Being organized and able to allocate your time efficiently brings numerous benefits. Some of the benefits include being able to focus on the things that matter most and produce great results, reduced stress and fatigue, as well as the chance to step back and take pride in a job well done.
Organization is not our quickest response to issues, many times we learn to be organized when we realize that we need to adjust and do things more effectively. Many people, myself included, have to work quite hard at being organized. But it can be achieved.
One thing that we have to talk about is the concept of being busy. Many people think that to be making good use of your time you have to be busy. However this is not true. One of my favourite quotes says that 'Direction is so much more important than speed. Many people are going nowhere, fast.' Being busy just really means that you are going up and down handling many tasks. But the more important thing is, what results are you producing. Are you being effective?
Targeted activity is what brings results. It is very possible to spend your working days scurrying around yet achieving little. Saving time and organizing yourself is all about targeting your activity instead of just 'doing more'.
Let's talk about juggling. With many different elements and tasks competing for our attention in a day, it can very well feel like juggling. If you are distracted or side-tracked by one element, it can very easily result in the detriment of the other things you are trying to balance.
Since your resources (time!) are limited, it helps when you see the big picture and apportion your resources in a thoughtful way in order to see progress in all aspects of your life.
To see how you can use your time effectively you will likely need to ask yourself the following questions.
Is your attention heavily focused on something that isn't a real priority? What is this thing?
2. Why are these aspects of my life become so demanding?
Is there a major element in your life that has recently cropped up? Why has this aspect of your life been brought to the fore?
Now look at any areas that may be neglected:
3. Are there aspects of my life that require greater attention and more time spent working on?
4. In what ways can I create balance, and start distributing my time more fairly?
When answering the above questions try to come up with realistic solutions rather than just blurry intentions.
So, as you are daily bombarded with tasks to either take on or leave, you really have to determine which tasks will take priority. One of the absolute best ways to use a bit of logic and save tremendous amounts of time is to sort out tasks on the basis of importance and urgency.
There are four categories that you have to take into consideration when you want to find your priorities:
Its quite interesting when you look at everything you have to do in this way, it's a completely new phase of organization where you take an honest look at everything and start making better decisions.
This is where we feel the greatest pressure. We may instantly think that many of our tasks are both urgent and important so this catergory may be quite hard to narrow down sometimes.
For instances, you may often find yourself being convinced by other people who insist that a particular task is urgent and needs to be carried out straight away. We may also make ourselves feel guilty, by telling ourselves that a task is urgent and important, even when it is not.
So how can you tell that a task is actually urgent and important?
An easy way is by seeing how it fits in the big picture of your life. Does the task help you realize your main objectives, or are you just putting pressure on yourself for the sake of 'getting lots done'?
Also, why is the task urgent? Is it because you have deadlines set by others? Or is the sense of urgency caused by you? Sometimes you can lessen the pressure of time when you plan properly and start work early rather that procrastinating then entering into crisis mode.
Tasks that fit into this category can often feel daunting because they normally relate to your long-term objectives, plans that are important to you, yet they don't have close deadlines.
When we have important but not urgent tasks, we have the tendency to postpone them, since no-one is going to really check up to see if we have achieved them. They are in our control, we set the pace at which we will work on them. If an important task is not urgent, you may be tempted to push it to the side for a while, in order to focus on more attractive urgent activities.
It is like planning to write a book someday versus sending an exciting or urgent email now; you are more likely to jump to the activity that you can get done quickly, rather than the weighty task that requires a lot of long-term effort.
Of course we will naturally have a tendency to focus on tasks that need to be done soon, yet always make sure to devote some time to work on your long-term goals and objectives, things that are important but not urgent. Don't endlessly postpone them until they wither and die.
Such is the fate of many life objectives that are actually quite important to us, yet we end up neglecting them. Ensure that a regular amount of time each week is spent on tasks in this category.
Urgent but trivial?
These are the tasks that can often pose a threat to your productivity, you give them a lot of attention, but they don't really take you anywhere. You need to make sure that these kinds of tasks don't take you away from more important ones.
Again, you have to consider why you view these tasks as urgent. Many times, people call a task urgent just because it exists. You may be able to eliminate some tasks from this category by simply incorporation them into a simple daily routine. On their own, they might seem pressing, but once you make time to accomplish such tasks routinely, they no longer seem so urgent.
Sometimes, it may be a matter of learning to say no when someone else proposes working on a task that is really quite unimportant. Try to understand the other person's perception of the task's importance, and direct the attention to a more vital task.
However you may also need to check your own assessment and adjust if the task really is important, although you didn't think so at first ( e.g. if your boss wants you to get something done).
Must stay away from these! These things serve no purpose but to distract you and waste your time. If the task is neither urgent nor important don't make excuses, simply move away from it and stay productive. If you're wondering where all your time went, it may be in this sneaky category.
If you want to have a day filled with great activity, try to set goals and estimate the time it takes to achieve each of them. The best way to actually complete a to-do list is by making an estimate of how long each task is going to take, then fitting that in with other commitments you may have that day.
Estimating the time it takes to get stuff done will also help you save time and organize, because you will see the free slots you have during the day. During our day we tend to have gaps that we could use effectively, such as fifteen minute or thirty minute slots. Place an appropriate task in these spots, bearing amount the amount of time really available.
Don't seek to rigidly plan out your whole day though. Your estimations should be mainly to help you get an idea of when you could do certain things. It should be a quick and simple way of giving your day shape and balance.
Whatever happens, make sure to stay flexible and deal with what the day throws at you. You will never achieve time estimation perfection. Also remember that we have a tendency to overestimate the time it takes to complete tasks we dislike and to underestimate the ones we do like doing.
Before adding a task to your schedule, take a moment to really think about what is involved, and this way you are more likely to stay free of unnecessary stress. It's not fun to discover that a task you originally thought was going to take thirty minutes turns out to take an hour.
Allow sufficient padding time for unforeseen events such as interruptions, to make sure you aren't in a rush from activity to activity. As you continue to practice time estimation and slotting tasks into hidden spaces in the day, you will get the hang of it, and it will bring you great benefits.
It brings such great satisfaction to see yourself complete a task in less than the time you expected it.
This can happen more often when you organize yourself in the ways mentioned above.
Thanks for reading!
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