AUTOPILOT REVISITED

He’s back:

Remember my post about developing habits to help you get through your days quicker and easier? http://www.janchristensen.com/is-habit-destiny/

Well, here are a few more thoughts about fine-tuning your schedule.

1.     Have a routine for checking your notes, calendar and to-do lists every day.

2.     For major projects, don’t list on your to-do list more than three to five actions related to the ones you’re going to tackle that day.

3.     Prioritize your goals on your list, not just in your head.

4.     Take items off your lists that are no longer necessary or desired, even if you haven’t finished them. It’s surprising how many of us leave things on there that no longer interest us or that we haven’t a prayer of accomplishing. They just clutter lists up and can make you feel discouraged.

Realize that you cannot always, get everything done that’s on your to-do list every day. Hardly anyone ever does. This will eliminate a lot of stress.

And finally, effective time management uses the great in-and-out system;

Try not to take on a new task before an old one is finished.

This works on so many levels—Before bringing in a new food product, new clothing, new decorations, new project, new anything, get rid of something else. You whole life will be less cluttered.

And your time will be more easily managed.

START YOUR DAYS STRONG

A frequent and probably one of the most valuable tips about getting things done is to start your day with the most important tasks (especially if you’re a morning person) or the most disliked tasks.

Before you start on your tasks each day, though, it’s a good idea to check:

·       Your notes – Run through your notes. You made them for a reason, so be sure to check them every morning.  Put your appointments on your calendar, your chores on your to-do list, and your long-term goals on your bucket list.

Then check:

·       Your calendar. See what’s up for the day and for the coming week or two.

·       Your to-do list. Have tasks front and center. If you see them often, you are more likely to get them done. This list is there to remind you of what you need to do soon.

·       Your bucket list. Maybe you can do part of a project this week. If you don’t think about them they’ll never get done.

·       Your inboxes, both virtual and actual. Save them for last. A lot of them will include requests from other people, and if you handle them first, you might get lost in the forest and not get your own trees taken care of. However, if you can start your day with your inboxes empty, you’ll be ahead for the rest of the day and will be motivated to get even more done. But again, be sure not to get caught up in other things. Move chores from there to your to-do list or calendar, or take notes. But unless it’s an emergency, get going on what you had planned for the day first.

Isn’t it a great feeling to be in control and have a plan? I thought so. Enjoy your day!

WHEN ONE IS ENOUGH

Time management is tough. Picking the right tools can take some time because everyone is different. Some swear by paper and pen. Some won’t go anywhere or do anything without having and constantly checking their smart phones. Some use paper for some things and a personal digital assistant  (PDA) or smart phone for others.

The three essentials are a calendar, a to-do list, and a way to keep notes.

 And most important of all is to only have one of each that you carry with you at all times. The only possible exception is the calendar—you might have one you carry, and one at the office and one at home for everyone to look at and add their own items. But you have to be very careful to update everything at least once or twice a day if you have extras. If you can get everyone onboard, you could also use Google Calendar in “the cloud.” And if only you need to use it, that’s a great option if you’re on-line line a lot and have a smart phone to access it.

Pick each tool with care. Then stay with it. Once you’re used to your system, it will probably take more time to switch to another than you’ll save. The plus side is you’ll both feel and be more organized with those three essential tools.

LET’S GET ORGANIZED

Organization takes planning. To plan, you need a few tools. For me, the most basic are a calendar/planner, some small, legal-sized notebooks and a pen.

When buying a planner, I’d look for a binder that holds both a yearly calendar with blocks on each day to write in, plus a few pockets for miscellaneous pieces of paper and some of your business cards, and, very important, a place for a small legal pad. If you can’t find anything like that, you’ll have to stick with a separate calendar/planner and some small legal size pads.

The calendar part of planning is obvious. Put down appointments and other important things you have to do each day. Another trick is, at the end of the day, write one line about the most significant thing you did. You can keep these as a kind of quick and dirty diary to look back at, if needed, or if interested, later on.

The notepads can have a cover or not. Have one for each project. Right now I have:

  • One for daily stuff—to-do lists, to-buy lists, notes about anything I find important, miscellaneous stuff. This one is with my calendar.
  • I also have one about writing. I jot down ideas for this blog, other ideas about writing, anything I need to remember about writing in general.
  • Another one is full of notes about organization; many of those ideas from that notebook will probably be expanded on for this blog.
  • Yet another one now is for plans being made for an upcoming road trip. To pack, ideas for sight-seeing, towns to stop in along the way and so on.
  • I write short stories, so I keep a notebook handy to jot down ideas for those.
  • Suggestions for others are: hobbies, reading, genealogy.

You’d think I’d have one for my novels. But I make all my notes about my current work-in-progress right in a document (saving it as: <Title> Notes.doc) in my word processor.

A single, large or small notebook can also serve the same purpose. With tabs for each individual project, you can keep it all together and quickly find what you need. Since I am on my laptop a good part of the day, I find the smaller, individual notebooks easier to handle.

Have you found a different system that works for you to keep the areas of your life separate? Please share them here in the comments section. I’d love to hear them.