Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Thoughts on Time Part 5

Alright friends, today's the last day of my series on time management and it is a long one- but it's worth it! I know I've learned a lot, have you? Well, today I have four simple tips that are usually reserved for organizing and decluttering projects that are, in fact, extremely helpful for time management. But I also have a breakdown of how to apply everything we've learned so far. So, without further we go!

#1. Group like with like.

This helps not only with organizing your stuff, but also with your tasks. Instead of running errands on different ends of the planet all the time, group tasks, chores and errands into categories. I also like to plan a route so that I a) save gas b) save money c) save time d) save my sanity. Keep this in your mind, there will be a visual example at the end of the post!

#2. Divide and conquer!

As with grouping like with like, dividing tasks into workable groups or sub-groups helps to take huge chunks out of your list with far greater ease than if you just made the list and started going with bullet point number one and worked your way down. Threes work for me. Three types of things that need to get done. I can look at that and take whatever is in the group I choose first and knock it out. Keep this in your head too, kiddos! It's all going to be revealed to you visually shortly.

#3. Handle things once.

This has been a huge help to me. I had a boss say it at work almost ten years ago and it has stuck with me. I've always been kind of a walks-in-circles kind of person. I live a lot in my head and when I get overstimulated especially I have a tendency to wander. It's taken a lot of hard work to teach myself to just pick that thing up and put it away where it belongs and be done with hit. In the past I would have carried it through every room of the house before I found a place that didn't bug me as much. It works with possessions, paperwork, and especially tasks on your to-do list. If you sit down and dedicate a given amount of time to a task and just get it done, it won't haunt you or grow bigger or nag you and make you feel bad or overwhelmed. It will have simply been handled, once. Handling something once can be done every day too. So instead of checking emails 34 times a day, do it once at a given time...period. Unbelievable time saved.

#4. Ruthlessly cut away the unimportant.

I've touched on this a bit when I explained time thieves. However, a lot of unimportant things occupy our "to-do" lists. There are a million things we all do that aren't necessary but for some reason we still waste/piddle time away doing them! Think back to that time audit you did...where is your time going? What are the things that are unnecessary, outdated, annoying, or unimportant that you could cut from your life?

I know I waste time complaining about work. If I added up all the time I spend in a week bitching about stuff that happened at work and put it toward learning to sew (something I've longed to master for years), I'd be making a garment or decorative pillow a week (and I'm not kidding)! Or I could have put out a dozen more applications for another job in the meantime until my creative things take off more. I have to learn to cut the unimportant things too. We all do.
So that brings me to a visual example of all the things that I have talked about these three weeks. Here's the summary:

1. Time management is energy management. AKA, Know thyself.
2. Develop a sleep routine and start getting to bed (and waking up) earlier. It's what the cool kids are doing.
3. Use the concept of "control" a little more wisely. Time management is about working smarter, not adding more stuff to do so you have no peace. Peace and joy are the goals here, people!

4. Write everything down and utilize a calendar. 
5. Determine what is urgent vs. what is personal priority.
6. Get the no-fun stuff done first, freeing up more time for the stuff that makes you happy and fulfills you!

7. Plan. Plan for tomorrow, then have a contingency plan (or two).
8. Delegate.
9. Learn to say "No."

10. Eliminate (or greatly reduce) distractions.
11. Be aware of your time thieves.
12. Focus on the tasks that will accomplish the most (the Pareto Principle).

13. Do a time audit. See where your time really goes (be honest!).
14. Learn how long it takes you to accomplish your tasks and be real about that too.
15. Schedule time to relax. Leave room for the joys of life!

16. Group like with like. 
17. Divide & conquer!
18. Handle things once. Even if its every day.
19. Ruthlessly cut away the unimportant. 

Here's a to-do list for my day off as an example. Before time management and after...

1. grocery shop for the week (U)
2. do laundry (U)
3. get oil changed in car (U)
4. write blog posts for Monday and Tuesday. (PP)
5. make dinner (U)
6. pick up Mom's birthday gift (PP)
7. get hair cut (PP)
8. check emails and respond (U)
9. clean upstairs bathroom (full clean) (U)
10. wash the pup (PP)
11. call out of town friend to catch up (PP)
12. work on sewing project (STG)
13. call Credit Union with questions about IRA. (LTG)

I went ahead and added identifiers to the list to immediately indicate which items are urgent, which are personal priorities, and which were either short-tern or long-term goals. 

Morning: Out of house errands (arranged in a horseshoe/circular pattern so the first and last tasks are closest to home). Starting at 8:30 a.m.:
1. get oil changed and use the wait time to...
     *call CU with IRA ?'s (should take 5 minutes). 
     *call out of town friend to quickly catch up (5-10 minutes).
2. get hair cut
3. pick up Mom's birthday gift.
4. grocery shop for the week (30-45 minutes).

Early afternoon: In-house tasks. Starting around 12:15 p.m.:
5. start first load of laundry and...
6. prep food and snacks for dinner and lunches (30-45 minutes)
     *switch out laundry and...
7. assemble dinner in the crock pot or oven 
     *switch out laundry and put away. (30-45 minutes)
8.while upstairs and laundry is put away...
     *use the time upstairs to clean the bathroom (takes 30 minutes for full clean).

Late afternoon: In-house tasks:
9. check emails and respond while last load of laundry dries. (30 minutes or so).
10. work on Monday and Tuesday's blogs (30 minutes for Monday & 15 for Tuesday). 
11. Finish up the last of the laundry and put away. (30-45 minutes)

You are done. It's about 4:35 p.m. and the rest of the night is free to do what makes me happy like work on that sewing project I've been wanting to do or getting in a little yoga. I can have New Girl or The Mindy Project streaming in the background as I do so too! The things that make me truly happy get a chance now, all because I got all that no-fun and urgent stuff out of the way in a well-thought out manner. I bet you'd feel better with those big, urgent ones out of the way as well as those personal priorities too.

Do you think you'll use any of these ideas? I know I have been incorporating them bit by bit every day. I hope this series has helped, y'all! And I hope you have a truly wonderful day!

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