Saturday, September 10, 2011

Organization // Time Management // List-Making

People are often amazed, curious or weirded-out by my gift of organization. Truthfully, I am not THAT organized…there is room for improvement in many areas. However,  overall I am good at it, I make it a priority and I LOVE it. I guess that’s what makes it a gift.  J

If you feel you are always falling short on organization, I want to encourage you that you can learn ways to improve. Being organized may come more naturally for me, but the basics can definitely be learned and added into your life. Hopefully I can give you some tips to help you out. And for those of you who are more organized than me (I know you are out there) please feel free to share so I can learn too!
We will start off by discussing one of the basics of time management: List-Making...

I will start by listing (J) some practical tips, and in a bonus post, you’ll get a glimpse into my day so you can see it all in action.

Here we go:

Time Management - First Things First
1)      Understand that your time does not belong to you. This will mean different things to each of us. For me, it is recognizing that the time I have in a day is given to me by God and should be used to honor God. In addition, I have my husband, family, friends, job, church, community…all of which I desire to give of my best as much as possible.

2)      Don’t forget about yourself. This may seem contradictory to #1, but it is not. There is a difference between taking care of yourself and living selfishly. I believe in self-care for the purpose of keeping myself spiritually, physically and emotionally healthy. Only then can I enjoy life and give my best to God and others.

Making a List You Can Follow:
1)      Write it all down. Whether you are starting a project, planning a vacation, or trying to organize your tomorrow, just start writing (or typing). Write down everything that you want to accomplish. It doesn’t need to be in order yet, just make sure you get it all out on paper.

2)      Determine your priorities. There will always be things on the list that are more important or more urgent than the rest. If you have trouble identifying them, ask yourself questions about each item on the list. Can this wait until tomorrow? Is someone depending on me to complete this by a certain time? Is this something I want to do, or have to do? You may want to mark the most important items so you don’t forget them.

3)      Think about who else is involved in your to-do list.  This is essential to know, so you can consider their schedules and the importance of their needs relative to yours. Maybe your coworkers are waiting for your portion of a project to be completed;  your children need help with homework; your husband needs his uniform cleaned…you get the picture.

4)      Determine how long it will take to complete a task. It doesn’t help to have 20 items on a to-do list if you can only reasonably complete 5 in a day. Be realistic about how long it takes you. If you don’t know, think about giving yourself extra time as a buffer just in case.

5)      If appropriate, consolidate your list by where you will be during the day. This tip helps if you have to be in and out of the house during the day. Group errands together by where they are in town. Plan your routes to and from work/school to include the stops you need. This saves time and gas because you aren’t zig-zagging around town, or running out multiple times.

6)      Figure out what you can multi-task. Learning how to multi-task is the best time saver. It doesn’t have to be complicated. What can you do while the laundry is going or dinner is cooking? Small, quick tasks go perfectly with “waiting on” type tasks. Or if you have to run out for errands, set something in motion at the house while you are gone. Toss a load of laundry in the washer. Start the dishwasher. Working late? Put together a crockpot meal that will be ready when you get back.

7)      Re-order your list. Now that you’ve thought through what you need to do, who is involved, how long it takes and where you need to be…you can start to re-order your list so it makes the most sense for your day or goal time-frame.

*If you are feeling overwhelmed at this point, that's ok! Just take a minute to figure out why. Maybe it's too much to think about consolidating, multi-tasking and everything else all at one time. So pick one you want to work on for this list. Next time, add another thought process. Take it slow so you get used to each method.

You may also have too much on your list. Break it down into sections (5 or 10 items) and look at one section at a time. Prioritize within each section before looking at the whole picture again. Then you can start to swap items as needed, or even plan to put some things off to the next day. Maybe you need to delegate some items or ask for help. That's ok too!

8)      Give yourself some grace. Plan some wiggle-room into your list. There are always things that come up last minute. Plan for these things to happen and you will reduce your stress!

9)      Make sure you can follow your plan. Don’t waste time making a plan if you won’t or can’t follow it. It is there to help you!  Re-think it if you need to.

10)   Do it. Get at it and check back with your list often to make sure you are doing what you planned. If necessary, switch things around.

Remember: Your list/plan is there to help you, not control you. You created it, you can adjust it, you can enjoy your life and still accomplish your goals.

Tomorrow, I will post a follow up so you can see I how I put the above tips in action today.  Now it is your turn to share. How do you plan your day? Have any list-making tips not mentioned? I’d love to read them!