This time of year, it’s somewhat expected that you’re going to feel overwhelmed. You have this constant nagging voice in your head saying,” Have you finished shopping and decorating?” “Are you mailing cards this year?” When the work voice kicks in, it’s almost too much too bare. What’s a person to do?
According to our good friends at Wikipedia, Time Management is the “act or process of planning or exercising control over the amount of time spent on specific activities”. If you want to get the voice out of your head, kick it out by taking back control of your life. Here’s how:
· Make a list. I know you’ve heard this before and it hasn’t worked for you, but don’t give up on it. Making a list is step one. Prioritizing the list is critical. By using letters (A,B,C) make it crystal clear, the items that need to happen now, and those that can wait. Don’t make multiple lists that you can lose or forget about. Either write it down in a small notebook you keep with you or use the note feature of your smart phone. Don’t worry about combining personal items with work items. It all needs to get done at some point.
· Keep it clean. Nothing overwhelms me more than being surrounded by paper. I honestly don’t know how people function in cluttered offices, either at home or work. Set aside an hour or two and get rid of the mess. Throw what you can away, and if you’re not sure, at least stack it out of the way. The items that need immediate attention should be the only pieces of paper left on your desk. Put everything else either in a cabinet, drawer or stacked neatly in the corner. You won’t believe how cleansing it is, both physically and mentally.
· Block off time. Too often, we try to squeeze in errands and tasks we must complete into a few minutes of down time. If you have a really flexible job, block off time in your calendar and don’t deviate from it unless you have a fire drill at the office. If you aren’t so fortunate, take your lunch hour and think logistically about the best way to tackle your errands. I know someone who never thinks logistically, so will go back and forth to the same locations (in heavy traffic) three or four times in the same day.
· Delegate. Be honest about what others are capable of doing. Are you buying gifts for everyone from everyone? Are there tasks at work that if you’re honest with yourself, someone else could easily do. Shedding anything that you personally don’t need to do is an easy way to take more control of the things you must do.
· Limit the time spent on certain tasks. In addition to actually blocking off time on your calendar. Decide up front how much time you will spend on shopping, cards, decorating, etc. Set the timer and don’t exceed it. This is the essence of time management. This is true of work as well. Do you limit the amount of time you spend answering emails or are you a slave to the inbox?
Taking more control of your days instead of letting your days control you can help you relax and really enjoy the Holiday season. And if something didn’t get done this year, I guaranty there will still be a next year.