How To Stay Organized + Productive Amidst Chaos.


5 minute read

This is the summer of transitions for lots of people around me. Babies are incubating in the tear-drop wombs of friends. Parents have gotten remarried, sold houses, decided to move far far away. I’m becoming more and more aware of the deep fragility of life—sometimes it feels like the world is being held together by a wildflower crown.

Also, I’ve been effectively nomadic for a month since I walked into my dreamy little lakeside bungalow in the Hudson Valley and discovered….a serious mold problem. 

While my dream rental is being fixed, my sig-nif and I have been bouncing to friends and family’s pads like a pair of ping-pong balls wielded by 12-year-old Korean champions. Which has been unbelievably relaxing. Hahaha. No.

So, it’s a bit past the middle of the year, and had I not started 2016 without an in-depth plan that was framed by who I wanted to be in my life rather than what I wanted to do, I believe I’d be having way more of a conniption fit at the moment (but believe, there’s definitely been some ‘nniption).

Why is the WHO as important as the WHAT? Because while “doing stuff” is incredibly important for entrepreneurs and creatives…it’s also about the moments before you die. Believe me, I LOVE getting big things done as much as the next kid, but… in my last moments of life, would I be happy having accomplished everything…but being an asshole in order to do it? If you don’t concur …maybe you went to wrong blog or something?

I’ll admit it: the burning desire I felt the last 3 months in SE Asia was to be home, in the Northeast. When 9 months of straight travel turned into 10 because of some stupid fungus, I struggled emotionally. I’m exhausted and want a home for a while; I need to stop moving.

But while all the circumstances swirl around me, I remember the intentions and the extremely thought-out plan I had made for 2016. The plan I go back to during intense times, like in June when I was on planes like 15 times and in January when I was hospitalized with dengue fever. Here are some principles and resources from what’s kept my head on straight, my creative work expanded, and my clients consistently happy.

• I worked with Jenny Ditzler’s Your Best Year Yet, which is all about the roles we play in our lives, what we want to achieve, and how to create amazing outcomes without sacrificing either. My main roles for this year were business owner, writer, and “steward of self” which is basically a term that encompasses everything from making sure I get enough exercise, fresh air, and massages. Because if we don’t parent ourselves, nobody else will.

• Through working with YBYY, I created some guiding paradigms and simple centering reminders for the year. Here’s an example of one of my guiding paradigms:

“Money flows abundantly to me, allows me to contribute to the world, and helps me live a wild, generous, unconventional and passionate life.”

And here’s an example of a centering reminder:

“Be Honest & Get Support”

That one is important for me because I tend to try and get everything done on my own. Being honest with myself is about realistically looking at how much I can take on, and what needs to fall by the wayside or be delegated. When I review my centering reminders, it allows me to step back from my own ego and remember that I’m only one person, and that I’m allowed to say no to things that aren’t worth my time.

• One of the most important aspects of YBYY is that it enables you to have a whole new grasp on time management. This video with entrepreneur Marcus Whitney discusses how important it is to chunk out a block of time from your week just to manage the rest of your week — which I find to be incredibly important to keeping my head during times of extensive travel and obligations. Especially when things are out of my control (like the bungalow issue), it’s extremely helpful to be able to create flexibility when life throws curve balls.

• Speaking of planning out your life based on what you want to become (aka, vision), here’s a quick and sobering article from Seth Godin on perspective. 

• Keeping communication clear – including what I will do for others and when – and making sure both sign on the dotted line – has basically been my MO for everything since I was like, 12. This is a guy after my own heart—a father that made his kids sign a contract before they got a dog. When circumstances are nutty, contracts and written agreements provide a stable and safe environment to create for others, even if your personal life is chaotic.

I also love Trello, and use it constantly to organize all my goals and systems.

And to track time, I use Toggl. In short, anytime I am doing anything for my business – from writing copy for clients to answering emails to writing newsletters for my own subscribers, I am tracking my time. This gives me an incredible vantage point from which to see how I spend my time, how it’s paying off, and how to constantly improve.

Here are some things that I’d like to read and try in the future for even more stability during difficult times:
• Batching work for ultimate productivity from Problogger.
• The Konmari Method
• Amping up my creativity by trying Georgia O’ Keefe’s method of dressing

 – via Amanda Sandlin

To embracing the chaos,

Laura V.

P.S. – I’ve quit facebook after 13 years, and it’s been a very interesting time. I’m working on a piece about that, which I’m extremely excited to share with you. In lieu of that, if you found this post useful and you DO use facebook, please share it over there with your friends! Thanks, misfits.