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How To Get Organized At Work & In Life

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy

Photography by Photographed by James Kicinski-McCoy

With everything we do as moms, it’s no surprise that some of us struggle to keep on top of it all. Juggling kids, schedules, appointments, activities, errands, emails, projects, and events can quickly become an overwhelming, giant mess, which can cause anxiety and stress for those who aren’t meticulously organized. Sometimes we just need a little help, and with technology these days, there are so many ways to keep things in check and on track. We’ve found some helpful, easy-to-use programs, apps, services, extensions, and tips that have made our lives easier and we know they will yours, too.

Google Cal: Number one on our list is Google’s free online calendar. Simple and easy to use, it helps keep track of anything and everything from meetings to appointments, birthdays, and even holidays, all in one place with reminder alerts and color-coded organization. Here, you can add others to your calendar so that coworkers, partners, and family members can keep up with your shared schedule, whether it be on the Google Cal app or desktop. The newly added Goals feature lets you add a personal goal, like “work out x times a week” and the calendar will help find free time to do so based on your weekly schedule.

Gmail: Pretty much everyone you know uses Gmail by now, but if not, you may want to consider switching. This free web-based email service provides a clean and simple way to stay on top of important emails with real-time notifications, multiple account sign-ins, archives, labels (basically online organization folders), attachment sending, Google Calendar invites, auto-complete contact names, and allows you to search across your entire inbox. You can even chat with or call a friend through your inbox, or personalize emails with custom scribbles.

Checker Plus for Gmail: It’s annoying to constantly have to open your email to check for replies and new messages. An add-on to Gmail, this extension gives you desktop notifications of new email where you can choose to read, listen to (yes, literally!), delete, or ignore without ever opening your inbox. This tiny Checker Plus button lives on the Chrome toolbar and keeps a count of your unread messages. By clicking the button, a complete mini-Gmail interface pops up, letting you view, respond, archive, or delete mail from other accounts. It also instantly alerts you of new emails by popping up on the top corner of your screen and showing basic details, so you can decide whether to deal with it immediately or later on.

Boomerang: Need to send an email in the morning, but worried you might forget? Boomerang is your new BFF. With this Gmail extension, you can schedule your emails to be sent at specific times, like at the beginning of the work day. This really comes in handy when you’re responding to clients and business partners in different time zones. With this add-on, you can also archive messages, return important emails to the top of your inbox, and schedule follow-up emails, with an option for messages to only go out if you don’t get a response. Pretty cool!

Google Docs: Organization has met it’s match with Google Docs. With this free service, you can create a resume, write a letter, complete an essay, take meeting notes, manage a spreadsheet, and so much more by choosing one of the many pre-made documents or creating your own. It offers styling tools, smart-editing, tons of fonts, and the ability to add links, images, and even drawings to documents. You can access, create, and edit documents on your browser, phone, or tablet, even when there’s no connection! Coworkers can join a document and work along with you within the document, all changes are automatically saved (so no lost work!), and revision history lets you see older versions, sorted by who made the change and when. You can also browse add-ons to make your Google Doc experience that much better.

UnRoll.Me: Everyone knows how annoying it is to have your inbox overloaded by junk mail and newsletters that you don’t even remember signing up for. Not to mention, having to go into each email, find the “opt-out” button and go through the steps to unsubscribe from each email list. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could cancel all the annoying emails with one simple click? Well, unroll.me does just that. It also has a feature that allows you to separate your email subscriptions and then receive a daily email summarizing the entire segment. Yes, please!

Evernote: Whether you’re taking notes at a business meeting, creating a shopping list, or simply jotting down notes and ideas, Evernote should be your new go-to. With this app, you can collect and share personal and professional ideas and information across desktop and mobile platforms. You can even save things you find online into Evernote, which you can later access on your phone, tablet, or computer automatically.

Daily Planner: For those not so technical or who simply prefer to keep it old school and handwrite their schedules down (hey, you’re not alone!), go with a annual planner that will help keep you on track with daily, weekly, and monthly appointments, meetings, birthdays, holidays, and other important events at the palm of your hand. The good thing about using planners is you never have to worry about information not entering correctly or relying on an app to alert you if it malfunctions. These days, they’re super cute and to some, feel more reliable than the e-calendars. Check out the agenda selection over at Ban.do for all styles and sizes, plus fun additions like stickies, to-do lists, and other accessories to keep planning fun!

Reminders: Are you the type of person who tends to forget things? Did you know you have an application built into your iPhone that can remind you to do everything from changing something on a document to making an important call? It’s the perfect application for things that don’t necessarily need to be put into your calendar. It gives you the option to be reminded of something daily, weekly, or monthly, or even remind you by location—for example, when you’re driving past the bank, it can remind you that you need to pick up more checks. You can easily set up Siri and tell her to add a reminder to your list without even having to type it out. We’re obsessed!

Keep things tidy: Whether you work from home or from the office, one of the best ways to stay organized and increase productivity is to keep you desk clean and clutter free. Research shows that those who keep a tidy work space get sh*t done, more so than their dirty-desked counterparts. Keep surfaces clear and invest in some organization tools and desktop accessories that will inevitably keep things organized and in place, so you can focus on work. You’d be surprised just how much more productive you will be!

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