February is National Time Management Month. The honorary month has no official governmental standing, but it was created by the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) as another way to bring attention to issues of time management and productivity.
You may remember hearing about NAPO in my January blog about, “Get Organized Month.” So, if you liked any of the websites from there, you are sure to love some of NAPO’s favorite time management tips.
- Take 10 minutes a day to make a list of 5 priorities that you must do. Get started on that list first thing in the morning.
- Identify your personal “prime time,” that time of day when you generally feel and think your best. Schedule your high priority tasks for prime time.
- Prioritize your tasks. Use ABC’s, 123’s or colors as you prefer. Classify every task as: High priority – vital or urgent to the accomplishment of your goals; Medium priority – important to the accomplishment of your goals but routine tasks; Low priority – nice to do if time permits.
- Stay on task until the task is complete. For example: When tidying up your home, work room by room. Refrain from making small trips to return stray items to other rooms. Wait until you are finished and carry anything that is leaving that room out with you.
- Assign one household chore (i.e., cleaning, food shopping, laundry, bills) to one day a week so you are not doing everything, every day.
- Map it out. Start a time-management system for yourself by using a calendar (digital or paper). Block out daily re-occurring tasks with the length of time it takes to complete that activity. This will provide a visual of time available to accomplish “to do” tasks.
- Consider using a digital calendar (e.g., Google calendar or iCal) if you need to integrate other people’s schedules into your own. A few features that digital calendars offer are: color coding to represent a person or life segment (i.e., work, home, social, spiritual); the ability to link family and friends to activities that they are to be part of; the ability to see others’ busy and free time when planning events; and the ability to mark activities and details as “private” or “busy.”
- When faced with a dreaded but unavoidable task – do the worst first and get it off your mind! You will spend less energy and time getting the task done. Be sure to reward yourself with something you enjoy.
- Use your smart phone and technology to your advantage – set timers as reminders to start and/or end a task. This works well for kids to limit their computer time.
- Group like tasks together. For instance, all computer work, all phone calls, all errands can be done more efficiently if you are not switching between different types of tasks.
- Take time to clarify what your goals are and notice when people and things are pulling you in all kinds of directions. Say yes to things that help you meet your goals and accomplish what is most important to you. Be proactive and not reactive most of your day.
- Be sure the items on your daily and weekly “To Do” lists help you accomplish your annual goals. “Busy” doesn’t necessarily mean productive.
- Good time management starts the night before. Establish a regular sleep routine. In the morning, take time to stretch and wake slowly. Think about the three things in your life that you are most grateful for. Always eat breakfast. Plan to take good care of yourself every day. A ready mind and strong body can tackle tasks much easier than an exhausted hungry one.