I think it goes without saying that modern life is pretty busy.  Yes there are many factors that play into that, some within our control and some somewhat out of our control, but when it comes right down to it, if you are like me there are many days you get home from work thinking you have tons of time time for your project only to find out that after dinner is made, eaten, and cleaned up it’s nearly time for bed.  So how in the heck are you supposed to find time to work on all those beautiful projects running through your head?

It’s something I struggle with quite a lot.  I’m struggling with it right now in fact.  I’ve got a big project that I’m trying to finish up, two projects to make for Dragon*Con (in 2 MONTHS!!!), a big project I’m already planning on sourcing for January, a full time work schedule, a husband that loves me, two dogs and a cat that want nearly constant pets, and a home that I would be reasonable clean and presentable.  All in all its a recipe for a lot of stuff that needs to be done and not a lot of time to get it done in.

This is one of the big reasons that I advocate planning as far in advance a you can.  Right now it’s about all I can do to work in a few minutes a day or a couple hours a week for my projects.  And that’s OK.  Sometimes that’s all you can do.  If you can plan in advance then hopefully you have more a chance to get more done during the slower times when not as much is pulling on your schedule.  The big key though it always try to keep working forward, even if it’s just a few minutes a day.

That’s what I’m trying to focus on right now.  In fact I think I will try to go put in a few minutes of work on a project right now, before I need to make dinner. 🙂  So what do you do when you have a million other things pulling you in different directions, all asking for a bit of your project time?

I will refrain from singing although my inner Disney Princess is greatly saddened that she has to hold back.

There’s a reason why every article I have ever written on project management (in the SCA and out) includes the advice that you need to pad your timelines because you never know when chaos will strike.  The mid-May deadline on the project that I was working was pushed back.  Although I didn’t know it at the time this was a lucky break because I had a project mishap at the worst possible time (really, these things never happen at times when we can fix them easily) and I got so frustrated I just had to walk away.

Never forget to add in your Just-Step-Away-From-The-Machine time when you are planning your projects.  It will save your sanity.

But while it is all working out for the best in the end it has meant that I’ve needed to rearrange some of my other project timelines and reevaluate my Dragon*Con project list.  A big part of project management is the management of multiple priorities and multiple concurrent timelines.  Yet another reason why it is so important to pad your timelines.  External and internal factors will affect your timelines and changing timelines affect priorities.  You have to be able to manage that and shift your task schedule (or the task schedules you have delegated) in order to accommodate that.

So that’s were I am.  I had to walk away from my project for a bit but now I’m back at it.  I did manage to fix the mishap pretty easily; sometimes all you need is a little distance.  Now I’m reevaluating some timelines and project priorities but in the end All’s Well That Ends Well as The Bard says.

There is pretty much always a lot going on here at Nerd Girl Sewing.  I just finished a freelance article for Your Wardrobe Unlock’d and I’m in the middle of a big secret project right now.  I almost always have at least 3 or 4 balls I am juggling at once: freelancing (web design and writing), one or two projects, and usually some event prep.  Combine that with at least one long term project that’s almost always in the works (like my embroidered Elizabethan jacket), yard & house projects, and the everyday cleaning required not to live in total squalor and there is A LOT for me to keep straight!

I’m a list maker at heart.  It’s how I keep things strait and remember what I need to do.  My preference is to keep paper lists so I can enjoy the satisfaction of scratching though a completed task.  But I started finding myself with 5 or 6 post-it notes scattered around the house and sewing room.  And important projects were falling through the cracks because I would misplace lists or forget to make them because a higher priority project would come up.  I began to worry that pretty soon I would need a list to keep track of my lists!

So I decided to give a To-do list site I had used before another chance: Remember the Milk (RTM).  RTM is a free online service that allows you to make and keep track of to-do lists for numerous tasks and projects.  There is an option to upgrade to their pro service for an annual fee but it’s not needed to use RTM.

I had used RTM before but at the time I could only use the to-do list organizer online because there was not an app for my phone at the time.  Now though, there is an app for my phone which really makes this tool much more useful and user friendly.  I was able to transfer all my to-do lists into RTM and I was also able to set up lists for each of my projects and assign deadlines to each of the tasks of my highest priority projects.  This helps to keep me on track and on time and it also helps to keep things from falling through the cracks because I can see the lists for all the projects I have pending.

I also made lists for the house and yard projects and a list for chores.  Each task can be assigned a deadline, whether or not it repeats, and if it repeats how often it repeats.  So things like changing the air filters won’t get forgotten because I think I changed them a month ago when really it was 4 months ago.  When I mark a repeatable task as completed it is rescheduled to be done based on how often it repeats.

After using RTM for several weeks I did decided to get a pro account so I could sync my phone and online account as often as I want.  The free account does allow syncing but only once a day and that just wasn’t often enough for the way I used it.

So there you have it.  This is how I’ve been keeping tack of my tasks for the past month and I love it.

*This article is not an ad or sponsored in any way by Remember the Milk.  Remember the Milk is a free service I’ve been using for the past month or so.  I have found it to be really helpful for me in tracking my tasks and projects and I wanted to share my experiences with my readers.