Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Stay Organized, Stay Sane

My brother so kindly modeled his fine timepiece for me. Thanks, John!

You've heard that time is money, but even if time isn't money, it's like money. If you were missing $200, you would be concerned, so why is it that there are so many hours unaccounted for and no one seems to notice? Just like not managing your money can get you into financial trouble, not managing your time will get you into a stressful situation. Here are my five tips for time management. 

1. Plan, Prioritize, Plan - If I know that I have a lot to get done in varying time frames, which is pretty much all the time, I immediately start planning. I usually plan and prioritize in three stages: Monthly, weekly, and daily. I start by looking at the next month and seeing what deadlines and events I have coming up that are immovable. After taking note of these deadlines, I start filling in the gaps from there. I then do a weekly check-in to see what needs to be adjusted, and again on a daily level. My daily planning is usually where I make the most changes because, let's be honest, things happen. Rarely do ever get my entire daily list done on the day that I made it. However, it's still important to have a list of goals and to just do as much as you can. And who knows, you might actually be surprised at what you can do in a day if you stay focused. Whatever I don't get done that day rolls over to the next where it goes up in importance on the list.  

I learned this strategy in college when I started planning sleep in advance so that I knew exactly what I was supposed to do and when to do it. That might sound a little crazy, but because I planned everything in advance, I not only got everything done on time, I had enough energy to do it well. I also had more opportunities to do things that I wanted to do because I could see every bit of open time in my schedule. That meant more fun activities and less mindless social media scrolling.  

2. Invest in a good planner - Get one and take it everywhere. Include a nice pen, or even better, several pens in a variety or your favorite colors, because color coding is GREAT and fun if that's your thing. A planner is where you will turn your monthly, weekly, and daily planning into visual art. It's great because it transforms the idea of time from something abstract to something concrete. Time becomes a visual grid where days and hours are like boxes that you can put things in. Again, sounds crazy and boring, but when you fill all your necessary boxes, you might see a lot more empty boxes than you thought you had. It's a great feeling when you realize that you can fill these leftover boxes with whatever you want. FREE TIME sounds nice and not boring. Here is a great experiment to give you a visual on this concept. 

3. Planning Apps - Maybe pens and paper isn't your style. That's ok because there are a lot of apps that basically do the same thing and most of them are free. I'm a paper-in-hand kind of person, but I have recently been using my iPad for most of my planning. I use a list making app called Do a lot. When you cross something off, it makes this great scribble sound that is weirdly satisfying. Don't judge my love for the scribble. 

4. Rest - In order to function well, you have to rest. This means that at some point you are going to have to accept that you can't do everything and let go of things that didn't get crossed off your list for the day. Getting into a rest mindset is very important when you have down time. Don't take a break and then spend the whole time worrying about what you are not getting done. Your brain will feel like it was working the whole time during your rest period and you won't be able to use that time to recharge. It seems redundant, but it's not rest unless you actually rest.  
 This is where scheduling sleep or rest comes in handy. You can make taking a nap something to cross off on your to-do list. It still feels productive if you know that it's important for your well-being, productivity, and sanity. Also you get to hear one more scribble sound, and who doesn't want that? 

5. Go the extra mile - Now that you are organized, rested, know what needs to be done, and have the tools to do it, go be productive and start procrastinating less, start a new hobby, or just start enjoying your busy life with significantly less stress. 

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Naomi Pitts said...

Goodness, yes, time is so precious. I've been guilty of spoiling it, I assure you, and I always feel SO bad afterwards - can't even tell you how bad.
I think To-Do lists help me so well - the encouragement of ticking off stuff is so fulfilling. :-)
Great Post, Sarahè

Naomi Pitts said...

Sorry, I don't know why I added the weird e to your name. :-P