Escaping to Waldon Pond or traveling the country via RV are definitely options – but for most of us not viable ones. Minor adjustments that cumulate for noticeable change are much more desirable. A few time control techniques I’ve come to count on include:
Minimize Thrashing – Thrashing is the computer science term for when a system spends more time switching from task to task then actually working on the task. When we spend our time thinking about what we have to do, remembering where we were in the project, and then building up momentum to get results we are thrashing. Nothing is more frustrating than getting to the meat of a project and then having to stop. I have found the best way to minimize thrashing is to plan substantial chunks of time for a project. I’ll arrange my schedule to be able to commit 2 or 3 CONTINUOUS hours to the task. While it may be hard to find those uninterruptable hours it sure is worth it when the projects done!
Batching – Grouping small relatable tasks together to create an economy of scale yields tangible results as well. Large operations do it all the time – think of production lines, or accounts payable departments. I liken this to stopping for gas when the tank is 3/4 full. It’s just unnecessary. Waiting until you have an 1/8 of a tank or even when the empty light comes on (gasp) is more efficient. Batching work related tasks is more efficient too. Here are tasks I like to batch:
Be Ruthless – Saying NO to things that aren’t critical opens up space for the most important things. Sometimes getting frustrated is the best thing I can do for myself. I look at the mail and just throw all the stuff I didn’t ask for right into the big recycling can. I look at my email and delete things that just don’t matter. I go through my inbox and pull out the work that has to be done and ditch the rest. I find people are truly most effective when they remove what isn’t so important – and sometimes the only way to make a big enough impact is to be ruthless. Where can you be ruthless this week?
Try these techniques and see if things are just a bit easier. I bet you’ll say YES!
In the spirit of the New Year, I’m here to answer the burning question that you may have…sorry, it’s not the recipe to my homemade cookies…that will remain a mystery, even to my colleagues at NAPO-GPC who I have baked them for! The true question is, how long does it really take for a habit to form? Do a Google search, like I did and you’ll find many different answers. If you’re like me, you won’t get to page 2 of your search, as you just want the clear answer!
It’s the same with New Year’s resolutions. We want what we want and we want it now! Waiting is a difficult thing, in this age where technology is fast but we want it to be even faster. Frustrations abound when there isn’t any instant gratification and hence people give their resolutions up so quickly.
So, what is that answer to: how long does it really take for a habit to form? Well, honestly, there isn’t a magic number. The consensus from the Google answers is that it takes between 21 and 28 days. I know, that can seem daunting, but there are ways to keep your goals and still have fun.
When it comes to organizing, (and I’m assuming that’s one of your goals because you are reading a blog on a site in which we help people get organized!) start small. Have you heard the quote from Francis of Assisi, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”? If you push yourself and do too much before you’re ready for it, then you may feel like giving up. Try these simple methods to help you get organized a little bit every day, when you might not even think to, so that before you know it, it may just become your favorite habit! Well, a close second, maybe? Ha ha!
1) TV Commercial Breaks – Use these 2-3 minute chunks of time during your favorite shows to organize a shelf or a drawer.
2) On a Phone Call – You know those people in your life who just like to talk your ear off on the phone! You don’t need to neglect them, just put the caller on speakerphone and you have your hands free to straighten up a closet, hang up clothes or put away laundry.
3) While Cooking Dinner – Use this time to straighten up your kitchen counters and go through junk mail.
4) Just pick any time! Use a timer, either a good old kitchen timer or the one from your smart phone and set it for 15 minutes. See what you can get done in that time in the area of your choice and if you feel motivated to do more, then do it! If not, then don’t!
One final tip is to keep a tote or basket handy, in a central location, for each member of the household. As you are organizing, you are bound to find items that belong to others in their bedrooms or in other rooms. Once a day, make sure that the items from the basket are brought to each respective area by the person it belongs to. With the new tips you’ve learned, you can teach everyone else in the family how to organize just a “bite” at a time too!
Did you ever wonder how Santa gets so much done? The secret to his success is making lists and checking them twice.
Why are lists beneficial?
– Getting the ideas out of your head helps you to think more clearly
– Writing (or typing) encourages a commitment to follow through
– Reviewing lists makes prioritizing tasks easier
– Categorizing tasks and listing baby steps help to prevent overwhelm
There’s much to be done during the holidays and lists can be a lifesaver. The information is valuable for the current year and a great reference for holidays to come. Create a holiday journal or use software, such as Excel spreadsheets, to stay on top of your tasks. If others you live with use your computer, set up a password for the electronic document to keep gift-giving ideas a secret.
What to keep track of:
– A timeline, by week, with what you plan on accomplishing, and when
– A holiday card or eCard list – noting which style card you sent
– Decorating – themes, details, etc.
– Gifts – people and charities and what you plan to give
– A shopping list – include stores, eRetailers and what you hope to purchase
– Party planning – menus, guests, grocery lists, etc.
– Post-holiday review – note what worked and what didn’t
May this be a low-stress holiday season filled with high joy; and may you accomplish your goals with clarity and ease.
October twelfth marks Christopher Columbus’ birthday. He set out to discover new Trade Routes to Asia, but ended up in the Caribbean. Roadblocks and mistakes diverted his initial path and his journey took longer than expected. He kept going – always moving forward – closer to his target (even when his target changed). This concept of forward momentum is very important in life – so is setting goals. Goals provide motivation. Motivation keeps us taking steps.
If we use Columbus’ journey as our Goal Setting Road Map we learn to:
Take organizational goals: Sometimes your goal is to reclaim space in a spare bedroom. You think the only way to achieve that is to empty the whole room and start from scratch. But, as you work, you realize it’s actually the corner where the bills get paid that mucks up the process. You notice that entering the room facing the ironing board is depressing; small shifts in orienting stuff can make a huge difference. Or let’s say you are overwhelmed with family photos and you want to ‘organize them.’ Your first goal might be to store them in photo safe boxes. Along the way you decide to scan a portion and preserve them electronically as a screen-saver montage. While sorting sentimental batches you get caught up reconnecting with family. That’s okay if you stick with the goal of getting the photos organized and continue to weed out the unnecessary shots. As long as you do something with the photos you want to save, you are still moving forward.
In setting goals, you will have to plan a route to achieve success.
You will want to find like-minded travelers along the road.
When you get stuck, don’t get discouraged… stay focused and keep your eyes on the horizon.
Amaze yourself with what you discover!
Everyone procrastinates sometimes. It only becomes problematic when procrastination is the norm. Reasons for procrastination include perfectionism, overwhelm, over-analysis, and lack of planning. What can you do when you have a project that needs to get done?
Clear the Decks:
Make a Plan:
Make it Fun: