How to Organize Your Time So Life Feels Manageable

Not Enough TimeDo you often feel rushed, behind, like you’re not getting the most important things done, or you’re always tired? That’s a sign that you need to organize your time in the same way that you would organize your space.

Time management is just like space management. There’s only so much of it and you’ve got to figure out what fits.  When you have more on your to do list than can reasonably fit into an hour (or a day, week, or month), your time is cluttered. This is the same syndrome that people
with space organizing problems have.  Too much stuff. It’s just harder to recognize because time commitments don’t clutter up our closets.

 

How do you organize time?

First, you’ve got to figure out what’s filling it up. Spend a week tracking your time. All of your time. Days get cluttered when you’re not accounting for all of what you have to do, including the transitions and the to do’s. All those five minute tasks or 15 minute errands add up to a lot of time that’s not scheduled anywhere.

Most people put their appointments on the calendar, but don’t include the drive time to and from the appointment. Likewise, you might be trying to get eight hours of sleep a night, but aren’t considering how long it takes to get ready to go to bed. This might include dishes, getting water, pajamas, teeth brushing, and reading before you’re settled down enough to fall asleep.  When you’re trying to organize your time, you must see how you’re spending it.

Declutter:

Once you know where your time is going, the next step is to declutter. With things you have control over, cut down or eliminate what’s cluttering up your schedule. Social media and TV are often at the top of people’s lists when they think about what they should eliminate, but that’s not your only option. It could be that you spend a whole lot of your day in fifteen minute drives to run errands. Because you’re doing them on different days, you’re not aware of how long it’s actually taking. You can’t control traffic, but you can see about driving a little earlier or later to miss the worst commute times. You might even decide you want to move closer to work or your kid’s school, or join a gym that’s closer to your home. While awareness and decluttering may not fix all of your time troubles, they’ll get you to the point where you spend time more consciously and can organize it better.

Organize:

Put your to-do’s on your calendar just as you would an appointment. This makes a greater impact on your time management than any other strategy besides getting rid of the commitment itself. Pick a day of the week where you write down your to-do’s and consider when (and if) they should happen.

  • What day(s) do you want to do laundry, make grocery lists, go shopping? Think about the flow of your week and your energy. Consider when traffic is busiest or the stores are more or less full.  All of those decisions impact how long something takes.
  • What can be combined into one trip or day? Can you go by the grocery store on the way home from ya weekly class so that you don’t have to make an extra trip? That might save 30 minutes of drive time that you desperately need for something else.
  • Besides scheduling when you will get things, consider what can be done by someone else. Can family members share the responsibility for tasks? Could you combine forces with others by carpooling or joining a food co-op so you have less meal prep? Might you hire some things out, like having a housekeeper come or letting Instacart do your shopping and driving for you?

Design:

Next, make an appointment for your to do’s. Put them on your calendar. If you use a phone or computer for your calendar, add a reminder alert so that you’ll remember your time commitments, and so that you can reschedule them if you need to.Appointments on your calendars aren’t just for what you have to do. Make appointments for what you want to do too. Are you living the life you want? Are you getting to what’s important?  Will you look back at your life and be happy with how you spent your time? If you would like a copy of the planner pages I’ve created with to-do lists and calendars combined, email me and I’ll be happy to share them with you.

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