Are there lots of tasks stacking up on your to-do list ― from small simple jobs to major undertakings? And sometimes you no longer even know where to start and where to stop? Then it’s time to start managing and organizing your time more effectively. In this article we provide three tips to help you with this.
Get yourself organized: 3 tips
So many things to do but time just runs away from you? Here you can find ideas and tips on self-organization so you can make the best use of your time.
Tip 1: Don’t deceive yourself
Psychologists believe we make around 20,000 decisions every day. Some of these decisions involve weighing up which day-to-day work tasks we want to complete straight away in the morning, which to do in the afternoon and which to postpone until next week. We don’t always make these decisions as rationally as we would like to. Often we can’t get past the initial emotional response that we form in just fractions of a second: “I want to do this” or “I don’t want to do that”. If we then reconsider and reflect on our thoughts, we can often deceive ourselves and end up simply looking for reasons to justify our initial gut feeling, for example, with an excuse like “that can wait until tomorrow”. As a result, we only complete those things that we prefer to do today. Our inclinations like to play tricks on us. What we can do to combat this? Weigh up the consequences! Prioritizing unimportant things just because you like doing them, while urgent but unenjoyable things are left incomplete is a sure-fire way to cause stress.
Tip 2: Set yourself goals but make sure you remain flexible
We tend to lose sight of the big picture when we have lots of things to do. Think about the goals you want to achieve on a regular basis. It’s helpful to ask yourself questions from a long-term, medium-term and short-term perspective. What goals should I set myself for this year? What are my goals for the coming month? And what are my aims for today? Setting goals gives us direction and helps us to differentiate between important and unimportant things. The SMART method can help you to formulate your goals.
- S for specific: describe your goal in as much detail as you can.
- M for measurable: include criteria which you can use to measure progress towards your goal.
- A for attractive: express your goal in an inspiring way.
- R for realistic: make your goal is realistic and achievable so that it is neither too big nor too small.
- T for time-bound: make sure your goal has a beginning and an end point.
As important as it is to outline your goals clearly, it’s equally important to remain flexible while you are working towards them. Draft a rough outline of how you can achieve your goals, but make sure you leave enough room for manoeuvre so you can react spontaneously to new or unexpected developments.
Tip 3: Use the right tools to organize your time
There are countless tools that can help improve your self-organization. For example, the ALPEN method or the ABC method can be helpful when planning and prioritizing tasks.
You can plan your day effectively using the ALPEN method. To do this:
- A = write down your activities
- L = work out the length of time needed
- P = plan in buffer time
- E = establish priorities for your decisions
- N = note what you have achieved, consider what you could do better and defer uncompleted tasks until tomorrow.
The ABC method is a very simple tool for intuitively prioritizing your tasks.
- “A” tasks are very important and must be completed immediately
- “B” tasks are less important and can be completed at a later time or delegated
- “C” tasks are only marginally important or unimportant and can be delegated or cancelled
It’s especially important to bear tip 1 in mind with this method.