It’s becoming clear that I almost did. Over a month ago my immune system buckled to a cold, and now this. For the past two weeks a meltdown occurred in the form of bacterial pink eye. I woke to swollen slits for eyes, appearing more Asian than I thought possible. With full knowledge of what a plastic surgery disaster must cart around on a daily basis, I’d rather not return to that state.
In some respects, I regret starting this site so early. However, the people I’ve met, potential friends I’ve connected with, has been worth it. It’s just overwhelming at times. The title of this post speaks volumes to that.
If you’re in the same boat as me, working towards new doors opening, but trying to shut old ones, how the heck do tasks get done without succumbing to a heart attack or life-threatening virus?
Some tips for the constantly exhausted, over stimulated round-the-world planner.
1. Get a whiteboard. In order to stop little pieces of paper from piling up on your desk, because honestly piles of notes is exhausting to sift through, buy yourself a stick on whiteboard at the dollar store. Mine is below. I write big action items on it – trip planning, blog related, gear purchases, and the like. Having those ‘to do’ items in a central area makes it seem less daunting. Plus, a whiteboard is more environmentally friendly than paper. Goodbye paper cuts!
2. Put websites into a single source. An Internet marketer friend recommended I buy a cheap address book to list all the sites I use alphabetically with username and passowords. Any techie will warn you to never write down passwords should thieves gain access. Thus, I write my passwords in code. Why is this useful? Travel bloggers are members of hundreds of sites, it’s difficult to remember what you signed up with last week, let alone today. Another great idea is Access My ID, a secure website to store vital documents like passports, credit cards and ATM card info. It’s easy to upload via scan or digital photos. You can store up to twenty important username/passwords. A yearly price is only $19.95, which is worth the peace of mind.
3. Inbox zero. A snazzy term for a very simple concept. I get easily distracted and stressed when emails stack up. It’s gotten worse trying to juggle work email and travel website messages. @foodgoesinmouth (Caleb T.) turned me onto Merlin Mann, a dude devoted to creative production, by showing others how to manage time better. Check out the presentation he did at Google in 2007 about the concept of inbox zero. Instead of allowing emails to sit unattended, it’s important to make quick decisions about each message. Why? You will screw up. By not responding when asked, not taking action, or procrastinating. I’ve easily fulfilled all three. I literally started using Mann’s methods 3 days ago, and am less stressed, more proactive about my inbox. Mann proposes 5 steps.
- Delete or Archive. Anything that has no relevance, delete it. Any message to be viewed weeks later, archive it. Create a transparent folder called “archive.” Don’t build a complicated filing tree, that just adds more to a saturated mailbox.
- Delegate. If action is required by another party, immediately forward it to that department or person, and set up a reminder to follow up. Keep in mind, this might not be viable when running your own travel site. If you have a spouse or well trained animal in the house, use them.
- Respond. Treat responses like an SMS text message. Keep it to fives sentences or less. Again, @foodgoesinmouth lead me to Sentenc.es. Marketed as a low-fi solution to email overload, Mike Davidson’s website accurately gives an example of a long-winded email response. Ack, it was like reading myself. If you respond quickly and concisely, the message is swept off, done. At times, a long response is called for. The other day I was emailing my website designers and had to explain my vision, that takes more than five sentences. Always ensure short responses are nicely worded so you don’t come off as a snarky, dismissive jerk.
- Defer. Put any messages to be dealt with later into a folder called “DEFER, ACTION LATER”. Bloggers I subscribe to or new Twitter followers land here. I’m attempting to clean out this folder at the end of each day. So far, so good.
- Do. This is not related to responding to an email. This means capturing the message and actually doing an action. Whether that means conferencing, shifting documents in folders, or leaving the computer to do a task.
- Spam. I’m adding a 6th step. Always check your spam folder on a weekly basis. I missed an important message because it landed there without notice.
4. Relinquish control. My mission was to save a few bucks by implementing a site design by myself. I lack the time or energy to study CSS or HTML intimately, so I found myself stuck. Eventually I had to give control to experts, people who can realize my ideas for me. Sometimes it’s smarter to seek others who can save you hours of time.
5. Don’t post everyday and seek guest bloggers. Here’s my dilemma, since opening that creative can of worms, I can’t stop writing. I dream writing. I want to hog the limelight, but that could be dangerous – burning me out before I even leave Canada. Alas, I can’t be everywoman, so I hope to post a minimum 2 days a week and sheepishly ask some amazing writers to contribute to Nomadic Chick. Watch out, you might be asked.
6. Automate some tasks. Twitter has become a special friend, one that allows me access to some talented, engaging personalities. The negative side? It’s a time suck. Thanks to @monica530 of A Pair of Panties and Boxers for introducing me to Twuffer. Twuffer can post-date tweets. Just sign in with your Twitter username/password – from there it’s easy to configure. I typically use it for #traveltuesday or #followfriday. This frees up time to interface with my tweeps live, instead of worrying about repetitive tasks. If you know of other automated programs, please contribute in the comments.
7. Nourish yourself and sleep. Two big ones I was ignoring. Your blog stats won’t dive drastically if you leave the computer for an hour. My biggest crime was forgetting to drink water, a nutritional component in my regular routine. Yeah, it’s not a good plan to run your immune system till it grinds metal. Keeping healthy will benefit your upcoming travels.
8. Become a zen task master. Leo Babauta is responsible for a nifty website called Zen Habits. Babauta offers 10 practical solutions to your task nightmare aptly coined Zen To Done. He smartly splits goals into two groups, MIT goals and Big Rocks for the week.
MIT (Most Important Tasks) - 3 important tasks that must be done today. Examples could be calling the printer for your business cards, making a doctor’s appointment, or contacting a site to pitch an article. Psychologically it’s easier to handle 3 tasks per day than 50 at once. And imagine those 3 tasks furthering your larger goals.
Big Rocks for the week - Entails the major items you want to focus on for the week. Potential goals might be redesigning your site, implementing a healthier diet, or spending quality time with friends or family. Always start the week with your goals in mind and re-check that you’re on track.
You can purchases his ebook or try out Leo’s methods for two or three weeks. Give me feedback on your experiment, I’d love to hear the results.
43 Folders. This site assists those looking to optimize creativity – sustain your own personal renaissance, if you will. Created by Merlin Mann in 2004.
Lifehacker. Downloads and tips for getting stuff done.
LifeRemix. A merry troupe of bloggers showcased in one place to enrich your life. Scroll through sites for a list of bloggers or tap the blog for regular posts. LifeRemix is less technical than Lifehacker, but just as useful. Example: 8 Tools That Ensure You’ll Never Lose An Idea or 10 Simple Ways to Do Only Three Things Today.
Caleb T. started a cool website named 100 Days of Less. He plans to ditch material goods in you guessed it, 100 days. A stupendous idea! Hi, to Caleb’s mom. She posted a comment here once. :)