As I’ve mentioned previously it’s very common to struggle with time management. You’re not alone!
But during my time as a time management and organization coach I’ve learned what really works to gain more control of your days.
In a nutshell, improving your time management skills can be broken down into three steps:
- You become aware of your own work processes in real time — you know that you procrastinate, but are you able to catch yourself red-handed and turn it around? Read more about procrastination in an upcoming post. Antidotes for Procrastination
- You develop a series of habits, with respect to your work and home life, which works for your unique situation.
- You engage in a (never-ending) effort towards long-term change by doing those habits every day. In particular, planning ahead helps to outsmart our impulsive brains and therefore must be done daily.
It’s a process over time, not a one-stop destination.
For starters, here’s today’s tip:
Write it all down!
Build the habit of writing all your tasks down. All of them.
One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is, “I don’t need to write that down. I’ll remember to do it.”
But the odds that you will remember at the moment you need to, with all the important details and especially in the midst of a jam-packed day, are slim.
Until you write it down, that task is just another vague “noise in the mental attic” type distraction which keeps you from fully focusing on the task at hand.
Written or electronic?
Whether you keep all your daily notes on paper or in a smartphone is a personal preference. Anywhere works, as long as it’s a note-keeping system you always have with you – and as long as all your notes live in the same home. It’s important you regularly clean out your notes just as you would an “inbox.”
At this stage, your to-do list is like one big laundry basket where you collect all the dirty socks (aka your tasks!) that appear all day long.
This is only step one.
In a future blog, I’ll talk about how to sort through the laundry and begin to organize it into a plan that works.
In the meantime, practice writing all your tasks down in a note format that suits you.