Learning proper time management techniques will help you to control and useyour time efficiently. The problem is deciding which time management techniquesare going to work best for you. Talk to any Professional Organizer, and heor she will tell you that the best time management techniques instruct youon how to make room for the “want to’s” as well as the “have to’s”. The problemis that many of us are in a state of extreme overwhelm and don’t have enoughenergy left over for higher priorities in life. Fortunately, it’s easy toregain control over the daily grind with a few good time management techniques.Let’s start by examining the way you deal with routine to-do’s.
Time Management Technique #1: Manage the Incoming Flood
When you receive a piece of paper that requires some action on your part,what do you do first? Put it in a stack on your desk of miscellaneous “thingsto do” where it will sit for weeks or months, until you receive another pieceof paper reminding you about that to-do that you forgot? If you just takea second to get organized when a new document first enters your life, youcan almost guarantee that “to-do” will get done on time.
Time Management Technique #2: Decide Where to Put Things
Start by sorting your to-do’s according to the action required. Each day,take 5 minutes to go through the day’s incoming mail / work papers / schoolpapers / etc. – ask yourself what you need to do with each item, thenfile that document in the appropriate “action file”, based on your answer.Your action files should sit out in a file box or rack, placed in plain view,wherever you go through your mail. It will include categories like:
- “to pay”
- “to file”
- “to contact”
- “to buy”
- “to read”
- “to enter in computer”
- “to reconcile”
- “to give to _________”
You can also put handwritten notes into your folders (ex: a list of peopleto call in the “to contact” file) if a to-do doesn’t come with a correspondingpiece of paper. Now each document has a set place to live until you tackleit, and you can easily see exactly what types of to-do’s are on your plate.
Time Management Technique #3: Get it all done
So how do you make sure that these action items actually get acted on? Don’twait until you have time. You must make time. Schedule a regularweekly appointment with yourself – maybe an hour or two, once or twice a week– and block off that slot for “admin time”. During admin time, your goal isto go through each folder in order and try to complete every item inside.If you can’t complete that item for some reason, put it back in the folderand tackle it during your next admin period. And if you finish one step (say,paying a bill), but then realize that you have another step to take with thatpaper (perhaps calling to correct a billing error), move it to the appropriatefolder for that next step.
Time Management Technique #4: Deal with Deadlines
You will, occasionally, run into to-do’s that have very strict deadlines– bills to pay, registering for a conference, sending in a permission slipfor your kid’s field trip, disputing a charge on your credit card, etc. Asyou sort through incoming paperwork, note any item that has a specific duedate (especially if it is going to arrive before your next admin day), andrecord it in your calendar – along with a note of the folder in which thatdocument is stored. These tasks are to be taken care of as part of your routinethat day – treat them as a priority and get them done first thing in the morning,before you get busy or distracted.
Time Management Technique #5: Relax!
If you follow this system, you will have no reason to miss a deadline orpay a bill late – and you don’t have to continually worry, “When will I getit all done”, because you know that any to-do’s will be taken care of duringyour next regular admin period.