HOW TO MAKE TIME
By Kennan Knudson,
Taking a day or two to organize your life will let you clear time for the things you want to be doing. Here are getting-started suggestions for the well-intentioned but organizationally challenged.
STOP DOING IT ALL
Quoted: "You'd be surprised at the number of people there are who are capable of doing things." Michelle Walsh.
Children, especially, are good at "upward delegation" (trying to get out of a job). Practice saying, "I'm sure you'll figure it out" then leave the room.
Maybe one of your co-workers doesn't mind scheduling, but hates billing. Daughter Jill thinks taking out the garbage is gross, but will do anything if it involves a spray bottle. Assign jobs accordingly, and the odds of the tasks being accomplished with a minimum of reminding are much better.
When faced with a request to take on an additional task, "I'm sorry, but I really don't have time to do that right now," is a perfectly acceptable response. If you just can't make yourself say it, schedule appointments with yourself several times a week. If asked to do something during those times, say "I'm sorry, I have an appointment then." Which is true.
Tip: Save time by stopping the reply cycle end messages with "No reply necessary" or "unless I hear back, I'll assume you approve."
First thing in the morning, list all the things you need to accomplish. This is easiest with the aid of a calendar/planner.
Plan play time as carefully as work time. If you've specifically scheduled a fun activity, you're less likely to let work time bleed into time with family, a significant other or yourself.
Download your mind write stuff down! Having schedules, phone numbers, etc., in a central location allows you to stop worrying about remembering and concentrate on something else.
Did you know? Americans waste an estimated 9 million hours a day looking for misplaced items.
Make a list of frustrations with any given space, such as "The kitchen counter is always cluttered" or "I'm always losing my keys."
Pick one area to start with. Ask yourself, "What needs to happen in this area?" Then gather everything you use to accomplish those tasks. Stuff that doesn't belong needs to be relocated to a more convenient area, or thrown away.
Once you know exactly what you need to store in the area, buy or build a storage container that both fits in your available space and stores what you need it to.
THE DESK MESS
Create a "Command File" with folders of bills to pay, phone lists, sports schedules, take-out menus and other vitals.
Organize your desk by convenience the A, B and C areas.
1) The A area is within your reach. This is where you keep things you use constantly: the Command File, pens, Post-its, etc.
2) The B area is within a chair's roll. Here you keep things you use almost every day.
3) The C area is for less-frequently used items like reference materials. By getting the C stuff out of the A area, you can save yourself 10 trips across the room to get the scissors.
Once you have a basic structure of organization, just 15 minutes a day can keep the desk mess under control.
STACKS OF FRUSTRATION
Tip: Reduce paper inflow throw away junk mail before you put it down. Save only the stuff you really need.
Create four boxes, labeled accordingly, and attack the stack with a merciless mercenary attitude. Before putting a document in the Read or Retain boxes, ask yourself hard questions like, "Why should I keep it?" If the answer is "well, I should read this article," it's time to toss it. (FYI: If the answer is, "The IRS will want this," you should keep it.)
If you absolutely can't throw away that magazine with the interesting-looking article, at least reduce the volume: Tear out the specific article, and recycle the rest. Put the article in a file that you carry with you, to read next time you're waiting at the doctor's office.
Open bills, put them in a "to-pay" file, and throw away the envelope immediately.
For more information on organizational strategies and attitudes, try: "Organizing from the Inside Out" (Owl Books, $15) by Julie Morgenstern or "Confessions of a Happily Organized Family" (Betterway Books, $13).
Illustrations by Boo Davis, Seattle Times staff artist
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