People often complain about lack of time when the lack of direction is the real problem. – Zig Ziglar
Where Do I Start?
What is it about the New Year that causes us to be driven towards being more organized, taking control, starting over? Thinking about organizing my life is a daunting task. Thinking about changing it is even more so. So, maybe if I start with one day, it will seem more doable!
The first step starts with finding out what the heck I do with my day! Grab a new spiral notebook or journal and keep notes over several days about how you spend your time. Pay attention to any patterns. For example, do you surf the internet for a half hour every morning (or evening) while still in your jammies? Oh, I know, you were just going to check Facebook or your email! Ha! Caught-cha!
Once you’ve figured out how your time is spent, you can figure out how to maximize it. You’ll have to set aside time for important tasks and devote your attention to them completely in order to finish them. Keeping a running list of the “to-do’s” helps!
Organize each day before it begins. If you day ends at 5—before you switch gears, then at 4:45 review what needs to be done tomorrow. Knowing where your time goes and what your priorities are will be the key, both in the short term and long term. If you have something you know needs to be completed next month, planning ahead and being prepared will leave you with a sense of accomplishment and, ideally, a little free time to spend doing whatever you’d like.
If you are like me, you may feel like you don’t have a lot of time to get tasks done, let alone free time to concentrate on planning them out. But a little planning can go a long way and save you time in the long run.
Before you get into the details of what you hope to accomplish each day, think about the week ahead. Identify the priority tasks you need to tackle first, and schedule on your calendar time to focus. Your deadline might not be until month end, but if you’ve got obligations then you will need to break it down and schedule blocks of time to work on it. Be sure to structure ways to avoid distractions. It is possible. Perhaps it means putting your phone on silent and turning off notifications. You have probably spoiled your friends and contacts into responding immediately! Stop it!
Perhaps there have been times when you wish you could be two people at once, especially when scheduling conflicts arise. The best way to deal with conflicts? Avoid them altogether. You can’t control other people’s schedules, but tools like Google Calendar is a great way to merge your work and personal life. You can even have family members share their calendars with you so you can access it all in one place.
Speaking of Calendar, maybe you write everything out by hand on a giant wall calendar. Perhaps you keep an Outlook or Google calendar accessed by your smart phone. Or you might just write notes to yourself in a notebook or plaster yellow sticky notes all over your car! No matter what format you use, keeping track of your appointments and the tasks you need to complete is crucial to organizing your day. I’m finding my memory isn’t what it used to be! Creating an agenda or calendar not only makes it easier to remember, but it also gives you a record to refer to when you are looking back. This will help you to prioritize too. If something is always on your list and never goes away—maybe it is not that important—or you haven’t broken it down into manageable steps.
Set the Alarm
If you’re concerned about missing appointments or letting your time get away from you, then use the alarm on your phone. Give yourself 15-30 minutes. This will help you to change your habits and not do even one unrelated search while you are focusing on a task.
Give it a try and leave a comment!