February is Time Management Month so I’m sharing ten of my best ways to keep myself organized and life running smoothly.

1. ALLOT TIME FOR DAYDREAMING

Prone to daydreaming? Turns out letting your mind wander can be ideal for creative problem-solving. Even better, the optimal time for letting your brain wander is your non-optimal time of the day. For me, a night owl, this is what occurs naturally every morning as I sip that first cup of java.

Give your mind a break between tasks too. This allows you to make a true mental shift and function more effectively for the next task you tackle.


2. SCHEDULE INCENTIVIZING WEEKLY OUTINGS

Whether a business of one or a staff of fifty, your “team’s” productivity can benefit from something to look forward to at the end of the week. It does not need to epic or expensive – massage visits, al fresco lunches or happy half-hours on Friday. Team rewards can also improve collaboration and team building.

To further motivate yourself personally when developing goals, note in the planning your reward when you achieve it.


3. UTILIZE THE 80/20 RULE FOR YOUR WORK

Create a daily work schedule that allows you to spend 80% of your time on the most important tasks and 20% on the necessary menial tasks.

To help mitigate interruptions and keep your focus strong, assign fixed times during the day to deal with emails, phone calls, instant messages, and social media throughout the day.

Another idea is to look at your daily schedule and look at what 20% of your activities and tasks are providing 80% of your results.


4. PREP YOUR DAY INTO SEGMENTS

Starting your week and each day with a plan can greatly improve your productivity. My method: Sunday afternoon is devoted to planning out the week both work and life. Then, each night I review the next day’s to-do list and adjust what I need to.

I utilize the “time blocking” method, where I group similar tasks together for efficiency. Consider scheduling your most challenging tasks for the first two hours of the day, leaving social media and emails for the afternoon.


5. CURTAIL MEETING TANGENTS

Improve the efficiency of your meetings by implementing some of the following ideas:

  • Set an agenda in advance; end with recall of the action items
  • If a significant issue arises that does not require the entire group, stop the conversation, create an action item for those involved to meet later to discuss rather than have it derail your meeting.
  • If the meeting is about one issue, consider having everyone stand or walk to keep it brief
  • Follow-up with an email summary, noting action items and deadlines

6. CARVE OUT TIME FOR YOUR NEEDS

Serious problems can occur when we provide and care for others at the expense of our own well-being. Make time in your schedule to refuel and rest. Taking care of your own needs helps you maintain the inner resources needed to manage challenging demands and significant pressures. A rested mind is a clearer, better-functioning mind.


7. ORGANIZE YOUR OFFICE WITH “ZONES”

color code bindersReducing your office clutter and disorganization can be a great help in time efficiency. Just like scheduling, organizing your office materials into segments or zones can be very useful. I have four core zones in my office:

  1. Main – my laptops, monitor, calendar, etc.
  2. Printer & Supplies
  3. Research & File – filing cabinet, books pertinent to my work
  4. Creative – where I can spread out with physical materials to collage, paint, etc.

Don’t forget to look vertically for more space to place items.


8. MAKE WAITING TIME INTO WORK TIME

Waiting for a meeting to start? Check your work social media and repost a few company posts. Or take the time to do some deep breathing.

Sitting in the doctor’s office? Respond to a few emails. Or bring that novel and squeeze in some personal reading.

Stop stressing over having to wait and instead put these minutes to work for you. Use them for small tasks like answering emails, scheduling appointments or de-stressing a little.

One more idea: Squeeze podcast and audiobook listening in while showering, washing dishes, mopping, commuting.


9. TURN AUDACIOUS GOALS INTO ACTION STEPS

By breaking down your big, hairy audacious goals for the year into action items you can schedule into your calendar, you honor your vision and have a greater chance of actually achieving your goal.

I have three large goals for the year so I’ve blocked six hours each week to tackle them directly. Knowing there is two hours a week blocked also helps me plan out the “size” of my action items – 50 available “steps” makes getting to a goal very possible.


10. GROUP ERRANDS TO SAVE TIME AND MONEY

Saturday morning has become our time to run errands. Most people sleep in, so I’ve found it the best time to handle shopping at places like Target and the grocery store. Less crowd and less noise equals short lines and more focus.

Just like my organizing of other areas, I also batch my errands to both save time and money on gas. Driving can be a big time suck, so this method eases my stress considerably.


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Jeny Dowlin, PCM launched The Khaki Giraffe in 2011, after more than 15 years of experience in the marketing communications industry. She has earned the American Marketing Association’s Professional Certified Marketer designation and is a published writer and marketing strategist, adept at developing communications that attract attention, change minds, and motivate behaviors thus moving organizations closer to their goals.

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