Most people are aware that being organized can result in stress reduction and in more enjoyment of life, in general. However, did you know that being organized also saves you time in ways that you may not have considered?
- Save time by thinking through and planning the following day. Each evening, take about 15 minutes to think about all of your must-dos for the next day, and write down how much time you will spend on each. It may looking something like this:
6-6:30 AM workout
6:30-7:30 AM shower and get ready for work
7:30-8 AM drive to work
8-9 AM check and respond to e-mails
9-10 AM meeting
10 AM-11 AM work on presentation
11 AM-12 PM check and respond to e-mails
12-1 PM lunch with co-worker
1-2 PM meeting
2-4 PM work on project
4-5 PM check and respond to e-mails
5-5:30 PM drive home from work
5:30-6 PM cook dinner
6-6:45 PM eat dinner with family
6:45-7 PM clean up after dinner
7-8 PM help children with homework/bedtime routine
8-9:30 PM tie up loose ends from work day
9:30-10 PM “me time” (reading, watching TV, etc.)
10 PM-6 AM sleep
Remember to be honest with yourself regarding how much time each item on your list may take. If it usually takes you 20 minutes to drive to work, unless you get stuck behind a school bus, in which case it takes 30 minutes, carve out 30 minutes for your drive. A little extra time never hurt anyone! Planning each hour of your day in 15-minute increments (unrealistic to plan each minute!) and holding yourself accountable for doing the things you need to do when you planned to do them will deter you from getting too sidetracked and help ensure that you accomplish all of your to-dos each day. From time to time throughout the day, stop and ask yourself if you’re respecting your own time by staying on schedule.
- Save time looking for your things. So you’ve planned your day the night before, and you’re on track to get out the door and on your way to work by 7:30! Good for you! You go to grab your keys out of your purse (you THINK that’s where you left them), and (doh!), they’re not in there. You spend 15 minutes looking for them, and it turns out you had left them on your night stand the night before. Now, it’s 7:45, and you most certainly will not make it to work by 8. But what if there was a key hook by your door where you consistently put your keys when you got home? That eliminates the question of “Where are my keys?” each morning. Later in the day, you go to lunch with a coworker. But when you go to pay, you can’t find your credit card. After spending 20 minutes frantically searching through your wallet and your car while having multiple heart attacks, you remember that you had dropped it down into your purse the night before when you went to the grocery store. It’s been right there all along! Now, it’s 1:20, and you’re late for your meeting! But what if every time you used your credit card, you were vigilant about putting it back into the same assigned slot in your wallet? Your latest crisis would have been averted. Toward the end of the day, your boss walks into your office and wants to see the report you told her you had ready to turn in. Now, where in all these stacks of paper on your desk might be that report? You’re frantic again…and not only wasting your own time looking for it. How embarrassing! But what if you had a filing system in place? You could have avoided looking incompetent in front of your boss, of all people. In total, you have now lost 45 minutes of your day looking for things. What a waste of a precious 45 minutes!
- Save time cooking meals. Due to having to look for some of your belongings throughout the day, you get home from work 30 minutes later than you had planned. It’s now 6:00, you haven’t even started to THINK about what you’re going to cook for dinner, your kids are complaining that they’re hungry…and so are you! You’re also tired and just want to get this dinner thing knocked out quickly and easily. You call and order pizza for delivery (again), and no one is excited about it, since you eat it about 4 nights a week due to poor meal planning. To avoid this scenario, I recommend that each weekend, you spend some time considering what you want to cook your family each night of the upcoming work week, go to the grocery store to get the necessary ingredients, and go ahead and chop your vegetables, marinate your meats, and mix up your sauces, as necessary, on Sunday evening. Doing so will make cooking dinner each night a snap and will save you so much time during your busy work week! Bonus if your kids will eat what you decide to make versus complaining about ordering pizza again. Now, you’re spending 10 minutes per evening cooking dinner, versus 30. A 20-minute time savings each day could lead to being able to stay at work a bit later to work on projects, more “me time,” or more sleep!
The new, upcoming work week doesn’t have to be so dreaded. Try using all 3 of my tips one week, and post in the comments below to tell me how it went and how much time you saved.