Image courtesy of Pixabay and steinchen

Image courtesy of Pixabay and steinchen

Hey! You blinked! Suddenly, Thanksgiving is gone, Christmas is past, and New Years is looming. We’re left wondering: Where did 2010 go? Time has a way of getting away from us before we really notice it’s gone!

With a fresh new year around the corner, it can feel like crunch time to accomplish tasks we committed ourselves to for 2010. Or maybe you’re feeling the pressure to get 2011 planned out in the next few days. If you’re feeling behind or overwhelmed, here are some suggestions for organizing your time efficiently.

1.Use a planner. Having your schedule written down goes a long way in helping you be more efficient. Just like budgeting your finances, budgeting your time helps you see the big picture better, and then with that bigger understanding helps you allot your time most strategically. Don’t feel bound to one method of scheduling. Whether it means sticky notes on a desk calendar, using your phone and computer in perfect synchronization, or toting around a day planner, there are about as many ways to keep a planner as there are personalities. Find the method that will work for you and use it!

2.Keep a running to-do list. To-do lists are a fabulous way of dealing with stress. Keeping an ever-evolving to do list helps guide your activities and helps you stay productive during your less structured blocks of time (i.e. the afternoons empty of appointments, or the weeks without any immediate project due dates looming). If you think of something you need to do, write it down. Doing this in your day-planner alongside your schedule can be very helpful for making the most of any spare moments you have. Try keeping items listed according to priority: the ones that have to get done today at the top, the less urgent items at the bottom. Be flexible with it, but stay dedicated and just watch and see how much more you get accomplished.

3.Make (and keep!) appointments with yourself. As the adage goes, you’re not doing anybody any good if you’re dead. Think about this phrase metaphorically in regards to your business. If you don’t choose and proactively plan to make time for yourself and your business, you are in effect choosing to short-circuit your effectiveness. Essentially, this is the art of learning how to say a polite but firm “no” to the tyranny of the urgent. People in crisis vying for your attention may seem like the most important thing at the moment, but in all reality the “crisis” is more often than not something that can – and should – be dealt with tomorrow. If you do not treat yourself with the same respect you treat your clients (you would never dream of not showing up for a meeting or making that phone call 45 minutes late!), you will run yourself into the ground and lose not just your sanity, but your effectiveness as well.

4.Know what matters. An article in the January 2011 issue of Sunset Magazine talks about simplifying the stuff in your home, and gave some solid advice: “Make a list of three to five things you really enjoy (friends, family, career, painting, hiking) and evaluate what you own that helps you with those endeavors. Give away whatever does not fit.” Take this principle and apply it to your time management, as well: know what your main objectives are, and organize your time around those priorities. And then don’t stress about the things you say ‘no’ to! Centering your time on the things that are your priorities will simplify this whole process of time management by letting you know what things to say “yes” to and what things it’s OK to say “no” to.

Time management will always be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be one we don’t master. Start making choices today about how you will manage your time and see how much more productive you can become! Cheers to you and a prosperous and organized 2011!

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