How I Stay Organized

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Published on LinkedIn August 20, 2018

I've been asked how I stay organized trying to balance working in interventional radiology, studying for my MBA, and volunteering with NYSSPA, the New York State Society of Physician Assistants, where I hold the Chair position of two committees (Membership and Political Action). To say I have 100% success is an absolute lie but maybe these tips will help you stay focused too.

1. I keep a written calendar for everything. It makes it so much easier for me to remember things when I hand write them verses typing. Additionally, the calendar I use (Moleskin Weekly Notebook) has the weekly calendar on the left side and a notes page on the right. I can keep task lists, reminders, bill payments, shopping lists, etc. on the right while noting what is coming up on the left. Every Sunday I review and add to make sure my week is planned out. Not to say those plans never change, but its better to approach the week with a plan in mind, as long as you're amenable to changes!

2a. I try to dedicate at least one hour each weeknight to school work and about 3-4 hours each weekend day. This is blocked out time where my phone is on silent and I pull everything school related out to the dining room table (yes, you can have a dining room table in Manhattan) and just hash it out. This sometimes leads to being unable to make last minute plans with friends or even sometimes having to cancel if work runs late and cuts into my study time.

2b. I also try to dedicate about one hour 2-3 days a week for my volunteer work, which mostly consists of reading (a lot of) emails and responding as we make event and legislative plans. I've created inbox folders to separate work, school, and volunteer emails so they don't get mixed up (or more likely, I mix them up) and I can follow along more easily. Unless it is an urgent email, I usually withhold a response until I have my dedicated time to make sure I understand what the email is about.

3. During the week, its lights out by 11:00 for me, which means that by 10:30 my phone is back on silent, TV and computers are off, and I find something to do or read. I've been reading the "Harvard Business Review's 10 Must Reads on Leadership" and "The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye". Neither are read in record time, but the point being that I do something not involving an electronic screen to allow my brain some downtime before falling asleep. Side note, check out my blog post from August 1 on sleep hygiene tips for kids and adults!

4. I plan out my outfits on Sundays as well. It sounds very Stepford Housewife-ish, but it saves so much time on weekday mornings when I don't have to think about what I'm going to wear. I have even dabbled in the minimalist approach to wearing the same outfit every day, but have trouble not being able to have some fashion fun and sometimes New York weather makes that a little impossible. Most days I change into scrubs at work and stay in them throughout the day, which means on hot summer days I get to wear shorts and a tank top to work; however in the colder months, my outfits are planned in advance depending on after work activities and the weather.

5. Sadly, I have given up on TV. I am currently only watching one current show (on Netflix) and get most of it in during the weekend. I just don't have the time (or energy) to invest in keeping up with whats new. Its not a priority. Plus, I don't want to pay for cable given I won't be using it all that much. For now, every few days I escape the world of medicine and business and jump into the not so fictional realm of Madam Secretary.

Hope these tips can help keep you focused and organized too.

LifestyleJoseph Ciavarro