one for scheduled things, yellow for drafts and green for published ones. Trello allows you also to activate some free power-ups, like the calendar view, which is super useful and helps you to see your month at a glance.

Once the month ends, I usually archive all my cards to clean up my stack, starting another month.

Favorite posts about Trello:

Step 2: Asana

Once I planned all my blog posts for the month, I have to put them somewhere, using some checklists to actually get things done. Asana is the answer. Born as workplace for teams and groups of people, it’s also perfect for working solo, managing several different projects both for work and your personal life. (Kristin uses Wunderlist the same way, more or less, I prefer Asana.)

Using your company email (instead of Gmail) allows you to create an Organization which is the highest level in Asana hierarchy. In my main Organization, I created different teams (The Geeky Burrow, Other Blogs, Templates) to help myself diving my projects and creating color-coded checklists of things to do, assigning also due dates.

It might look a bit confusing the first time, but having a page with all the tasks about all the various sites I manage online is perfect to me. When I turn on my laptop, I immediately open Asana to have the big picture of my day, week and month. This way I know what exactly has to be done that day.

Favorite posts about Asana:

Step 3: Evernote

I use Evernote for a ton of things, both personal and blog-related. Concerning the last one, it’s where I store all my drafts, notes, inspiration and links of interesting readings for my Happy Monday series (thanks to the Web Clipper browser extension).

I have different notebooks for my blog stuff and a personal stack of notebooks, like Archive and Bookmarks, where I keep the things I like to refer back in the future. When I have to write a blog post, I open my Blog | Drafts and Ideas notebook, I create a new note with the blog title and I write the whole post there first, then I export the text to my blog and I add my images and links.

Favorite posts about Evernote:

Here it is! My 3-steps organization system to manage my blog. It might look like a ton of work, but believe me, when you have to study several hours a day, attending University classes and preparing for exams, writing everything in decluttered lists and notebooks is the best way to stay organized.

Do you use any tool to organize your blog/biz? I’d love to read them, so feel free to leave a comment below!