Sometimes it can feel like we might never get caught up, and indeed, our lives may be so full that we may never get caught up. Strategizing how we are going to manage tasks and time demands can help us to remain calm and composed throughout the day. Put in a few minutes to prep in order to save yourself many more minutes later.
Here is a sampling of some techniques I’ve found useful in giving me a leg up during busy times:
1. Use the proper system for your tasks. Any task that you do routinely will likely have a timesaving system you could think of and implement. For instance you could:
- get a pill case to store medications, vitamins, and supplements you need to take in order to save yourself the stress of forgetting and to keep yourself in your best physical condition
- have a recycle bin on hand when you are sorting your mail to keep you from having to clean your mail piles down the road and to keep your surfaces clear of clutter
- have a consistent system for jotting down notes, reminders, and appointments to increase your efficiency and to decrease your error rate
- plan and pack healthy lunch snacks at the beginning of the week to make it easier for you to get out the door in the morning, to save money, and to feel well
2. Develop your own best system for handling e-mail tasks. We each have our own individual relationship with having to manage e-mail. Take a few minutes to decide what your management method could look like. Here are some suggestions:
- reply immediately to e-mails whenever possible in order to get them out of your way
- if there is a task associated with the e-mail, promptly determine a time and date for the task and enter it into your schedule or in a task management app such as Trello
- reduce the time you spend crafting your reply. Keep your message on-point, simple, and direct. By doing so, you will save the person you’re communicating with some time too.
3. Say “No” to activities that don’t fit into your schedule or that don’t align with your plans. When we act with the Fear Of Missing Out and impulsively jump in and out of activities other people think we should do, we can end up overwhelmed and unmotivated. Clear your mind by clearing the junk out of your schedule.
4. Determine what your priority and mantra for the day will be. Knowing what your single priority for the day is will help you to differentiate between good and bad decisions throughout the day. Developing a mantra or a self-encouraging statement to support that priority item can further enhance your chances of success.
To illustrate, a priority I have for tomorrow is to focus on some unfinished business for my psychology practice. Having that as my priority will allow me to steer clear of other tasks I could be doing, like checking in with social media. My mantra for keeping my eyes on my business goals might be “I’ll feel relief when these business tasks are completed.”
What will your priority and mantra look like?
5. Plan for the future in small ways. Use micro-movements to protect yourself from unneeded hassles. Some examples are:
- making sure to keep your gas tank at least a quarter full
- keeping extras of the tools and home goods you use and love the most so you don’t have to waste time running out when you run out
- communicating ahead of time about meet-ups, pickups, reservations, and events
6. Set policies and expectations for interactions in your home. There’s no reason to bicker incessantly at home, a place that should support your sense of calm. Take a few minutes to lay down some policies for things like:
- bathroom etiquette
- chore and cleaning routines
- timely, open, and honest communication and respect
7. Plan ahead. This is not an easy technique for Procrastinators, who tend to be looking at the past rather than towards the future. That is why this technique is so powerful. When we look to the future, we can sense possibility and we can have a role in creating it. Some things you can plan are:
- an exit from a not-good situation
- an exercise milestone, e.g. 6 days of exercise per month
- a meet-up date with a friend you haven’t seen in two years
- a summer getaway
I’ve put together a planning sheet to save you the time of having to make one up for yourself. The ALWAYS PREPARED planning sheet is a compilation of many of the tips I’ve listed above. It’s meant to help you save time and get organized each day, but the intention is also to remind you to do some things that will help make the tomorrow better too.
There are more techniques than there is time in the day. Choose the ones that look good to you and try them out. Develop ones of your own that suit you and bring you the most freedom and flexibility.
The more time you rescue from waste, distraction, and overwhelm, the more time you will have to savor, thrive, and enjoy the way you want to.