191 The Missing Piece: The Power of Information Centralization
When puzzle pieces are scattered across various places, solving the puzzle becomes more time-consuming, frustrating, and overwhelming. Analogously, keeping essential information dispersed across different platforms or devices can hinder one's ability to manage their time and make well-informed, quick decisions efficiently.
In this episode, I'm using this jigsaw puzzle analogy to drive home the importance of centralizing information for time management and planning. Listen in as I emphasize that just as gathering all puzzle pieces in one place makes the process much easier and more enjoyable, organizing one's personal and professional data in a single location simplifies decision-making and allows for more effective scheduling.
If you have been struggling to try and get planning together, it's probably because you're missing that centralized hub.
In this episode, you will be able to:
1. Understand the key link between information centralization and achieving time management goals.
2. Evaluate the most suitable system for gathering your vital information in one accessible location.
3. Ascertain the positive impact of using email processing systems in your professional arena.
4. Appreciate the consequences of avoiding a well-organized information hub on your bottom line.
5. Skillfully navigate the planning process through centralization in top-rated programs to accelerate results.
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All right, imagine for a minute you're sitting down to do like a 500-piece puzzle and someone said, all right, I want you to put all the edge pieces together first. Only the puzzle pieces were scattered around eight to twelve different places in your house, and you weren't allowed to collect them all together. You had to go to each individual one of those places to find all the edge pieces and put it together. Sounds crazy. Does in it?
Well, you might actually be doing this with your life when it comes to planning, and you're not even aware of it. So that's what we're going to be talking about today. I'm super excited about this episode, so let's dive in.
Welcome to the Work + Life Harmony podcast. I'm your host, Megan Sumrell. I'm the creator of the top program and top planner, teaching all things time management, organization, and productivity for women. I'm also a mom and wife, and just like you, I'm juggling hashtag all the things while running multiple businesses and a family. Guess what?
You don't have to feel constantly overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed out. There is another way. When you have the right systems and tools to plan and manage your time, you can live a life of harmony. This is your show to learn from me and other amazing women how to master your time, planning, and organization. To skyrocket your productivity so you can have Work + Life Harmony.
If you're ready to stop feeling overwhelmed, this is the show for you. And if you're new here, I'd love to get you started with my Work + Life Harmony assessment. All you have to do is DM me on Instagram @MeganSumrell with the word Harmony, and my team will send it right over.
Hey, friends. Welcome back to work life. Harmony. So I was recently asked, I guess was more of a conversation with someone who was attempting to start their weekly planning for the first time. And I have always shared very openly that because I've been doing weekly planning for so long and I have all the systems, kind of the upstream systems in place for this, I knock out my weekly planning in 15 minutes or less every single week, and that is a ten-step process.
And someone had reached out and had heard, they're like, oh, okay. Their takeaway was weekly planning should take 15 minutes. And she reached out and she said, I've been at this for over an hour and I still don't have like, I'm not even halfway done with my weekly plan. What am I doing wrong? And so we dug into it, and always the first question I ask is, well, talk to me about the inputs, meaning, what are all the places that you are storing the information that you need to reference in order to create your weekly plan?
And as we dug a little bit deeper on that, we realized, well, she realized as she started going through it that she had somewhere between 13 and 16 different places that she needed to look at to assess everything that was competing for her time in the upcoming week. I was like, well, there we go. That's why you've been at this for so long and you're still not even halfway done. One of the key nine components inside of my entire time management framework. The top framework is centralization and it relates to centralization of information.
I wanted to take our time here this week to really help create the picture of why this is so important and then to give you some things to start thinking about to help you better streamline your planning process. One of the reasons why my weekly planning only takes me 15 minutes is I can literally sit at my desk and I pull up two different information hubs and that's it. I have everything I need at my fingertips to create my weekly plan. The easiest way to do this is to use an analogy. You guys know I love using analogies or metaphors or stories.
And so today I want to kind of paint the picture of doing a jigsaw puzzle. I am a huge jigsaw puzzle fan. I usually have one going in my dining room. Like I can put myself on probation because I'm someone where if a puzzle is out, I can't help myself and I stop honoring my commitments that I start doing puzzle. So thankfully, I have a fun little app where I could do puzzles quickly in the evening.
Anyway, I digress. So let's say you were doing a 1000 or even just a 500, but I like 1000. Let's say you're doing a 1000-piece puzzle and we dumped all the pieces out or even they were all sitting in a bag. Let's think through if you are a puzzler, what a lot of I will say most people I know that love puzzles, what kind of steps they take when they are sitting down to put the whole puzzle together, right? Well, step one is all the pieces are there.
Then the pieces typically, and the way I work as well is I will first sort my pieces into edge pieces and interior pieces and actually put the edge together so that I kind of have the framework, I have an outline to work with for the puzzle. Then moving forward, there's a lot of different strategies that people will use. Some people like to sort pieces by shape. Others like to sort pieces by color as it relates to the interior of the puzzle. Neither one is wrong.
They're just different ways of categorizing all the pieces that need to go into the puzzle. Right. I personally am usually a color sorter. And then as I pull out all the pieces related to one color, I will then go put those pieces together and then more of the puzzle starts to take shape. So now, let's imagine this.
Let's say you were sitting down to do a puzzle. But I came into your home, I took the bag of all the pieces and I put like half of them on whatever puzzles, like in my house, maybe be the dining room table. Half the pieces were sitting in the dining room table. Then I took a handful of pieces and I put them in the kitchen. Then I took a handful of pieces and I put them in your purse.
Then I took a handful of pieces and ran them upstairs next to your nightstand. Maybe I took another handful and put them in your family room and then some in your desk and then some pieces in a drawer somewhere. And then I said, okay, now go gather all the edge pieces. Imagine how much time it would take for you to run around. You're not allowed to bring all the pieces back to the table.
You have to leave all the pieces where they are. And now go start doing the puzzle. Think of how long it would take for you to go to all those locations, right? And then what if there was a bunch in your purse and you missed one of them? It would take you ten times longer just to get those edge pieces out, right?
And then I said, okay, you spend days getting the edge put together. I, on the other hand, have all my pieces together. Imagine how much faster I'm going to get that edge done. So now we've got the edges done. And now I say, okay, go ahead and start on the puzzle.
How are you going to decide where you want to start? And again, I'm not going to allow you to put all the pieces together. Imagine how difficult that would be if you were going to all these different places, sorting through each one of these individual piles, trying to define what you bring, then bringing it back and trying to put the puzzle together. It would take you so much longer to get that puzzle done right? Instead of having all the pieces in one central place.
Well, guys, this is exactly what I'm talking about when I'm talking about centralization of information. If you are using sticky notes around your desk, then a notebook by your bedside table, a notebook in your car, a notebook in your kitchen, along with a paper planner, along with your Google or ical or whatever calendar. Along with the Notes app on your phone and then some other apps that someone told you to do along with the task list feature in your Google Calendar to store information around the things that you need to do, the things you need to remember, the ideas that you have, the request from other people. It's no wonder that when you sit down to try and create a plan for the week, it's overwhelming feeling. And yes, it's going to take you a ridiculously long time because you're going to constantly be going and looking at different places, trying to prioritize across different locations, different applications, different systems.
This is why having a centralization of information so critically important. Now, this usually leads people to say, well, I can't just have one place. Like what if I am out and about? I wanted to have a centralized information hub, maybe in a notebook or my planner, but I'm out somewhere and I don't have it with me. Well, this is where implementing your own personal systems becomes so critical.
Now, just like with the puzzle how I said there's a million right ways to put together the inside, it's whatever works for you. Finding the right system that works for you with your existing life is key. I'm not here to tell you that there's one in, one right application or information hub to use. There's lots of different right ones. And I love seeing all the women inside my top program share what they're using because it's really powerful to see all the different really good systems and processes that people have in place.
So I will give you an example of the difference between your information hub versus systems that support it in my personal life. So, my information hub I mentioned, I bring up two things, right? I have one for personal and I have one for work. So I personally use ClickUp for work and that's how the whole company operates. And then I use trello for personal.
So when I'm sitting down to do my weekly planning, I am pulling up click up and Trello and I have all the information that I need there. Now, as I'm out and about, I have lots of requests coming at me through email, through DMs, through sometimes even snail mail. So information is coming at me all day long. One of the processes I already have in place is how I process my email every day, three times a day. So, because that process has been in place for me for a very long time, and part of that process is as I'm going through my email, I am taking out what needs to be added to the list of things competing for my time and putting it either in Trello or ClickUp.
When I'm out and about, if something comes up, I will send myself an email because I already have that process working for me. So this is where I really love to work with people to say what processes do you already have in place? What tools are you already using? Let's find ways to harness those to help you create that centralized hub. Instead of having an app for this, a sticky note for that, a notebook over here, a piece of paper over there, whatever the thing is that sits in your car, right?
So if you have been struggling to or even resisting to try and get planning together, it's probably because you're missing that centralized hub, right? And it's daunting and overwhelming to think about all the places that you have to go to to try and remember and figure out everything that's competing for your time. And so here's what I want to tell you. Those of you in my Top program already know this, but for those of you who aren't, this is actually one of the first things that we do inside the program is you start to create your centralized hub before we dive into mastering weekly planning. So that when you learn the basic five-step process and then the advanced ten-step process, it doesn't take you 2 hours, 3 hours to create your first weekly plan, because it isn't the planning that's taking the folks that don't have that centralized hub.
Planning isn't what's taking the long time. It's the gathering of the information. So we've got to streamline that. So think about the next time you sit down. If you're a puzzler, imagine how hard it would be if you didn't have all your pieces right there for you.
And then realize this is why it's so important for you to do that with everything that you are juggling in your life. Now, if you're interested in learning more about my Top program, I've got a great additional free training for you that you can go grab and watch. That gives you kind of some overview of what we cover in there. It tells you more about the program. You can just grab that www.theworklifeharmony.com, all right?
And that will give you access to the training. You'll be able to learn more about the program, and it's really going to be your first step in helping you create that centralized information hub. All right, have a fantastic week. We'll see you back here next week.
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