Posts Tagged ‘time management’

Posted on: March 25th, 2013 by Kristi | No Comments

the non-planner datebook

What organizational product do I see the most of when I visit clients homes?  No, the answer is not calendars, planners and to-do lists.  The product I see the most of is organizing books.  The second most popular find is organizing bins.  The third is calendars, planners and to-do lists. 

Why do I find these items so frequently and in such high volume in clients homes?  The top two were no surprise to me and easy to diagnose.   

  • My clients have a stash of organizing books because they want to be organized.  They are intelligent people and sought out resources.  They eventually came to realize that they simply didn’t have the time to organize on their own, that some steps in the books were difficult to handle emotionally (if it was all about intelligence, I’d be out of a job) and that the steps in the books really weren’t made for their specific situations.  So, I get called in to plan, support and assist.   
  • My clients have a varied collection of organizing bins because they want to be organized.  They are intelligent people and sought out resources.  They eventually came to realize that without a plan, the bins simply displace the clutter.

The third was a little more difficult for me to analyze.  Why do they have so many calendars, planners and lists?  Some are blank, some are partially filled, some are new, some are years old, some are decorative, some are plain, some are small, some are large and some are even electronic.  What became clear was that none were working.  Once again, the products showed a desire to manage their time.  The products showed intelligent people that sought out solutions.  I have come to find that there is no area in which people try to fit into what is popular, current and usual more so than in the area of time management.  People tend to think that one planner or one calendar fits all.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Left-brainers may do well with a typical planner, but right-brainers are more creative and visual.  They need planners that reflect these traits.  What ever happened to writing on the back of your hand?  Well, maybe we don’t need to consider that one, but we do need to consider everything and anything until….it works!  This is one of the services I love to provide my clients.  You don’t have to use a thick planner!  You can use sticky notes, the wall, voice recorders, pictures, index cards, etc…  My August issue of Organization-411 will focus on these creative time management techniques (as well as back to school tips for the parents out there).  In the meantime, check out two of my favorite “planners” linked below.  Also, if this is an area you would like help in, time management is one of the services I provide.  We will work to find what works for YOU!


A Favorite Planner for the Creative 

Another Favorite

A Faster Way To Do Your Work

There's so much to do at work — just keeping your on top of your daily duties and keeping your boss off your back is a full-time job in and of itself! Of course, you know that you could also be more efficient and productive if you were better organized about paperwork and administrative issues — if you're ever going to get ahead, you have to find ways to accomplish routine everyday tasks faster and with less effort. The good news is that the right office systems and routines naturally make everything easier — that includes meetings, paperwork, phone calls, marketing follow-up, and data entry. You know that old saying, “A stitch in time saves nine”? Well that's what it's all about — investing a little bit of energy up front to create a system that works for you will save a lot of unnecessary work down the road!

  • set up a file box for papers that require action — “to read,” “to pay,” “to contact,” “to enter,” etc.
  • sort through your incoming mail, tossing the trash and separating “action items” from “filing”
  • file a stack of papers — any stack of papers, just pick one
  • shred a pile of “trash” papers with sensitive company information on it
  • go through your desk drawers and return excess supplies you've been “hoarding” to central storage
  • set up stacking trays on your shelves for storing different types of paper and project materials
  • set up dividers in your drawers to break out different office supplies (clips, staples, pens, etc.)
  • clean obsolete reference information out of your filing system
  • input the business contacts from your latest networking event in your address book or computer
  • input any upcoming appointments, deadlines, or other responsibilities into your calendar
  • clean out your email in-box, saving anything worth referring back to in a folder on your computer
  • make a follow-up or marketing phone call you've been putting off
  • adjust your computer monitor to the right height so you don't have to bend or strain your neck
  • adjust your chair to the right height so your feet are flat on the floor and thighs parallel
  • place your telephone is within easy reach of your non-dominant hand for easy message-taking
  • rearrange your work area so all the equipment you use regularly is situated close to your desk
  • rearrange your work area to eliminate any glare on your computer screen
  • review your calendar each evening, making yourself aware of any erely meetings or appointments
  • review your to-do list in the morning, planning what you will tackle the next day
  • clear your desk before leaving the office, so you start with a clean work surface in the morning

See how easy that was? Wink

Making Choices

Learning to keep track of commitments is a vital skill for kids to learn — but one that they don't seem to teach in school. Give your child a simple calendar, and create a daily chore for writing down every important date and to-do — soccer games, cub scout meetings, band concerts, project due dates, you name it. A review of your younger child's calendar will let you know when to send in that field trip permission slip or bake cupcakes for the class party. As your kids get older, you might use their calendar to check off completed homework assignments or keep track of shifts at their afterschool job. And when your teens get to college and are in charge of their own schedules, they will thank you for having instilled this habit in them at a young age.

Teaching your kids how to use a calendar also allows them to start prioritizing and budgeting their time — deciding which activities are really important and which ones they can live without. When your child records his upcoming plans and two items conflict, he has to make a choice. Will he be in the school play, or go on the camping trip with the church? Let your child decide and suddenly he is responsible for the consequences. But if you find that your son or daughter is constantly running into scheduling problems, it may be time to set a limit. Let your child pick a maximum of two extracurricular activities each semester. If Johnny wants to run track and sing in the chorus and be on the debate team and run the school newspaper, he will have to rotate activities — choosing his top two priorities right now and switching up next semester.

Setting Aside Regular Study Time

With everything else that fills your child's days, it's easy for homework to get the short shrift. Many times, assignments aren't done until late at night or early the next morning before school — when your kid's brain is tired and not at its sharpest. No matter how busy the day is, it's crucial that you block off a regular and consistent time for homework. Set up a disciplined study routine while your kids are young, and theywill find it easier to stay focused later on as college students andemployees in the work world.

School assignments should be completed as soon as your child gets home from class — before playtime, before dinner, every day. Shut off the television and radio, try to eliminate any distractions, and don't let the kid up until he's done! If your child has a hard time staying focused, you might need to set a timer — ask for 15 or 20 minutes of focus, then allow a short break, then back to work for another 15 or 20 minutes. Over time, your young student will find it easier and easier to keep on task — and you will have to spend less time chaperoning study sessions!

A Faster Way To Organize Your Home

There's so much to do when you're running a household — just keeping your physical space in order and making sure your family is properly fed can be a full-time job! However, most people can't (and don't want to) spend all week on chores, because they have other responsibilities to think about — so you have to find ways to make those routine everyday tasks take less time. The good news is that the right household environment naturally makes everything easier — that includes meals, getting ready in the morning, and clean-up. You know that old saying, “A stitch in time saves nine”? Well that's what it's all about — investing a little bit of energy up front to create a system that works for you will save a lot of unnecessary work down the road!

  • walk through one room in the house and put away anything that is out of place
  • set up a basket at the base / top of the stairs for items that need to go up / down
  • gather up every book in you own in one specific category (self-help, history, biography, etc.)
  • organize one grouping / category / author of books alphabetically on your shelves
  • set up your pills and vitamins for the week in a daily dosage container — AM, mid-day, PM
  • move everything  for your AM routine (coffee/tea, meds, supplements) together into one cabinet
  • group all of one kind of food (cereals, canned goods, baking items, etc.) together in your pantry
  • put all loose bulk food items in lidded containers in your pantry — don't forget to label them
  • figure out your menu for the week, including page numbers for the recipes
  • write out a grocery shopping list for the week's meals
  • chop / marinate / prep your veggies and meat (in containers in the fridge) for the week's meals
  • cook a batch of a favorite dish (spaghetti sauce, soup, lasagna, etc.) and freeze individual servings
  • rinse your dishes right after each meal to prevent food from drying and becoming stuck on them
  • choose outfits for each day of the next week, including shoes and accessories
  • separate your casual clothes from dressy, or summer from winter, or work from play in your closet
  • put all of your shoes on racks or in labeled boxes by pairs
  • set up bins for separating out “dry cleaning,” “repairs,” and “alterations” in your closet
  • break your gift wrap paper / bags / tags / bows / ribbon into separate labeled tubs
  • clear your bathroom counter of everything except what you use daily for your grooming routine
  • set up an area at each entryway where visitors can remove their shoes to keep from tracking dirt in

See how easy that was? Wink

Calculate The Financial Cost

Disorganization is an insidious but often unnoticed drain on your wallet. The money leaks start as dribbles, but over time, become a flood that sweeps you away. You can't find your electric bill to pay it until a week after the due date — 20% finance charge. You throw your mail in a pile, unopened on the desk, and an early conference registration deadline passes you by — $50 late fee. You misplace a gift card from your birthday and don't find it until it has expired — $25 you could have saved. You shove your bank statements in a drawer without looking at them and overlook an error in your last deposit — $100 lost. It's a simple equation — the more organized you are, the more money you save.

Reclaim Your Wasted Space

How often do you acquire something that you really didn't want,  need, or care about? Could be a magazine, a brochure, a free giveaway at the store — you accepted it unconsciously, now it's taking up valuable space that could be used for some better purpose. The piles are squeezing us out of home and office, and without a good system for staying on top of it all (read that as “throwing away the 90% that is junk and keeping the 10% that matters”), we quickly find ourselves buried in clutter. It's become so bad that many people buy homes larger than they need to store stuff they've never even looked at — and pay the storage industry thousands of dollars a year to babysit unopened boxes of who-knows-what. This is a serious epidemic!

Plug Any Drains In Your Time

Clutter can also be found in your schedule — this type of disorganization is particularly irritating and frustrating, because it's eating up precious minutes of your life that you can never regain. You know you're experiencing time clutter when you seem to always be running late, no matter how hard you try to get out of the house on time — when you go 90 miles an hour every day, but can't manage to get caught up — when “time wasters” like procrastination and interruptions keep you from ever completing a project — when you're always putting out fires, functioning in “reactive” mode instead of “proactive” mode — and when you can't focus on your real priorities because your to-do list is always full of busy work. It's time to get off the treadmill!

Stop Wasting Emotional Energy

How often has the stress in your life been related to disorganization? Your mood is greatly affected by how smoothly your day goes — have you ever had your entire day spin out of control because spent 20 minutes searching for your car keys or misplaced a document or were late for a meeting? It's depressing to see nothing but piles and stacks around you — the mental toll is just as great as the more tangible costs of disorganization. But once you realize how much disorganization is costing you, you have a reason to want to change. The idea of cleaning out all the clutter, setting up storage systems, and revamping your schedule may seem overwhelming — but I guarantee you that getting organized is way less challenging than continuing to attempt to function in the middle of chaos.

Keep the vision of a clutter-free and chaos-free life in front of you for motivation as you move forward with your organizing efforts. And just recognize that this is going to be a process (possibly a slow one) — it's not going to happen overnight. But if you commit to your goals and stick with it, just another small change every day, you will see progress. It's never too late to get organized!