Tackling Overwhelm in 3 Easy Steps

Using Trello to organise, prioritise & stay on track

**Before I get stuck in to sharing my little productivity hack, a quick administrative note! I know that many of you have signed up to specifically receive updates on my progress in developing the clothing brand. As I’ll be writing about a variety of different topics on the blog, some posts will be more relevant to each of you than others. With this in mind, I’ve decided to include a project update at the end of some posts. This is where I will share more details on where I’m at and what I’ve been working on.**

Since I made the decision to undertake this new venture, I’ve been making a really concerted effort to be disciplined about my time. As anyone who has ever worked from home will know, life happens and it’s so easy for other distractions and obligations to get in the way of your productivity. These interruptions aren’t always a bad thing though.

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks. In between working my way through the fashion accelerator course, we took a quick trip abroad and have also had family from Australia staying with us. Last week, I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting Stephanie Woollard, the very inspiring founder of the aid organisation Seven Women. Steph was in Bahrain to accept a sustainable business award and gave several talks including the one I was lucky enough to attend as part of Manama Entrepreneurship Week. Within 2 days, I had joined a group of enthusiastic and like-minded volunteers and we were meeting to discuss the formation of the Bahrain chapter of the organisation. I can’t wait to share more about this inspiring encounter soon.

All of this was completely last minute and unplanned, but I’m so glad I could be part of it. It’s given me a huge injection of positive energy and motivation. It also taught me that being too rigid with your schedule might mean missing out on a great opportunity. You want to be able to make space for these positive interruptions whenever and however they may arise. Whether it’s a work-related event or catching up with a good friend from out-of-town, it’s just a case of working smart and finding strategies you can fall back on to help you stay on track.

To Do List

As I finally sat down at my computer, I was left facing a pretty hefty to-do list. Emails to respond to, articles to write, study to do, events to research, deadlines to meet, birthday presents to buy, social engagements, travel arrangements to make…you know the drill.

There are so many ways to tackle this scenario but I thought I’d share a strategy that helped me feel like I was on top of things again. I used Trello as it’s my go-to task manager but a piece of paper and a pen will deliver the same great results.

1. ORGANISE

The first step is to do a brain dump and drop every task into Trello. For those who aren’t familiar, Trello is a free platform that enables you to create boards and lists to manage and organise projects and tasks. It has loads of clever features but my favourite by far is it’s drag-and-drop functionality. As someone who is constantly reshuffling her schedule, this is an invaluable tool. You can learn more about Trello’s unlimited applications here.

Example Weekly Planner BoardAn example of a simple way to use Trello as a weekly planner. It’s also great for meal planning,  event organisation, holiday planning etc. The drag-and-drop functionality is a dream!

I use it the most as a basic weekly planner like the example here and above. I have a list for each day of the week and a “Done” list for completed items (because who doesn’t love the satisfaction of seeing all the things they’ve achieved?!). I can add and remove items in seconds through the desktop or mobile app (it syncs too) and once everything is written down I can stop wasting valuable brain power trying to remember what I need to get done. I just wake up and look at my pre-prepared list each morning. I definitely recommend giving it a go if you’re someone who relies on a mental to-do list, it’s very liberating! The head space you’ll free up will give you more room for creativity and new ideas.

If the tasks have started to pile up, I recommend just getting them all down before allocating them to a particular day. Create a separate list for each theme or project you have to complete tasks for. For me this was Personal, Project X (yet-to-be-named clothing brand!), Seven Women and so on. I also created a “Quick Wins” list containing all tasks that could be completed in 15 minutes or less.

2. PRIORITISE

Within each list drag and drop to arrange items in order of priority. This is where Trello really shines but if you take the paper and pen route you can use numbers to prioritise your tasks.

3. EXECUTE

Dedicate 1 hour to ticking off as many quick wins as possible and then move on to the items at the top of the other lists in order of priority. At this point, you can also start allocating tasks to certain days. If there are any quick wins left over, spend the first hour of the next day working on those.

If you desperately need to complete a particular task (like I did this week – my tax return!) you may choose to get that done first and then come back to the quick wins once that’s out of the way. The beauty of tackling the quick wins first is that you get an immediate sense of achievement which gives you the motivation to power through the bigger stuff. You’ll quickly start to feel that you’re getting back on top of things.

HOT TIP: Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day and don’t overload your list! I went through a phase of so badly overestimating how much I could get done in a day that I NEVER got to the end of my list. I never got that sense of satisfaction no matter how many tasks I ploughed through. It was so demotivating.

Jump for Joy

To end the day with a feeling of accomplishment is so important. You’ll feel more comfortable switching off knowing that you completed your set tasks, and will be energised and ready to take on tomorrow’s goals. If you’re unsure what’s realistic, your “Done” list will be a great indicator of how many tasks you can work through in one day.

And that’s it. I hope this might help those of you juggling multiple commitments and growing to-do lists. I’d also love to hear of any other strategies that have worked for you – drop me a line!

PROJECT UPDATE

Since my last post I’ve been diligently making my way through the 5 module accelerator program gaining a detailed insight into the pre-production process – from spec sheets and fabric sourcing to pattern and sample making – the manufacturing process, how to approach product costing calculations, plan and launch a crowdfunding campaign and much more. I’ve connected with some wonderful people both inside and outside the industry who have generously offered their help and support and I’ve also been researching potential partners to assist with product development, fabric selection and pattern and sample making. My main focus this week has been to get as many questions answered as possible before the mentorship phase of the course ends. I’ve also been digging deeper into the ins and outs of the organic and fair trade certification processes – which is a complicated topic to say the least – and one I will be writing more about soon. Thanks for reading and for your ongoing support, it means the world to me.

Ciao for now,

Amy x

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