6 Tips For Organizing Your Schedule So You're More Productive
If your life has become a messy whirlwind of appointments, papers, and deadlines, then you may need to take some time to find ways to organize your schedule. Your daily to-do lists can easily get out of control, especially if you are really busy. But, with a little effort, you can get ourself organized again.
Here's a "perfect schedule" visualization: After waking up feeling rested, you begin to get ready for work and can easily locate all your bits and bobs (bag, keys, wallet, phone). You head off to work with calmness and ease, confident that you have everything you need for the day. You arrive at your desk and know exactly what you need to do that day, and have all the things necessary for the tasks at hand. The biggest tasks are completed by lunch, and you have the rest of the afternoon to do all the little things, like check emails. You then head home for a relaxing evening, knowing you don't have to think about work again until tomorrow, since you accomplished so much.
OK, that sounds a little bit too good to be true, but it's nice to put in your mind what an organized day might be like. In reality, we can do our best to stick to appointments, create to-do lists, and have orderly desks so that our days run as smoothly as possible. That sounds a little more likely, right?
Here are some easy ways to tidy up that crazy schedule of yours so that you can have a more organized day.
1. Keep What You Need In One Spot
When you get home from work, resist the urge to fling your keys across the room and leave your bags in a heap on the floor. Instead, designate a spot for your phone, keys, glasses, wallet, etc. That way, all you have to do in the morning is scoop up your stuff and be on your way.
2. Plot Out Your Day The Evening Before
Before you leave work, or before you go to bed, take 15 minutes to figure out what you're going to do the next morning. "Stop work about 15 minutes early, tidy up your desk, and put away any loose items. Review your to-do’s and go over your daily schedule for the next day to decide which project you plan to tackle first thing," writes professional organizer Ramona Creel, for organizational site Smead.com. Creel recommends placing everything you need on your desk before you leave work, so that you can "hit the ground running" as soon as you return the next morning.
3. Organize Your Desk For Maximum Efficiency
Each time you have to pause what you're doing to find a paper clip or a piece of notepaper, you make it easier to lose your train of thought and forget what you were doing. Were you writing an email, or jotting down a phone number? Don't let yourself fall into chaos just because your desk is a mess. Make sure you have all the tools of your trade nearby, whether it be school books, drafting paper, or art supplies. Whatever you need to make your day run smoothly, make sure it's neat and tidy and within arm's reach.
4. Use Your Time Wisely
A great way to throw off your whole day is to spend the precious morning hours doing something counterproductive, like browsing the Internet and checking email (aka, procrastinating). Before you know it, hours have gone by and it's already the afternoon. Instead of letting the day slip away to these easy activities, spend your morning accomplishing something important. "Pick one big task to tackle as soon as you get to the office. It should be something that you've been procrastinating on, that has an approaching deadline, or that has simply been hanging over your head," said Creel. "Get it out of the way first thing, before you do anything else and even if you don’t accomplish anything else, you will still have had a productive day."
5. Let Your Planner Be Your Guide
Every organized gal should have a planner, whether it's a classic Moleskin, a funky Filofax, or a professional DayRunner. Of course, it's a good idea to have your schedule in your phone, but physically writing it down may help you remember important dates and times. According to writer Dustin Wax at Lifehacker.com, "When we write something down, research suggests that as far as our brain is concerned, it’s as if we were doing that thing. Writing seems to act as a kind of mini-rehearsal for doing." So not only do you get to carry around a super cute notebook, but you'll be doing your memory a favor as well.
6. Jot Down Appointments Immediately
Resist the urge to scribble important things on napkins or gum wrappers. Instead, whenever you have a schedule change or make an appointment, take a moment to immediately record it in your planner. By keeping all your appointments written down in one spot (like that planner of yours), you'll be less likely to frantically scramble later on when you can't remember where you have to be. Recording it immediately also frees up your mind to focus on more important things, since you won't be distracted by a million dates and times swirling around in your head.
There's a fine line between a totally disorganized day, and one that runs smoothly. All it takes to keep your schedule organized is a few minutes of planning and some simple tools of the trade.
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