All of your expenses have been reported. Your desk is clutter-free. Receipts have been scanned or mailed to the good folks at Shoeboxed.com. Heck, even your computer’s desktop is pristine! Now if only you could find the time to, like, eat something. Or go on a date. If your physical environment is impeccably coordinated, but you can’t seem to get organized when it comes to your schedule, try incorporating a few of these handy time management tricks into the mix.
1. Give up
You’re never going to get it all done. The old adage about not dying with an empty inbox is true. Have you noticed how when you finally manage to ‘get it all done,’ the next task or project pops right up in its place? Accepting this fact, and expecting it, brings the kind of relaxed peace of mind that will help you get organized and enjoy your time while doing so.
2. Protect your Space
In your efforts to be accommodating or to get as much done as possible, you might allow others to interrupt you while you’re working, flit from one task to another, and get easily distracted as issues arise throughout the day. Get organized by getting protective of your time. Let co-workers or family members know you’ll be unreachable during certain times of the day, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes. You can also include your time constraints in your email signature, indicating how often and when you check your email. By letting others know you don’t check email after, say, 4pm, you’re off the hook until the next day, and you won’t feel guilty about not answering immediately.
3. Make Room for Problems
As you plan your day, schedule in some time for the unexpected. The only thing worse than packing your day with back-to-back tasks is not anticipating the inevitable surprises that are sure to arise. If you have a thirty minute video conference scheduled, give yourself a minimum fifteen minute time bubble to account for technical difficulties, tardiness, or other mishaps. Scheduling your to-do list first thing in the morning, and allowing more time than you think you need to complete each task, is a great way to get organized. You might even be able to take a lunch on your lunch break.
4. Get still
You don’t necessarily have to be typing, filing, or talking in order to be working. Time spent brainstorming, thinking, or taking a few deep breaths is just as valuable as the subsequent work that results. When scheduling your day, give yourself a few minutes every hour to step away from the computer, stretch, meditate, and get organized mentally. When you do go back to work, you’ll be refreshed and inspired to tackle whatever is next on your list.
Set a specific quitting time that you’ll stick to, no matter what. Get the most important things finished earlier in the day, so when it’s time to go home, whatever’s left to be done can wait until tomorrow. Knowing that it’s not all going to get done today, and having a specific quitting time to look forward to, will do wonders for your organization and productivity.