Organizing Your Life Using Available Technologies
Thursday, June 15, 2017
by: Sviatlana Liashchyna, Esq., Compliance Attorney, Manager, LOGS Network

Section: WILLed Q2 2017 (Please click on article title to read full article)

I am a mother of a small child, a young professional, a wife, and a driven woman. I work hard to be my best in each of those roles, but there have been many times that I feel extremely overwhelmed balancing my career, family, and personal life obligations. I began to compromise on the “non-essentials” - going out with friends, reading for pleasure and personal growth, and spending time recharging. Unfortunately, despite these changes, I found myself in the same place. I started to wonder if I truly could have it all. The mere fact that I had to make a choice between having a family and a career made me feel like a failure.
So I stopped compromising and started looking for solutions on how I could address the inherent challenges of “having it all” and achieve my balance goals.
I started with the basics of research and typed “have it all” in my internet search bar. Lo and behold, the top search results were full of articles like No One 'Has It All,' Because 'Having It All' Doesn't Exist[1]; Having It All Kinda Sucks[2]; ‘Having it all‘ is impossible: What women really need is balance, fairness and respect[3]. It seemed the world was insisting that what I wanted was nothing more than a pipe dream. However, instead of discouraging me, it gave me the motivation and inspiration to dig deeper.
First, I decided to manage my life chaos as a “project” - a long-term project with objectives, deadlines and quantifiable results. Since this is my life, I am the project leader. After all no one else is going to do this for me. Next, as with any project, I identified the following essential elements: clear strategic objectives, team, communications and resources. I knew my objective, and my team consisted of my family members, child care providers, friends and even neighbors. Thus, existing technologies became my resources and means of communication which allowed me to remain organized and work efficiently towards archiving my project objectives. In this article I described several types of modern technologies which made my life more manageable.

Task Management Applications

There are thousands of task management applications available today. It is easy to get confused and it is hard to identify application which is right for you. Before starting the application search ask yourself the following questions. Are you a visual person? Do you need extensive details about a task or a short task description would suffice? Do you plan on sharing your tasks and with whom? Do you want automatic reminders or a simple checklist would work great? Do you want to track progress of individual tasks? Would you like to have ability to create sub-tasks? Do you want task productivity reports? I’ve identified four types of applications based on their core functionalities.
The first type includes super simple task management applications with are nothing more than pretty checklists. These applications typically would not allow users to set up task deadlines or repetitive tasks, or share tasks with other users. The examples of such applications would be: Taasky; Paperless; Apple Reminders.
The second type consists of applications which are very functional but very simple at the same time. These applications allow to set up repetitive tasks, set deadlines, reminders, filter tasks by type, tag tasks and share them with other users. These applications would not allow users to add task-related attachments or lengthy descriptions. Examples of these applications are:; TickTick; 2Do, HitList.
The third type of applications are applications with an enhanced visual presentation. This type of technologies includes kanban board applications such as Trello, LeanKit, KanbanFlow. These applications allow to view tasks and progress in plain view in addition to the traditional task management functions.
The forth type of applications includes professional task and project management technologies. These tools would have functionality of the above mentioned types with an ability to track a task progression through the designed workflow. These applications would also typically have an enhanced functionally for project teams’ collaboration.
Personally, I decided to use It is great and very simple task manager application. In my opinion, the best feature of this application is an ability to set up your goals and associate your daily tasks with those goals. At the end of each week, month, quarter or year I analyze how efficient I was by looking at how much time I spent (the app allows user to record time spent on a task) or how many tasks I completed to archive each of my goals/objectives. I manage my work-related tasks and personal tasks separately. However, I add into my personal task manager certain professional projects which would allow me to develop new professional skills, advance my career, or define me as a subject matter expert in a certain field. Also I always share my task list with my husband. You never know what tasks he will be willing to take on to help out. It does not always have to be me who does grocery shopping.
Meals Planning Applications
I think everyone would agree that grocery shopping and cooking are one of the most time consuming daily tasks we have. On a daily basis we spend about 2 hours on preparing, cooking and cleaning up from meals. Research shows that there is a direct dependency between the amount of time we spend on preparing food and how healthy we eat. The more time spent on cooking, the healthier meals are.[4]
There are multiple applications which allow easy meal planning, automatically create grocery shopping lists based on the meals planned, as well as some applications that provide you information about grocery sales and promotions in your local stores. Some good meal planning applications to try would be; BigOven; Out of Milk.
My favorite meal planning applications are Anylist and Paprika. These applications are not free, but they are very functional. My favorite function is an ability to search recipes online and automatically import them into an application. The imported recipes can be saved in the recipe box and /or added to a meal plan, or even modified to the users’ taste. These applications allow you to share shopping lists with other users. Items to shopping lists also can be added by voice with Siri.
Another excellent application in this group is Mealboard. It allows to track the inventory of your pantry, meal planning, and import receipts and grocery lists. If you enter prices for your pantry items, the application also calculates the total cost of each meal you’re planning. It could be a super powerful application but it is a little too much to set up for me.
In you really want to go above and beyond in the food planning category, the next level is to try Fooducate. Fooducate is an app that is designed to scan a barcode, and then educate the consumer regarding how healthy food products are and provide healthier alternatives.
Health and Wellness Applications
In WILLed Q3 2016 there was an article “10 Things Women Leaders Need to Stop Doing” authored by Debbie Foster where she wrote: “Stop putting your health last”[5]. It’s a great advice. There are technologies which would help to be more conscious about your physical and spiritual health. The idea of these applications is to demonstrate to the users in a form of charts or tables what is going on with their bodies during the day and provide an ability to analyze results and make adjustments. One can also buy Fitbit or a similar device, which would track the body’s activities and record results in the integrated applications (Fitbit). There are many other great applications for watching diets and daily activities, such as LoseIt.
Recently, I discovered Lark. This application stands out in my opinion. It uses elements of artificial intelligence to help people to get more fit and healthier. You simply tell Lark what you ate and it will give you a nutrition coaching based on your goals and past eating habits. You can also use this application as motivation and support tool by checking in with the application during the day, telling it how you feel (ex. stressed, hungry, tired etc.) and receiving support and health advice. You do not need to call your mother or husband for this anymore.
There are also many applications which provide training videos, such as Blogilates or Nike Training Club. These applications have different types of workout which you can do based on your goals wherever and whenever you want.
Password Keeper Applications
A good, secure, reliable, transparent and easy to use password keeper application would be very helpful tool of a working mother, who has SO MANY important things to remember. There are a lot of great products out there: LastPass, Dashlane, Sticky Password, KeyPass. I use Keeper. It meets all of my criteria. It also audits my passwords for complexity, generates strong security passwords, has wallet for storing my credit cards information, all passwords are encrypted and allows access through biometrics confirmation.
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