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Friday, April 15, 2016

Help! I Can't Get Organized!

We've all been there. Whether it's the kids, the day job (and in my case a 2nd job, too), the never-ending laundry, and the book deadline...there are too many things to do in the day and not enough time to get them all done. Yet, there were some people who seem to juggle all these things (and more!) and manage to be ten times more productive than me. So, how did they do it?

They got organized.

A few years ago I made a serious commitment to get myself organized. There were too many things on my plate and I felt overwhelmed. Despite my tendency to make lists (I love sticky notes), I couldn't make a decent dent in my daily lists, even when I broke tasks down. I was drowning. So, I needed a new approach. I studied the habits of successful people and made my own plan to get organized. This is what I did.

1.) I prioritized. I decided to have no more than 3 priorities on my list on any given day. So I had to make a decision. Could the laundry wait one more day? Would the kids be nutritiously deprived if we had breakfast for dinner one more time this week? Would the world end if we missed one soccer practice? Could I afford a maid service a couple times a month if it gave me several additional hours of time a week? Take a hard look at what is important to you and decide.

2.) Make a list of those priorities and be honest in assessing how long it's going to take you to do each task. I already made lists anyway, but when I prioritized, the list got smaller and more manageable. I also became more productive when I was aware of how much time I had to do what I needed to do to meet that day's priority.

3.) Learn to say NO to those things that are not a priority. If it doesn't fit into your new schedule, you can't do it. You just can't. It's not mathematically possible. Stay focused on what you have to get done and the hours you have to do it in. You can't operate on two hours of sleep. It's not healthy, and even more important, it's not safe.

4.)  Make a large family calendar and keep it in the kitchen. I actually have two. One in my office and one in the kitchen. Sometimes your priorities won't sync with your family. If there is a conflict of priorities, there must be a family discussion. Sometimes your priority will come first, sometimes it won't. But often when the family brainstorms to meet everyone's need, there are compromises that can be made that may salvage at least part of the time you need to accomplish your goal.

5.) Make sure your family is a priority. To ensure this was a daily priority, I actually scheduled it every day. We eat dinner together every night. For an hour after dinner, we have "family time." Each night we rotate who gets to choose the family activity. Sometimes its a movie, a bicycle ride, a board game, cards or an impromptu soccer game. There is no complaining or whining about the person's choice. When it's your turn to chose the activity, everyone has to do it, no complaints.

This doesn't mean my way is the right way. It's just the right way for me. Everyone has different ways of getting organized. The key is to get serious about it. 

So, how do you stay organized? 


Anne Marie Becker said...

Great tips, Julie! I need to reprioritize every month, it seems. Shifting schedules, kids' needs, and changes in household/yard duties with each season seem to mess with my personal priorities. ;) Important reminders! (And most of the time, I feel like that woman in the picture, about to tear her hair out! So I make sure to prioritize ME, too, now, which fortunately, typically means more reading time.)

Lisa Q. Mathews said...

This post came at the perfect time, Julie, because I've been going nuts of late. I'm heartened that I am not alone! I do separate "work" priorities from "personal" priorities on a weekly basis, with a separate "Notes"section for general/upcoming stuff, so it doesn't muddy the immediate priorities. That helps. Sort of.

jean harrington said...

I like your organizational tips, Julie. They are well thought out and make sense. My problem is the spirit is willing, the flesh is, well, you know. Still I'm working on it.

Wynter said...

A woman after my own heart! I keep my dry erase calendar in the kitchen and have assigned each family member a different color pen. I eliminated piles of papers on my desk by putting together 2 large binders with plastic sleeves and divider labels that categorize everything that used to be in those messy piles. Now I can actually find things. I have one for family stuff and another for work stuff.

I am still working on that saying no thing. Great tips. I find life is easier when it's organized.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Good post, Julie. My kids are grown now, so my free time is my own. The only problem is the day job, which takes up an inordinate amount of time!

Rita said...

Organized? I do not understand this concept. Has this been around a long time? Perhaps I should investigate this.

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