How to Stay Organized with Your LifeSheet
Do you find that, as you’re going about your day, you begin asking yourself, “hmm… where was that document?”
Or do you find yourself trying to remember certain stats and facts, as well as their source?
Or maybe you have long lists of information that need a consolidated home, because you feel scattered and like your data is spread out and a little disorganized.
If so, you may benefit from creating your own LifeSheet.
First, a bit of a Preamble
Last week, I shared a little bit about how I use my LifeSheet to stay organized (in addition to several other methods and systems that keep me in check).
Several of you found this to be a worthwhile idea and expressed interest in it.
At the outset, I want to remind you that I did not invent the LifeSheet system. I first learned it from James Schramko, who has a low-cost training on this very thing.
That said, it’s easy to make your LifeSheet your own, and you should make it your own!
Since all systems are there to serve you, you should always set them up to work within your creative infrastructure. You should not be a slave to something that does not jive with you.
You should always set them up to work within your creative infrastructure. You should not be a slave to something that does not jive with you. (Click To Tweet)
I have ditched countless systems and routines that never worked for me. Integrity is knowing when something isn’t working for you and setting a new structure in place to address the issue.
Integrity is knowing when something isn’t working for you and setting a new structure in place to address the issue. (Click To Tweet)
So, feel free to take inspiration from my LifeSheet, but don’t feel obligated to copy it in any way. I make it as useful as possible for me based on my work.
You should make yours as useful as possible to you.
Where to Create Your LifeSheet
I addressed this briefly in the post referenced earlier, but the best place to set up your LifeSheet is within Google Drive, because of its searchability.
Simply create a new Google Sheet and label it “LifeSheet 2021” or whatever works for you.
It is recommended that you set up a new LifeSheet annually, as what applies this year doesn’t always apply to the next. And I’ll be honest — depending on how you use your LifeSheet, it’s bound to get quite full over the course of a year.
But the other advantage of creating annual LifeSheets is that you will have a record of each year, what was important to you, what you were creating, as well as the progress you made.
For those who enjoy documenting their journey or have archivist tendencies ( I admit that I do), with a LifeSheet, you can easily refer back to events, dates and times, projects, and so forth, if you make it a point to store this information in your sheet.
Setting up Tabs within Your LifeSheet
It all starts with setting up your tabs!
Now, this is quite easy to do, but without any frame of reference, you’re probably going to feel a little like an untethered helium balloon.
This is where I’d like to share what my current tabs are, as well as an idea of what is stored in each.
But first, a quick explanation. A file cabinet is generally organized with folders, right? And each folder contains a different category of files. So, the tabs within your LifeSheet are like different folders.
You could also think of it this way. When you set up a WordPress blog, you create multiple categories that you can slot your blog posts into (an intelligent writer never chooses more than three to five categories, because she wants to become known for her expertise). Same idea.
So, here are the tabs I’ve set up within my LifeSheet and what they are for:
The thing that gets me up in the morning, the thing that keeps me going in my darkest hours, the thing that gives me reason to walk through the most grueling challenges in life is simply this — my mission. Which is why I felt it important to document it in my LifeSheet and have it as my first tab as a constant reminder.
And my umbrella mission is to inspire creatives and creators. I ensure that every initiative I take on is in alignment with that core mission.
Every creative and creator should have a storage locker for their flights of fancy, brainstorms, instant awakenings, or random ideas. And when I say, “flights of fancy,” I don’t mean to sound demeaning. But inevitably, you will look back on many of your ideas and say, “that was a horrible idea.” Which is why you should be choosy. You’ve only got so much time!
One of my crazy ideas this year was to start a new podcast. But I found out through surveying my audience that they liked my current podcast and wanted to hear more.
I have some thoughts on coining terms I wish to share in the future. For now, I suggest referring to the linked article, as it is quite definitive and enlightening.
So, a concept is something of your own invention. The LifeSheet system is not my invention. But Weekflow is. So is YearSheet (I will be sharing more about these concepts soon). Technically, Music Entrepreneur HQ and The Indie YYC are concepts, though they are also a business and a community, respectively.
Should concepts be trademarked? It’s up to you.
So, this is where you would track your concepts or terms you’ve coined. That said, when ideas don’t resonate with your audience, there isn’t much point in holding onto them (unless it’s for your own pleasure).
Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck started as a concept first, and because it resonated, evolved into a best-selling book.
Also known as “decisions I don’t make,” such as publishing daily.
This is awfully Godin-esque, but I take liberal inspiration from the likes of Seth Godin, James Schramko, and Napoleon Hill (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). I’m a musician, and this is the way we tend to think about influence — “I’ll take this part of Eric Johnson, this other part of Eddie Van Halen, one part from Nuno Bettencourt, and blend it all together.” I don’t know if I’ve ever been accused of being the most original or unique writer either, but at least I have my own experiences to share.
What rules do you live by? These tend to dictate your overall effectiveness, since what you do is just as important as what you don’t do (or the other way around as the case might be). The more experience you gain, the more you’ll begin to lean on and value your rules, because time is the most precious resource, and your rules will dictate how you spend your time.
The more experience you gain, the more you’ll begin to lean on and value your rules, because time is the most precious resource, and your rules will dictate how you spend your time. (Click To Tweet)
Or, more accurately “client work.” I have separate documents for business goals and product development. That said, I could always link to those documents within my LifeSheet, and that’s a great tip for anyone looking to set up and make the most of their LifeSheets.
Within the “projects” tab I log the name of the project, its status, as well as deadline or completion date.
As creators, Schramko says we often have a lot of courses on the go and sometimes lose track or forget about them completely. Fair point. So, I thought I would add this tab for myself, too.
And having done this, I went back to complete a course I had started awhile back. So, I guess you could say it works.
Presently, my bigger concern is that I am part of a business-oriented mastermind group, Slack channel, and online community. So, keeping track of this activity has become more important to me, as I want to make the most of each. Perhaps this is what I should track in my LifeSheet, but I haven’t set it up yet.
This one is going to be relatively self-explanatory to all my writer friends out there. Within this tab, I store all my article ideas. And because I publish daily (sometimes multiple times per day), I find this tab especially critical.
Although it’s always nice to capture trending topics and keywords I can rank for, I tend to focus on the immediacy of inspiration and document ideas first instead of worrying about how the topics are going to be received by readers. Having written thousands of articles over the years, I can honestly say I have no idea how any piece is going to be received and whether it’s going to match my expectations.
But as much as possible, I like to answer questions, and many of my posts are based around real questions I’ve received. And as we all know, if one person has a question, likely there are others who have the same question.
I’m a bit of a Twitter power user, and I love interacting with, and retweeting those who consistently share great content. I also love to give shout-outs to my 🔥 Tweeps. So, here I track who those tweeps are, as well as their area of expertise.
If I just refer to this list, it makes it super easy to curate content (retweet) from across a varied group of influencers. Keeps me active in the Twitter game.
As always, I will encourage you to follow me on Twitter and to be a part of the “action.”
I have yet to take advantage of this yet, but this is where I thought I would log all my Medium posts and their URLs.
As anyone with personal experience will attest, going digging for your past articles in Medium is kind of a pain, and as of this writing I have over 360 stories.
So, for all those times when I want to link to a specific story, I thought it would be a good idea to store all this information in my LifeSheet.
Publications are crucial to getting your Medium stories in front of more readers. I have taken this advice to heart and have started creating and joining various publications (Smedian is a great tool for that!).
I simply do not have the bandwidth to memorize what each publication is about or what their submission process is. So, within this tab I keep track of the types of stories each publication accepts, so my stories can always find a home.
More Ideas for Your Tabs
I think by now you’re starting to get a better sense of how to use your LifeSheet and what tabs to create. Unless you do a lot of the same work I do, it’s unlikely that you will create the same tabs as I have.
So, just in case, here are some additional suggestions on what you can track within your LifeSheet:
- Login information. These days, you might be more inclined to use your browser’s built-in functionality or an app like LastPass. But there might be some instances where it makes sense to store login information in your LifeSheet, and back in the day, it was one of the best ways. Of course, you should always take the necessary precautions when it comes to the logging of personal information.
- Affiliate partnerships. I have tracked my affiliate partnerships in past LifeSheets, and still think it’s a good idea. You can create quick links to each of your dashboards and check in periodically to see how your sales are coming.
- Key Performance Indicators. Marketers like to track things like views, leads, conversions, and so forth. If there are specific KPIs in your business you want to keep a bird’s eye view on, and measure over time, you can put these in your LifeSheet. Note that this will be a manual process unless you use a tool like IFTTT or Zapier to automate the logging of information from one app (like Gumroad) to another (Google Sheets — your LifeSheet).
- Standard Operating Procedures. I’m a bit of an operations nerd, so maybe this is just how I think, but linking to procedure documents (especially repetitive tasks) from your LifeSheet could help you maximize your efficiency. Or, if you have a team, you could easily manage your SOPs this way.
- Dream 100. I’ve spoken elsewhere on how to build your Dream 100, so I won’t be getting into that here. But it makes sense that you’d want to document such an extensive list and have your finger on the pulse of how those relationships are developing. Your LifeSheet is a good place to do that.
- More. It’s up to you! Add whatever tabs make sense to you and begin documenting and organizing the information that affects and enriches your world.
Your LifeSheet — a Living, Breathing Document
As I began work on this article, I deleted a tab within my LifeSheet. I hadn’t been using it, and it clearly wasn’t important enough to keep.
The point is this. Your life changes. Your work changes. And your priorities can also change.
Don’t feel like you need to commit to one thing. Your LifeSheet should be a living, breathing document. You should be spending a little bit of time inside daily and adding and removing from it regularly.
You can get a bit of an idea of my priorities from the above. I don’t want this to be a “do as I say, not as I do” lesson, so if there are things I’ve said in the past, such as “I’m prioritizing Twitter and Medium this year,” it is clearly reflected in my LifeSheet.
Now you know exactly how a LifeSheet works as well as how to set one up. You should also be clear on its benefit.
And now it’s time to action your learnings.
Will you be setting up your LifeSheet? What will you be putting in it?
Let me know in the comments.
Originally published at https://davidandrewwiebe.com on February 3, 2021.