My Productivity Tools – Or how to be a Master Organizer!

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Hello friends!

If there’s one question I’ve been getting over and over and over again for the last two years or so is “but!!! FADWA!!! How do you manage to stay on op of blogging on top of everything else?” and let me tell you, it’s called Anxiety. Well, that and having a Virgo mother but, details. On a more serious note, a huge part of the reason behind me being so organized and on top of everything really is anxiety, I can’t really rest if it’s nagging at the back of my brain, so I HAD to find a way to visualize everything I have to do and actually…you know…do it. In this post I will share EVERYTHING I use to maximize my productivity in the hopes that some of it works for you as well.

A little less than a year ago, I made a similar post where I detailed in two part how I stay on top of reading and blogging. And although some of it still applies (re: my love and use of spreadsheets), most of it has changed DRASTICALLY. And the most important difference is that I stopped using a bullet journal, which was too time consuming for me, and digitalized almost all of it.

I know a lot of people who love BuJo so if that works for you, by all means, keep it!! But I just found that for me it was too much of a hassle and I stopped keeping it up to date. Plus having everything in digital form is WAY more accessible for me because I can have everything on my phone and it’s just a lot faster to update.

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These are the loves of my life. I’ve been using mostly the same system for almost as long as I’ve been blogging and it’s been working wonderfully well. I have three separate spreadsheets, one is for reading and two are for blogging:

My blogging schedule

This is the one thing that stayed the same for three years. I’ve never changed it and use it to have an overview of all the posts I need to get done. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I have a set type of posts for every day I post, Wednesday is the only day that tends to vary, so with the spreadsheet layout and the color coded system, I can easily figure out how many of each type of posts I need to do and gauge the number of hours (yes, hours) each will take me, so I know what days I’ll have enough time to actually write them and how much time to allocate to them.

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  • The highlighted ones are the ones that went up.
  • Different colors I use: Blue for reviews, yellow for discussion posts, purple for #DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss posts, red for wrap-ups, green for book tags or book lists, orange for monthly features and pink for random things.
  • Different statues I use: DraftedScheduledRead/Reading when it’s a book review.
  • Also,,, sneek peak of this week’s posts hehe.

My reading tracker

This is also something I’ve been using for a while but I completely redid it for 2019, it’s mostly the same, I still track all book related info but I detailed the diversity square and added the cross-posting square because otherwise I lose track of what I shared to goodreads and what I didn’t.

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  • Explaining everything about this will take forever, you can find my FULL spreadsheet here, which, once you check it out, is pretty self-explanatory.
  • I also use it to track series that I’m reading because otherwise they slip my mind and go unread 5ever.
  • I also decided to make a TEMPLATE this time around for those of you who want to use it. Just make sure to make a copy before using it so the original template can be available for others to use.

#DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss tracker

I won’t share this one because 1/ it’s of no interest to y’all, it’s very specific to my blog and 2/ it has other people’s info, as well as their post ideas. But what it basically is, is a way for me to keep track of what each person wants to talk about, whether I’ve contacted them or not, when to expect their posts and whether I’ve received a draft, the whole post, or nothing at all. I legit wouldn’t be able to keep up with this feature if not for this system.

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THIS IS MY 2019 DISCOVERY AND COUP DE COEUR!!! (idk if there’s an english translation for that phrase oops). This is the app that truly replaced my bullet journal because it’s just that all-encompassing and intuitive. You might have heard me talk about it in my 2019 goals post, but to reiterate, it’s both a website and a phone app that allows you to create boards for anything and everything you might want to track in list form, they’re completely customisable and you can also link your boards to different apps. I have many boards, but only two that may be of interest to you:

My Blogging Calendar

This might sound redundant because I already have a spreadsheet for this but where I use the spreadsheet as an overview, I use this board to break down my spreadsheet, and have a much more in depth view of my blogging. That as well as the fact that I use it beyond just my monthly schedule. Which is a lifesaver, because before this year I used to forget about some posts until almost due date and then I had to scramble to do them haha, now I have a lot more peace of mind and blogging doesn’t stress me out nearly as much. I’m gonna walk you through every list of mine but some of them are blacked out because uhh, I’m not putting my ideas on the internet before I even get to use them.

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  • List 1This Month: The posts for the on-going month that I still need to schedule.
  • List 2 Scheduled: The posts for the on-going months that are done and ready for posting.
  • List 3 Blogging Ideas: This is my brain dump of all post ideas, the one I choose from when I’m planning my month. I have three types of labels: Red – Solid outline in mind. Orange – Needs some brushing up. Yellow – Vague idea.
  • List 4#DiverseBookBloggersDiscuss: This is where I put the posts that won’t be included in the ongoing month but that are underway: Blue – Drafted (by the guest poster). Purple – Received. Green – Scheduled.
  • List 5 Tags and Awards: This is to keep track of the things I was tagged in but haven’t gotten around to doing yet.
  • List 6 To review: The books that I finished and need to review.
  • List 7Reviewed: Where I move the books from list 6 once I schedule the review and before it goes up.

This is also helpful because I can also add posting dates to posts that don’t come out in the on-going month but that are pretty much set in stone and I Should Not Forget About. Once the month rolls around, I just move the different posts from their previous lists to This Month and TADA, I have it all in one tiny column.

I have this linked to a Calendar so whenever I want an overview and to see how everything looks and if everything is scheduled right, I just wip that out and can see immediately if a post is put -by mistake- on a day where it doesn’t belong.

My TBRs

I am the type of person who’s going to purchase an ebook she’s been dying to read when it’s on sale but won’t read it for months (or years) because I just forgot I had it. I’m also the type of person who doesn’t separate her physical unread books from the read ones so I don’t have a visual of how big my TBR is so THAT is when this board comes in handy:

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  • List 1Monthly TBR: The books I’m planning to read in the current month.
  • List 2Read: Those from my monthly TBR I already red.
  • List 3Arcs to read.
  • List 4 Physical TBR.
  • List 5 eBook TBR.

As you can see I don’t track my Arcs on a spreadsheet anymore because this is way easier and faster and I can sort them in a way that I know which I have to read ASAP and which can still wait.

I also have A LOT of labels in this board. Most of them are for genres so I won’t walk you through them since they’re arbitrary but three of them are for my level of excitement about the book: Light blue – Very excited. Purple: Excited. Pink: Meh.

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This is a little gem of an app that I use for, you guessed it, habit tracking. Since I do most my blogging and blog-hopping in the week end, I don’t track those. I only track three things on this app: working out, studying German, and the only blog related thing is posting on bookstagram. This is very handy because you can set which days you want your habit tracking to apply to and it send you reminders in case you forget (which I do. A lot.)

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This is pretty much the only part of my organization that isn’t digital and only use it for my to-do lists. I have a Kate Spade one but honestly, any planner with weekly (or daily) layouts would do. I have two types of to do lists.

  1. Monthly to-do list: These are things I want to do during the month but am pretty flexible on and can do at any point in the month. So depending on which days have a lighter load are the ones that I’m going to be putting these things in.
  2. Daily to-do lists: These are things I’m going to do on a daily basis and they help me to visualize what days I have to get a lot done and have to maximize my time and the days that are more chill and I have more time to do things I need to get done.

My daily to-do lists are a mash-up of work, studying, blogging, working out, chores, etc… and they help me focus my energy, not get overwhelmed and freeze from anxiety and also not forget anything. I think that this is what made the biggest different in my day to day life: I find myself procrastinating less and doing more, since I have a plan to follow for the day and items to check off a list. I don’t find myself getting as scatter-brained anymore.

If you’e curious as to how I do my blogging, I detailed it in this post here that my friend cw put together but the gist of it is that I do the BULK (meaning 90%) of my blogging, during my off days (which for now, happen to be the week-end) so post writing and scheduling on Saturday, blog-hopping and replying to comments on Sunday. If we’re being real though, there’s also almost always some left over scheduling to be done on Sunday.

One thing that works in my favor (or maybe not?) is that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to sit still doing nothing so if i’m not working, i’m studying. If I’m not studying, I’m at the gym. If I’m not at the gym, I’m doing chores. If I’m not doing chores, I’m blogging. And if I’m doing none of that then I’m reading. I mainly read at night when I’m in bed or on my lunch break. Probably not the healthiest since I tend to exhaust myself but OH WELL.

So there’s honestly no secret recipe to blogging, all it boils down to is maximizing your time and being efficient and smart with the few hours you have. Even if only a couple hours a week, no one says you need to post every day, or even every week. You can post whenever you have time and/or feel like it.

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That’s it until next time.

Do you use any apps and/or websites, tips and tricks to stay on top of your blogging and reading?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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44 thoughts on “My Productivity Tools – Or how to be a Master Organizer!

  1. I’m in love with bullet journalling right now, but I can see myself going this route eventually if I ever feel like I’m spending too much time fiddling around with my spreads. It sounds like you have a really good system that uses both the best of digital tools and a physical planner to optimize your productivity! I love how you use Trello for tracking blog posts and reading progress. I could see myself using it for blog content in the future if I ever get really busy and have trouble staying organized. Thanks for sharing ^_^

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  2. This is honestly so wonderful and amazing and appeals so so much to my Virgo heart ❤ I mainly use Google Calendar, Google Keep, and Goodreads Shelves for tracking everything, so I always love seeing what other people use 🙂

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  3. Fadwa, you truly are the queen of organization. Dang, I wish I could be this organized. Even though I’m a master procrastinator and pretty disorganized when it comes to life stuff – I love tidying up my room and cluttering gives me headaches, but actually organizing schedules and to-do lists? Pff, I suck. -, I actually manage to hand everything in time, so I never really thought about developing an organizational method. I’ve never missed an assignment or forgot to study for a test, so I like to believe that I don’t need one, which is absolutely not true.
    I like tracking stuff, and the 2019 Reading Spread Sheet has been amazing so far! I love being able to track everything and see the data results as well. I should probably come up with something similar for blogging too, as all my ideas are current thrown into one documment. It works, but it’s not as efficient and color cordinated, so I could definitely give it a shot!
    I am also interested in trying habit trackers, since I’m so into tracking stuff – not so much in planning ahead, though. Hopefully, the tracker will allow me to be more consistent with both my reading and school stuff – like trying to work a little bit everyday, and not leaving everything until last minute.
    Thanks for sharing your tips! ❣️

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    • Omggg haha thank you 💖🙈 i feel the same about clutter, i can’t function in a messy space! I also never miss any due dates etc so the organization system is mainly to reduce procrastination and anxiety.
      I used to have all my blogging ideas in a note folder on my phone but this has just made my life a lot easier.
      My pleasure!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this! My spreadsheets look like a monochrome mess compared to yours. I should definitely clean them up and get a better system going. For a physical planner I use the hobonichi cousin. It’s amazing and has every kind of layout that you need.

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  5. Wow! Your dedication is amazing! Thank you for all the tips!!
    I want to ask you about studying, on how to reduce procrastination? When the study load gets overwhelming (this year is on a different leve) I just freeze. Any tips on how to keep up?

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure!!
      Ooof i feel you, that used to happen to me as well. But what i find works for me is to divide the workload on the days i have until deadlines/exams etc… and i do a checklist of the lectures or study material i wanna get through in the day and once i’m done with that list, i don’t add anything else and do something to reward myself like read or blog or watch something.
      You need to have a daily goal when studying otherwise, if you don’t have a finish line to envision you’re more prone to freezing, so the checklist method might work for you 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow you’re so amazing, thank you for always sharing tips!! I have been struggling with the organization with blog/bookstagram/book club and I’m definitely going to try Trello and the spreadsheet idea.

    seriously, you’re the best and THANK YOU

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  7. as someone who loves attempting to organize my life (key word being “attempting” lol) this post is SO inspiring. I’ve used Trello a little bit in the past but now I want to try it again! I’ve been using a blogging spreadsheet made by another blogger for most of my blogging organization this year, but I also kind of want to experiment with a more personalized system. I’m also very intrigued by the habit tracking app, though personally I have found that the trackers I use in my planner do work. I may have to try it though just to see how I like it.

    This is such a great post and I can’t wait to give some of these platforms/apps/websites a try. Thanks, Fadwa!

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  8. THANK YOU! I might try to incorporate some of these into my organization system, but I’ll try to limit the number of apps and websites, otherwise, it gets too overwhelming.
    I’ve decided to stop using a physical planner as well and my biggest saviour has been Google Calendar, where I keep track of everything, be it college deadlines, blog posts, appointments, birthday dinners … All colour-coordinated, so hell yeah! I’ve also started using Trello this year: for blog posts (mostly ideas) and my goals. I might add one for my TBR. Aaannnd!!! spreadsheets are the best invention ever, I started doing more for this year, like keeping track of my reading and my expenses, and it’s life-changing.
    Great post! 😀 (btw, what does ‘coup de coeur’ mean? I’ve tried looking it up, but no real answer, unfortunately)

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    • Ohh yay i hope they work for you!!! And yes google calendar is super helpful as well, we use it at home for joint family events, doctor appointements, etc…
      And coup de coeur doesn’t really have a translation but it’s like something i’ve fallen deeply in love with.

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  9. This is such a fantastic post, thank you so much for taking the time to share this. I admire your organization skills SO much. I use my post schedule the most, it’s a document that looks a little bit like yours on google sheets and I would be so lost and unorganized without it all haha. I don’t track my reading besides what I’ve read on goodreads, but I really like your idea to keep a TBR on Trello, I should try this app! Thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂

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  10. I am a fellow Spreadsheet addict and literally use them for EVERYTHING. And I also use Trello but I use them opposite way – Trello for bigger picture and spreadsheet for the detailed one. I need to get on the Habitbull app, I mean there can never be too many apps for organization right?

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  11. This is making me want to throw out my bujo (I really need to get back to it again) and download that app! But honestly, using the bujo also makes me happy because i can doodle in the margins and now i have started taking down lyrics and poems again like i used to in my school journals. Lol. But ahh, this is so in-depth and great.

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  12. Oh wow, this is so impressive! I love how you have thought of everything- and even using different methods for different areas of books/reading!

    It’s something I need to work on to me more visible in the blogging world, so I’m definitely taking notes 🙂 Trello looks awesome!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Like

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  15. Oh wow I love this post! This is so very helpful what with the template and app recommendations! I’m currently trying to find an in between for keeping track of everything digitally and physically which is tough, but I’m working on it 🙂

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