Organizing your day is really no different than organizing a junk drawer. There are only 24 hourly “slots” in a day, just like there are exactly 24 partial or complete bricks shown on this image. You only have 24 hours in a day, and you can’t really overfill it, at least not without things landing on the floor. Work pressures. Family needs. Self-care. How do you find time to fit it all in? Use these six organizing strategies for less stress and more peace in your days.
1. Decisions Are a Big Part of Organizing
Life is just a series of decisions, one after another. If you choose to stay late or take on one more project, you’re opting out of something else. Ask yourself, does it pass the Five Year Test? Is your trip to the gym and your health, or your time with your family or girlfriends, more important than this meeting/report/to do? Sometimes the answer will be yes, but not always.
2. Organize Better Boundaries
Having trouble leaving work behind? Set audible reminders in your electronic calendar at intervals leading up to your quitting time, so you get out on time. One at 4:30 (time to wrap up, make final notes, close browser windows), one at 5 PM (a reminder to have keys in hand), and one at 5:30 PM (If you are in the car, pat yourself on the back and call someone at home to tell them you are on your way). Those of us who work for ourselves can also use reminders and timers to stay on track.
3. Manage Upwards
Sometimes the stress we put on ourselves is worse than the stress others intend. Ask for a meeting with your manager to set/get expectations about workload and time. And perhaps most importantly, if they offer to let you stop doing something, LISTEN and take the chance to re-balance your workload.
4. Beat the Clock
Use technology like the TimeTimer app on desktop and mobile devices. Use it to help you see time, especially if you are a bad judge on how long you spend on something. It’s great to help meter phone calls and meetings. Use it to give yourself a sanctioned 10 minute “surfing break” without having it turn into a completely wasted morning. It’s great to help kids as young as 3 try to “beat the clock” when getting through their routines as well. Any timer will work, especially one that you always have with you, like the organizing timer on your phone.
5. Organize Less
That’s right. Spend less time organizing, and you’ll have more time in your day for projects, accomplishments, events and people. Figure out how to automate your day, reduce paper, and keep your house cleaner on a moment-by-moment basis, instead of fretting over how to get it organized. Hint: Follow along on the 31 Day Clutter-Free Living series with mini-projects that you can use as examples of systems and organized spots that you can set up in your own home.
6. Schedule Yourself First
Most importantly, put yourself first on your calendar. Fill up your calendar with your personal appointments, and make them recurring appointments on your electronic calendar whenever you can, such as for daily or weekly gym visits and social club meetings. Use the phrase, “I’m sorry, I need to get to my next appointment,” even if that appointment is for the gym. Schedule time for things that fall through the cracks, like grocery shopping, salon appointments, even date night.
Just like “paying yourself first” leads to being more in control of your money and savings, “scheduling yourself first” allows you to feel more in control of your time.
What other strategies work for you when organizing your time?
If you are committed to Clutter-Free Living, shout out in the comments which strategy works best for you, or which strategy you’d really like to nail in the coming week.