Born Organized? Not Me.
If you have known me for a while then you know that I was not “born organized”. I’m one of those people who are neither left nor right brain oriented. I guess you could describe me as an orderly free spirit. I have had to learn how to be organized and how to figure out ways to work with my rebellious free spirit.
Time Management is Actually Self Management.
I have excelled in developing systems or processes to organize stuff and information. I live these systems and I teach them every day. However, like many of you I struggle with time management. That of course is a misnomer in its self because you really can’t manage time. You can only manage how you use your time.
Case Study: My Husband
We all have 24 hour days yet some folks seem to get a lot more done. Several Saturdays ago I made an observation. My husband came home from refereeing Upwards Soccer around 11:15am. He entered the house from the basement garage and stopped to gather some tools and a valve for the bathtub faucet (which he had purchased a few days earlier). He came upstairs and went to work changing the valve on the hallway bathtub faucet. He was finished in about 20 minutes. Then just as quickly he showered, dressed, grabbed a sandwich and was nestled in his recliner at 12:00 noon to watch the Vols kick off. My husband is an excellent manager of his time. I will add that he knew how long the task would take because he changed a valve in our master bathroom the week before.
When I have a client appointment I am an excellent manager of our time together. When I arrive for our appointment we have decided in advance what area we will focus on so we are able to dive right in. As you know we can accomplish a lot in a small amount of time.
There are two common denominators here. One, a plan is made in advance and two, a window of time has been blocked out to accomplish the task. My husband had a short block of time to accomplish the valve replacement before the football game. He made a plan and he worked the plan. The same is true for our appointments. We decide what we want to accomplish, we block out the time, we stay focused and we execute the plan.
My issue is this: I don’t manage my time nearly as well during my off time. My husband blocks out most of his time. I only block out outside appointments. I have a long list of goals that I want to accomplish over the next year and I am involved with several organizations which require me to do some work outside of meetings. I find myself flitting from one thing to the next. Can you relate? If you have followed my blog then you know that I took most of the summer off to intensely focus on a landscaping project. It was important to me and I am glad that I finished it but I must confess that I let some important things slide.
I have decided to apply time blocking to all of my activities. I read a book by Amy Lynn Andrews called “Tell Your Time: How to manage your schedule so that you can live fulfilled”. It is a short eBook that can be read in about thirty minutes. She includes several worksheets.
One of the points that resonated with me is that our 24 hour day is simply a container and if you overfill the container then you have chaos. One of my organizing principles is the capacity principle. I have been teaching for a while that you should only fill your filing cabinets and storage containers to seventy-five percent of their capacity. My reason is that you need some wiggle room to get your hand in to move things around slightly so that it easy to retrieve an item. You also need to be able to temporally add something to a container. You can read more about the capacity principle here.
Light bulb moment! Our day should not be filled beyond 75% capacity because we too need some wiggle room. Sometimes we just need to take a couple of minutes of downtime to catch our breath. Other times we may have something that comes up that must get done.
Here is another husband observation. He is always about fifteen minutes early for an appointment. He does this to allow for traffic problems and because he does not want to feel rushed. He is building in that downtime so that he can catch his breath.
The “Tell Your Time” book divides your activities into fixed and flexible activities and non- negotiable and negotiable activities. You block out the fixed and flexible non-negotiable activities first and then fill in the spare time with fixed and flexible negotiable activities. It is a real eye-opener.
I purchased this eBook for the bargain price of $2.99. You can learn more about the book by clicking this affiliate link. If you do purchase I will get a few pennies too.
If you decide to try the time blocking technique I would like to know how it works for you. Please leave your comments below.