Organising your time - its time to decide
I love this quote from Seth Godin. Every time I start to feel overwhelmed with my workload, I like to reflect on it and assess what decisions I need to make about my time.
Organising the time we do have is often the solution when we find ourselves saying “I just need more time”. There are five key areas you can look at to see if you are organising your time as effectively as you could be:
Know what you want
Have you set yourself goals for the year? Have you outlined what is exactly that you want to achieve and do with your time? If you do manage to catch a couple of hours free by yourself, do you know how you would spend it?
If you haven’t set goals before, start by simply writing down a few specific goals for the key areas of your life that you would like to achieve by the end of the year, like:
- Me - what do I want for myself? Do I want to learn a new skill? Do I want to start exercising? Do I want to join a book group?
- Family – as a family what would I like us to do over the next couple of months? Do I want us to get outside more? Do I want us to eat together regularly?
- Partner – successful relationships require time and commitment. What do I want to do with my partner over the next couple of months to enhance our relationship?
- Work – do I want to return to work? Do I want to change jobs? Do I want to set up my own business?
Writing down the key activities you would like to undertake with your time makes them more tangible. It means you can share them with your family and friends, to get them on board as well. Often you need to work with others or bring them along with you so you can work towards your goals and communication is important. Also by writing them down you can then display them prominently as a reminder and to keep you accountable.
We most often associate routines with kids and know the day can run smoother if kids have routines to follow. Routines can work just as well for adults in making the day run smoother and help organise your time more efficiently. When you have a to-do-list that is as long as your arm, you can get hit by paralysis – not doing anything because you don’t even know where to start!
Many of the tasks on the list are likely to be regular activities for the house. If you slot these regular tasks into key times across your day, so you have a prompt to do them, it can give you a place to start your to-do-list. Once started it is much easier than to work through the to-do-list. For example, when you get back in from taking the kids to school each day, allocate a 15 minutes task specific to each day. Mondays it might be putting on a load of washing, Tuesdays it could be to give the bathroom a quick wipe down, etc.
Or it could be when you get in from work at night that you have a key task that needs to be done first each evening. It doesn’t matter when it is across the day, as long as it is a consistent time that you can cue in to and kick-start your to list.
Know your distractions
We all have them. The little interests that we love, that we think will just be a quick 5 – 10 minute exercise that can end up losing us an hour. Mine is Pinterest! I love it and I find it relaxing and enjoyable to look at all the pictorial inspiration. A quick look on my iPhone can easily turn into 30 minutes quicker than I can say “inspirational quote”!
Rather than deprive myself of looking at and enjoying Pinterest, I allow myself 15 minutes a day after lunch to explore. I set my alarm on my phone so it will go off and interrupt my session. I then need to move on to putting the preschooler down for his afternoon sleep. This is a big incentive to get off my “distraction” as I need to get him down to sleep so he has enough rest before school pick up and I can have some quiet time pottering around the house or working depending on what day it is.
Be aware of your distractions and find a time in your day where you can allow yourself some time to indulge, but at time where you will be limited to how long you can spend on it.
Enjoy where you spend your time
You are far more likely to be productive when you are happy and enjoying yourself. Make sure that you have room in your week to enjoy the small moments, where you can be solely focused on the moment and not worrying about the 15 other items on your to do list.
Avoid over scheduling yourself so simple tasks become stressful. Turn off technology, phones and other interruptions when you can, to allow yourself to have moments where you are free from the bombardment of incoming news. It can take a little to get used to switching off, but you will find it will give you much greater enjoyment throughout the week and allow you to better focus on the task at hand.
I know this is one people don’t necessarily like to read. Often we want some great app, to-do-list, or fancy planner, to help us get organised so we can fit everything into our days that we want to. Tools can help us get organised and in future posts I will share some of my favourites, but the biggest factor in organising your time is being disciplined. Disciplined in:
- Working towards your goals and keeping focused on the end result.
- Sticking to a routine so you can fit in the activities that mean the most to you.
- Knowing that you can’t always accept every invitation you receive and fit in into your calendar.
- Limiting the time you spend on your favourite distractions.
- Switching off from technology and unplugging for periods across your week.
- Accepting sometimes you have to make short-term sacrifices for a better long-term result.
You don’t need more time…you just need to decide.
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This article was written by Nicole Avery for Kidspot.com.au and has been adapted for Kidspot.co.nz