A lot of friends and family tell us they don't know where we find the time to work full time jobs, write this blog, renovate a house, run an online renovation course and interior design business, and make time for life things like seeing family and friends, cleaning, preparing meals, doing photoshoots for the blog, doing the food shop etc.
Whenever they say this to us, we genuinely laugh because if only you saw us on the days we have to drag ourselves upstairs to the office to answer emails and do more work after a full day's work! We love it but we all get those days…
..and of course it should go without saying – there are many, many more productive people in the world who manage lots more than us plus kids (!)
BUT! We like to think we've adopted certain practices as a couple that have really helped us juggle life and home projects (such as our 1930s house renovation), in a calm way.
Tip 1: Get organised first for a calmer headspace later
Let’s take doing a house renovation project as a good example.
You move in.
Cardboard boxes everywhere.
You’re arguing over who’s not pulling their weight with the menial of tasks.
You’re daunted because you think you might have bitten off more than you can chew.
You’re fearful in case you can’t do it… etc etc.
We know first hand how easy it is to become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of things to do when you’ve taken on a life or home project, especially one that causes such disruption like the dust and upheaval of a renovation.
Whether the life or home project is big or small, like a gallery wall you've been meaning to do, or a full redecoration of a room, or even a totally different project like hunting for a new job, we like to tackle every project head on with this approach…
It reduces overwhelm and gets you focused on what really matters.
1. Write down what your aim is
Define the end goal. To find a dream job? To decorate your spare room? To revamp your garden? To bring more plants to your home? To improve your mental health? Whatever it is, write it down.
2. Get an understanding of how long it will take you to implement
Now define when you think you will realistically have it completed by. This is your deadline. Projects just can’t run without them – and that includes self care projects! Give your aim a deadline.
3. (Then if applicable) Get an understanding of how much it will cost
Here’s where you define a budget. So for example, if your aim is to bring more plants into your home, they aren’t going to magically appear out of thin air. You may need a small budget to buy the compost, the pots or the plants themselves. Set yourself a cost you have put aside especially for the project.
4. Then break your aim/goal up into smaller tasks and list them all on a to do list or app
This is the fun part I always think (I’m a project manager geek!) Take your big aim and break it up into smaller tasks, or milestones. For example if your aim is to renovate a house, break it up into “Put a budget together for the living room”, “Choose wall colours for bedroom”, “Decide layout for kitchen” etc. A very handy tool to set milestones (and deadlines for the milestones) is the Project Planner in our renovation course. Designed for renovators but it can be used for almost any project imaginable.
5. …once you’ve done all this, THEN get started on all the tasks you need to complete with a much calmer, controlled outlook.
Tip 2: Use Trello!
Those steps above are more or less how Neil and I approach a lot of our projects, from this blog to the house to planning holidays. It helps us stay in control of stress levels and gives us focus/efficiency.
The next tip is to download Trello. I can’t tell you how helpful Trello is for managing life admin like meal plans, shopping lists, blog post ideas and general to do lists that mount up. We use Trello to share tasks for the blog and so much more. It helps you tick off lists like never before!
Tip 3: For bigger projects use a spreadsheet to set milestones and targets
We’ve mentioned this before, but for bigger projects such as a house renovation or wedding – or projects where it really matters if they go over time (and budget!) we always recommend using a spreadsheet planning tool like the in our Renovation Planner Bundle we offer to renovators. It keeps your tasks in one place, clearly outlines deadlines and who is responsible. We swear by our project planner tool and are currently using it for our Master Bedroom planning. We know exactly what’s needed, by who, and when we need it complete by. No stressing.
3. Use Google Keep for notes/inspiration on the go
We couldn’t write this post without sharing the app we spend the most time in as a couple (aside from Trello). Google Keep is a note taking app – you can share notes with other people. We use it for things like documenting meal ideas, fireplace ideas, colour schemes, inspiration we found on Instagram and lots more. It’s a great ‘make a note’ then share it kind of app.
Those are some quick fire ways we try to manage the overwhelm in our lives – and for the most part they really work!
What sort of ways do you stay organised? Have you managed a renovation before and if so, how have you tracked to-dos with your builders etc? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’re interested in getting access to a full pack of renovation planners – check out our renovation course
Thanks for reading,
Fifi & Neil xoxo