Welcome! I am excited to bring you my very first series. I think there is nothing better to keep you (and me) coming back to this blog than the promise of another post!
In order to live life organized, there are really only five things you need to learn. Easy, right? Five simple strategies that can change your cluttered life, and allow you to enjoy every minute of your day. Five simple strategies to free you from looking for your keys or your wallet, from wasting energy running to the store for forgotten items, from double booking a meeting with a lunch date, from having closets that you would be embarrassed to reveal.
Today, we are going to talk about Strategy Number One: Time Management. There are probably a thousand books written on this subject, and if you type time management into a Google search, there are about 1,330,000,000 results. Wow. I think this might be something we struggle with a little bit. So let’s dive in and see if I can help a little.
Managing your time is very important. If you know how long things take and what is coming up on your schedule, it is easier to know when to say "yes" or "no." Also, if you know your plan for the day or week, then nothing falls through the cracks.
First and foremost, you will want have a schedule. Some people are very creative and like to fly by the seat of their pants. I get that, but you can often find yourself in a situation where you can’t even be creative anymore because there are just too many things in the way. Having a schedule gives you more freedom in the long run.
It doesn’t have to be a daily, hourly schedule that is all written down to the minute. But you need to have your time planned out in some manageable way. Planning your day well can save you valuable time later on.
Every week, sit down and take a look at the upcoming week. For me, this works well on Sunday night. I sit down with my Google calendar and my planner and I figure out all of my have-to’s and want-to’s for the week. My kids have to be at school on time. I have to get groceries. I want to run. I want to have lunch with a friend. Figure out what is important. Get those things on the schedule first. Then fill in the unimportant things later. It’s sort of like that rocks-in-the-jar thing. Have you guys seen that? You know, the college professor has a giant jar, and he fills it first with sand, and then he adds little rocks, and then he tries to add the big rocks, but they don’t fit, so he starts again. This time with the big rocks, then the little rocks, and finally the sand, and then it all fits in the jar. First, I add in doctor’s appointments and meetings, then grocery shopping, then Facebook. I don’t start with Facebook.
Making lists will also help you in the long run. You will not remember everything. And even if you never forget things, you will still want to write them down. Having a list lets you stop thinking about things. It frees your mind for more useful tasks. If I know I have a bunch of errands to run, I write them all on a sticky note and then number them in an order that makes sense; for example, if things are close together in town, or if I need to get milk and then bring it home before I go out again, I can plan for that. I have ongoing lists in my smartphone of ideas I want to remember, clothes I want to buy, or things I want to pick up.
Lastly, be on time. People are late for a lot of different reasons. Poor planning, being unprepared, not caring about the time, and every now and then because of reasons you cannot control. But if you are chronically late, it is not traffic’s fault. And it is not usually because you were accomplishing some other really important task. Now there are times when you are going to be late. We all are. And that is fine; but, if it is a habit, it is something we will want to work on.
Prepare yourself to leave before you have to leave. Keep your diaper bag stocked and ready to go at all times. Keep your keys, purse, and phone in the same place every day, so you don’t waste time looking for them. Our hall closet is set up like a mudroom and holds backpacks, jackets, and other necessary things. We set up a station by our garage door that holds keys, wallets, phones, purses, planners, and anything else we need for the day. Make your lunches before bed the night before. Fill your water bottles. Lay out your clothes. Being well prepared will help you be on time.
Being on time isn't only about the drive time. If I am supposed to be somewhere at 10:00 in the morning, and the drive is usually 15 minutes, but it takes me 5 minutes to buckle the kids, and the walk from the parking lot to the office building is 5 minutes, I can’t leave at 9:50 and think I will be there on time! I have to start buckling those kids at 9:35 to give me my 15 minute drive and my 5 minute walk. It is about being prepared, and knowing how long you take to do things.
Try it my way for a week, see how it works for you. Sit down this Sunday night with a planner (or a piece of notebook paper), and plan your week ahead. Write it all down, your to-do list, your goals, your appointments, your laundry times. Think through your day, and be prepared for anything. If you are going to go grocery shopping, bring your reusable bags. If you will be gone for a while, bring a snack and a bottle of water. Finding yourself up the creek without a paddle is just bad planning. If you know you’re heading to the creek, bring your paddle, so to speak.