Sunday, October 14, 2012

Organize Your Life: how to get it all done

Yesterday while on a staff retreat for one of my four jobs a friend asked me how I get everything done. My first instinct was to laugh and tell her I don't. There are always 10 more things I want to finish every day than I ever have time to even get started on. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that I do have some methods, and I get everything that is a high priority done. 

This year has been my biggest challenge yet. I am taking a full load of classes, juggling four jobs, running a blog, and trying to spend time with friends and family. So far I have completed everything I needed to for all of my jobs and finished my homework, but the rest of my life falls apart at times. In the past four weeks I haven't kept up with blogging like I had planned or made it to all of the social meetings I had said yes to. But this week I am going to readjust my schedule, make some tough decisions, and make sure I am able to fit in the things that really matter to me.

Tips to preserve your sanity while increasing your productivity:
(AKA how to get it all done)

1. Schedule: I cannot say this enough. Without a schedule there is no way to stay on track and remember everything that needs to be done in day. I schedule time for fitness, friends, and food (and everything else that's important). When it's on the schedule I have no excuse for why it can't be done. (my google calendar is my best friend. I keep it on my phone, printed out in my planner, and it's always open on my computer.)

2. Lists: I make lists. I make them constantly. I have lists about other lists. Call me crazy, but without them I will forget things or stress that I am forgetting things. These lists stop the late night epiphanies that I forgot a homework assignment or keep me from realizing when I am already 10 minutes late that I have no gas in my car and I won't make it to my destination without stopping for some. My lists also help me to get tasks done that typically fall through the cracks like cleaning the bathroom in a semi-regular fashion. 

3. Prioritize: at times I have over 20 things on my To Do List. Without a way to organize the items, I have no idea where to start. Prioritizing what you have to do will prevent wasted time and leaving things that must get done that day until it's too late. I make a list of all of my top priorities for the day and I rank them. Even when I really want to just start with the easiest item, my top priority always has to come first. When everything feels like a huge priority, realize that you will get everything done on the list if you have been realistic with your schedule. All you need to do is get started and start hacking away at it. 

4. Self-disipline and focus: You have to keep yourself on track. Your boss, professor, or mother cannot sit next to you all day and remind you to be working. Your job is to stay on task and not let yourself waste time you don't have. Put away distractions, especially social media and often the entire internet in general. Go to a place where you get work done like the library or coffee shop. If you like to work from home, make a special space for working where you don't let yourself get distracted. 

5. Treat yourself! After all of your hard work, you need to seriously show yourself some appreciation. Have your favorite dessert, watch a TV show or a movie, go out with friends, whatever you want it to be. 

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