This past three weeks has been very strange for me, I have actually had to stay home. My children have had a full round of sickness bugs and then just one day after returning to school, we then received a full quota of chicken pox. So I have had to give apologies to all meetings and just be mum.
This, however, has given me some much needed time to actually get organised. Having three children with a variety of additional needs and disabilities brings many challenges, however, the one which never gets mentioned is the amount of paperwork involved. You have IEPs, statements, annual reviews, core assessment, reviews, benefit forms, blue badge applications, medical reports, transport details, communication passports, appointments and “ideas/suggestions” that you come across and think may be useful at a later date. A friend once told me how she had an awful reality check when she was buying a filing cabinet just for her child’s paperwork.
In addition to this, I am a wife, a house wife (of a fashion), I write this blog, I co-write Special Needs Jungle, I co-run Inspiring Circles, I co-run Kent PEPs, I am a lead trainer for Early Support, I admin several FB pages and groups, I am SEN governor at one of my children’s schools and I am about to start a social media campaign for our local British Legion. Hence, the title of my blog – “Chaos in Kent” aka Jack of All Trades, Master of None!
My inbox – both the physical one and my email one – was beyond overflowing and I have been looking at many different ways of organising both my inbox and my filing. I have however, after much research and attempts, come across something that appears to be working for me.
First of all, a great book – Getting Things Done by Dave Allen – was my initial inspiration. Dave introduces you to a very simple method of collating your “stuff” into one place, then organising what to do with it.
Your “stuff” either needs actioning or not. If it doesn’t, you can either trash, hold until a later date or file. If it needs actioning, will it take less than two minutes, if yes, do it! If not, delegate or defer it.
There is a lot more detail to it – obviously – but that is the basic idea.
Then I read an article about using Evernote to Get Things Done the GTD way. I’ve had Evernote for over a year but never really “got it”. It was recommended by a friend when I was last asking for help with organising stuff. Having now looked at Evernote in more detail, I can see the attraction.
My favourite thing is the email address you get when setting up Evernote, which then allows you to forward emails (with attachments) directly to your Evernote account. I have set up an _INBOX notebook as the default and now can send emails directly there. You can also add a #tag at the end of the subject line of the email and this will automatically tag in Evernote (if the tag is set up). Also, useful to set up the tag #next or #to do – this will help you to find your next action point. Also, set up a tag called #waiting for – this is really useful when you need to do something but are waiting for something to arrive – e.g. applying for something for your child which needs a medical report you are waiting for. Then when the report arrives, you just have to search #waiting for and your child’s name and the application will be there at your fingertips.
What I also like is the ability to search by tag when looking for something – so much easier than trying to remember which file (or if I am honest, which pile of paper) I put it in.
I have created tags for each of my kids and tags for school, transport, Disabled Children Service, IEP, etc. And I spent last night scanning in documents and adding them to Evernote. This morning I checked if it worked and I searched for an IEP of my son’s and hey presto, I found it within a minute.
I have also been able to take photos of my receipts and send them to my Evernote Inbox with #exp tag. In addition, I have a finance notebook with copies of all my invoices in so I can find my incoming/outgoings easily when it comes time to do the dreaded self-assessment.
I would like to give thanks for the sunshine and the 12′ pool which has kept my children happy while I sat with ipad and notebook because I really do believe that this may work for me. Watch this space though….
Do you use Evernote – what tips can you share for beginners? How do you use it?