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Posted by Jessica Russo on March 6, 2014
Living many lives can be stressful, which makes time management all the more important. If you feel overwhelmed by life’s demands, like you’re always putting out fires, read these suggestions for steps that may make it easier by organizing and saving you time.
In Getting Things Done by David Allen, he describes a five stage process for managing workflow. It can be summarized as follows:
1. Collect things that command your attention.
2. Process what they mean and what to do about them.
3. Organize the results which you…
4. Review as options for what you choose to…
The first step is an ongoing process of jotting down everything that you will have to confront at some point, from your essay due Thursday to your life-long dreams. This takes things from your mind to a piece of paper. When less things to do float in your head, you feel more relaxed. I like to use a pen or pencil and my planner, but there are also digital tools that you can use, like an app on your smart phone, a voice recording device, or your email.
From your list, you can ask yourself if each to-do is necessary, what each important task entails and how you can get them done. Then you can sort them into the now pile, to deal with immediately, the later pile, to see another time, the reference pile, for safe-keeping, and the trash pile for what you don’t care for. This sorting system is also perfect for organizing your emails. The pile that you deal with immediately will take up less than five minutes for each task. The pile that you save for later will take longer and you may do it afterwards or delegate it to save time, especially if someone else is better suited for the task.
Out of the items you have to do now and later, prioritize what is most important. There are systems for organizing your to-dos, but you may simply number tasks to rank importance, depends on urgency and payoff and assign each task. When I write a long list, I like to use a computer to make the to-dos easy to rearrange without having to erase or cross off words. Update your to-do now and later lists as time goes by so that you keep moving towards a realistic and clear goal.
Determine what you can do right now. When choosing what to do, keep in mind where it should be done, the time you have to complete the task, the amount of energy you have to work on it, and which tasks are most important to you or are of higher priority. Then go for it.
Once you have used this process many times, it can become automatic. This process is effective in preventing information overload. Next time, I will write more on how to sort your email account so it looks and stays neat and other organization tips that will make you feel awesome when applied.