There are a lot of people that come to me with the desire to become more organized or more productive and ask me how they can do that. My question to them always is to first and foremost tell me about one of their days. If they spend their day in series of activities and then wonder why they haven’t accomplished much. It’s okay, we have all been there. We have all said these words?
- I don’t have enough time in a day.
- Just an hour more.
- Something always comes up and I never have enough time!
Actually, time is the same for all of us, it is relative but it can’t stop or slow down or speed up, so we all have 24hrs a day, 60 minutes and 60 seconds.
So we can agree that father time has his job to do same as we all do and it is absolutely on us to organize ourselves and find the best way to use that time. This article is here to help you find the best way to organize your life and time, according to your personality and lifestyle. But of course my friend, it will not be easy and you might think it isn’t working but the key will be to just keep going.
One thing to have in mind is that all decisions you make in a day are your own and you can bend your schedule to best fit your chores and work but at the end of the day, it is okay also if you don’t go through all your daily goals.
Good news is: it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to get organized before you start your day. Also, this is something you can do on a Sunday evening if you do not wish to waste any time on Monday.
Let’s go over what time management actually is. It is the actual management of events, chores, or work activities and generally anything we imagine we have to or want to do in that day, and actually finish everything with desired results. Meaning – successfully.
So as we said before it is not about those 24hrs a day we think is too little, but it is rather on how we use that time, that actually counts. It is all about working smarter, better and deciding what things are actually time draining.
So knowing how to organize, plan, coordinate and shape your time and your activities will be the key feature in this article. Now as I said before, this will be no easy task and it might take time to organize yourself a first few days or weeks but I know you will get there. It is about building a habit.
Organization for example actually includes more than that:
- Knowing what you want to achieve – GOALS
- Knowing how your strategy can help you – PLANS
- Knowing when to do something – PRIORITIES
So as you can see, organization includes, coordinating your time towards your schedule,
knowing how to plan your day and recognizing what can be delegated and left for later.
But before I continue I want you to know one thing: like everything in life, getting used to something and turning it into your everyday life, you have to build a habit. Meaning, for time management and organization to come naturally first you have to get used to doing this on an everyday basis. Building habits, of course, is hard and boring at first since you are literally making yourself do something until it feels strange not doing it.
How do you actually make a habit?
As I said in the previous article, first and foremost you need to know why you want to accomplish something. This will help your idea and motivation on the longer run. If you have a problem with being late to a meeting or any event then your reason might be to not look so unprofessional or to show better qualities to people from your social surroundings. Best way to have more control of your time is to make a specific time in a day for the small things you want to do but which take away a lot of time.
Take laundry for example it is just pilling up in the back sofa and you either have to wash it or iron and fold it. This is a boring chore you have to do but it is also a must if you actually want to go to work and out of the house looking decent. So put a time stamp on that chore and say you will do laundry on specific days or day of the week and say at what time.
I always like to say if it’s on a paper it’s a must. So write it down, this way you will actually make yourself do it on that day and at that time. After a while you will have a good laundry day like Sheldon. BAZINGA!
This actually works for any chore or anything you have to do during your week. It is just important to stick to this habit-making process and not give up or give yourself room to say excuses.
So what are the actual tricks that will help you manage your time better and help you organize your schedule?
Start with your goals
Before starting your day or even week, it is better if you think about daily goals and what you want to accomplish by the time that you hit the sack. All of the activities can vary from doing the simple house chores, seeing your friends and family, your boyfriend or girlfriend, to going to work and staying as productive and motivated as you can.
So put all the things you need to do on your list and start one by one until you assemble them all into a daily plan that will help you during your day. Now make a simple to see which item gets most points and goes highest on the to-do list. After that is done, remember: be adaptable – there is no need to have a strict rule to what you have to do.
I usually use the Urgent/Important Matrix by Eisenhower. Sounds fancy I know but it is the best way to make priorities of the plans during my day.
This principle teaches us a valuable lesson in time management and organization. Time stressors are some of the biggest pressures in the workplace and university, even at home. They are likely the cause of our day going south because we had way too much to do and ¨had too little time¨.
Now that we went over plans, strategies, and priorities, this technique helps you think about your priorities, and determine which of your activities are important and which are, essentially, distractions in need of letting go. You have 4 fields in this matrix, in which you can use to write down your activities each day. You can use this matrix to fill out your week or day by day, the choice is yours. An important thing here is to be honest with yourself. Some things may seem urgent and important when they aren’t.
The first square is Urgent/Important (the field that says do). Now in this field go the important activities which have an outcome that leads to us achieving our goals, so bottom line, some activities which have a high meaning for us or just simply cannot be postponed. On the other hand this field is also for the urgent activities which demand our immediate attention. They are often the ones we concentrate on because they demand attention since the consequences of not dealing with them are immediate.
The second most important square here is Important /Not urgent (the field that says Plan). These are the activities that help you achieve your personal and professional goals as I said before and that will help you complete your days’ work. On the other hand since this field doesn’t include urgent work to be done now you can take your time.
The third important square is Urgent/ Not important (the field that says Delegate). Urgent but not important tasks are things that prevent you from fixing your time management. So a good thing they offer is a chance to reschedule or delegate to someone as it is time-draining and needs to be done straight away, but you lack the motivation to do them. Of course one of the most important parts of this square is that it will teach you how to say ¨No¨ to other people. Otherwise your schedule and your activities will suffer the consequences.
Last but not least is the Not Urgent/Not important (the field that says Eliminate). In other words, these things don’t need to be in your day or week. These activities are time-consuming and a distraction – try avoiding them. If you just thought: ¨But they still need to be done¨, then think about if they maybe belong in some other field.
Learn how to say NO
Being unable to say no can make you lose time, it can stress you out and make you angry and disappointed in yourself. Now here is the deal, at this point you already know you don’t want to do something that a friend or colleague is asking for, but you are still saying yes. Why? Well lack of self-esteem, lack of confidence and the desire to please everyone just sounds so direct and ruthless, but it is also the truth. You value their time and effort more than you do your own. And this, is just plain exhausting and irritable. According to psychologists this is undermining any desire to improve your quality of life since you are overthinking about how angry you are that you promised you will do something. Your possible free time is now booked and you have no time to enjoy your well-deserved break.
A good way of buying yourself more time to say no is by postponing the answer YES to a vague: ¨I have to check my schedule today, I’ll get back to you¨ or¨I will think about it and get back to you.¨ This is letting them know you are willing to do it, but you also have to check your schedule and your own time.
Remember when saying No you are actually saying no to what they are asking you to do, you aren’t rejecting them as a person. This will help you not feel guilty at the end for saying no. It is okay to thank them for thinking you would be good for this task, but it is also okay to give them a reason why this isn’t convenient for you at this point of time.
Put a time limit on tasks
Now we have all worked for hours and hours on some tasks that just weren’t in a need of such a timeline, but somehow we procrastinated more than we worked effectively. So take another glance at the time it takes you to finish a task or a job activity and identify the tasks that take longer than you expect and try finding out where the time is slipping away.
Now, set time constraints for these activities, and you will focus more and work more efficiently and productively. This will give you the ¨importance and urgency¨ mindset that is needed to work and stay motivated without giving yourself time to procrastinate.
This is also an amazing opportunity to cut off your time wasting and time consuming activities.
Of course after all this is done you have the satisfaction of scratch off the activity you set yourself to do. This will not only give you more motivation but it will help you continue onto the next task you have ahead of you. And like so, one by one you will fill out your daily quota.