Time Management 101 Part 1 of 4

Greetings,

In case you haven’t heard, the holidays are upon us. Soon, we’ll be gallivanting all over town, to grandmother’s house, numerous errands to get all the goods and ingredients for all the sweet and savories and to attend parties, both for family and for work.

I’m not sure where I obtained my time management and productivity skills from but thank goodness they exist. All of us have no more time than the rest. We’ve got the same twenty four hours to get it done but some of us are a little more efficient with our time. I think that my time management skills came from all three of the VIP’s in my life, my mother went to work on time every single day, on time and still got all her wifely/mother duties done with ease. I never saw her use a calendar or write much of a list, it all just happened. Mothers are cool like that. My dad wasn’t the neatest person but he knew where EVERYTHING was on, his often cluttered (small stacks everywhere) desk. He also went to work each day, working 30 years full time for one company and he also Pastored a church an hour away from our home, for more than 25 years.

Lastly there’s my brother, he’s a military man although I would say he didn’t become really smart until he went off to the military, (don’t tell him I said that). You never think your sibling is smart till they go away and come back anyway. What mostly annoyed me is when he returned, he would always go around saying things like, “Have a plan, Tracee.” or “Be Proactive, Tracee.” (Obviously a military thing). Um, hmm, like a 17/18 year-old knew what the heck that meant. It annoyed me so I later realized that through that frustration came a bit of a new desire to really understand what the heck he was talking about, find out about being proactive and read things that showed me how to plan.

Then when I graduated from high school, somewhere along the way, I became organization and planning obsessed. It was probably always there inside me, but two things happened I think: I got my first real computer, my first year of college – it was an experience – and I was ecstatic. I was working as an intern (extended term into the winter months) for the a federal agency and at the SAME time, the second thing that happened, there was this major blizzard of 1996 where I was laid off from my government job for three ENTIRE weeks. I was 18 and I stayed up late simply because I was both snow bound and furloughed. Sometime, through the entire night for almost two weeks straight, I pretty much taught myself the computer. Being online AOL lifer here, in chat rooms, learning, reading, writing and all of that became a catalyst and launching pad to the organized, planning me I would become and love to be.

Now, don’t ask why but I’m the type that has a list for my lists. I break things down in categories and ONLY in those categories go the to-do items for each.  I could spend all day looking at planners and date books for the coming year and paper and pens of almost any kind excite me to no end. For the coming year, I decided I wanted to make my own planner and I write about that attempt in a future blog post. While there are NUMEROUS ways to plan and to organize, based on my own observations, I have come up with five tips to help you Plan and Become More Efficient in Your Time Management and thus ensuring that you can get it ALL done. Join me for the next four weeks, Time Management Tuesday!

PART ONE

Set aside time to PLAN – Of all the steps, this is the most important one. In this time, for me, once a week for just a couple of hours, I think about my week and look at my calendar and my full to-do list.

We often loose time by not really just sit down (when kids/hubby are occupied) look at your entire week and think about what could happen, what needs to happen and what MUST happen.

Placement – of things, what you need to do, returns, errands, location of your destinations. Keep like things together, in one place. You wouldn’t put the stamps near the fridge if you wrote out checks and paid bills in your office (and your office is NOT in the kitchen) would you?

List (and Listen) – You need to go somewhere you’ve never been? Instead of getting the details at the last  minute (like right before you need to leave), when you’re watching TV or walking on the treadmill, put in the various addresses for places you need to go, into your favorites on your phone. What’s the harm even if you put in an address you’re only THINKING about going, it’s still there for you should you need it. If you use a GPS, you can also put addresses in “favorites” ahead of time. That way, you have saved 5 -10 minutes entering it all. You just pull it up and off you go.

Anticipate – pitfalls, setbacks, hurdles = kid sick, pet puked, car collapsed. I once did an exercise participating in a workshop where the leader asked us to visualize a project or goal. After visualizing all the steps to attaining the goal and consequently reaching it, we pictured what was the worst possible thing that could happen? What if the entire thing fell apart? What is in your control to do? What are your next steps? How would you respond to the worst? This allows you to always come up with contingency and back up plans = equals piece of mind and a peace you can hold on to having prepared should the worst occur. If you stay ready, if you anticipate, you don’t have to (waste time) get ready.

Negotiate – this is when you start to move things around to fit the “MUST occurs” in your schedule. Ask yourself, where am I going? Then ask others like your children, husband, where are you going this week? What do you need to do? Where do we need to be? Do we need this and this for it?  After you know that, ask yourself, can I group this, with that? Can so and so do this for me instead (that’s delegating)? Can I move this to another time frame? Can it wait? This also saves time, energy and more importantly GAS.

You’re on your way. Part Two Next Week – Automate (don’t worry there’s no acronym for that one, whew!).


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