Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
There are things that we do repeatedly that follow the same pattern. Most of the time, simple checklists will suffice because you just need to know if you did a task. However, I have recently run into three situations where I needed to record more information about the tasks so I didn’t lose track of things. Here is how I simplified tracking these repeating events:
To make this clearer, I’m going to use a concrete example so you can visualize what I am talking about.
I am a Girl Scout leader. That means I have to plan meetings, give appropriate notice, and if we are taking the girls out of our normal meeting spot, I have to get approval for the trip, get parent permission slips, line up transportation and arrange for chaperones. For normal meetings I have to know what badges we are working on, any supplies needed, and who is responsible for running the meeting.
Gather The Information
The first step is to make a list of the information that is needed. For the Girl Scout meetings, it is as follows:
- Date of the meeting.
- Place of the meeting.
- Time. (this will vary if it is a field trip)
- Person leading the meeting.
- Date RSVP due. (We require everyone to respond to all meetings so we have appropriate amounts of materials)
- Date the RSVP was sent to the parents.
- Date the trip approval paperwork was sent.
- Date approval received.
- Patches ordered?
- Patches received?
- Date permission slip sent to parents.
- List of girls who have returned the signed permission slip.
- Supplies needed.
- Things to prepare.
Make A Form
As you can see, the above information is more complex than just a simple checklist. I have dates, checklists and lists all within that information.
The easiest way for me to keep track of this is to make a form. Since I keep my Girl Scout planning in a section of my regular planner, I made the form with that intention; I could have just as easily have made a separate Girl Scout planner in a binder to be kept with the scout supplies.
The form isn’t very complex. I made a table in Word and put in all the information I needed to collect.
Fill A Form For Each Event
Next, I have to keep a form for each event. In some cases it is tempting to skip the form, since we’re doing something that doesn’t require materials at our regular meeting time and place. However, I have found it is in my best interest to know exactly what we did at each meeting so I can meet parent inquiries with definite information. (You wouldn’t believe how many parents claim their daughters have earned badges when they girls weren’t at the meeting).
The other thing that have a form for each meeting gets me is the reminder that I have deadlines. I need 30 days to turn around a trip approval. So my meetings have to be planned out at least 30 days in advance. I also have all the RSVPs set up to automatically notify the parents and I can batch those in the system, saving me time every week; these RSVPs are sometimes dependent on other RSVPs (like for council events) and have varying lead times.
This is the first year I have used this approach. I am using it not only for my Girl Scout meetings, but also keeping track of both guest posts I write and guest posts I receive. I find that I am less likely to forget any part of the planning, and things no longer fall through the cracks.
Can you see any other ways to simplify repeating events? Share below.
Photo by Sean MacEntee