Time is on your side
Welcome Enough is Enough’s fall 2016 newsletter. I’ve been scouring the planet, social media and my brain for great ideas to help you keep clutter under control and to make the most of your precious time and energy.
If you see something helpful or a tip you like, you’re more than welcome share it on social media.
Have an organizing question or need a referral to a resource? I’m happy to help. Email me at junebell (at) me (dot) com or catch me on twitter @JuneDBell
A wonderful benefit of writing a magazine article about time management is getting to interview productivity consultants and gather their best tips.
Laura Vanderkam—author of “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think”—recommends tracking your time for an entire week. You can download her time-tracking spreadsheet in exchange for your email address. Be diligent in completing it, and you’ll see where your time is going in blocks of 15 or 30 minutes.
If you’re not happy with what you find—Getting too little sleep? Not enough fun? Too much housework?—you’ll have the data you need to make some changes. Don’t feel guilty about down time, which everyone needs, or outsourcing tasks, which frees your time to do things that you love.
Vanderkam and her husband have four young children, and she recently accompanied her husband on a business trip to Paris for a week, leaving the kids in capable hands. (She and her husband are fortunate to be able to afford the services of a nanny.)
Kevin Kruse, author of “15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management,” has a free day planner you can download, too. I like the ideas of picking a theme for your day, listing your MIT (Most Important Task) and answering this question: “What activity will contribute most to your primary goal?”
Organizing and productivity in the news
From The Washington Post: Five Things You Can Get Rid of Right Now … Spoiler: excess luggage, empty photo frames, glassware you don’t use, hotel toiletries and reusable tote bags. Rather than just advising you to toss these items, the article suggests homes for them.
From The Wall Street Journal: Now is the Real New Year … “Autumn brings out the planner in all of us, so we set goals and organize.” People kick back during the summer months, but when fall rolls around, we head back to the gym, clean out our closets and revisit our diets.
From Fast Company: How Writing To Do Lists Helps Your Brain (Whether or not You Finish Them) by Art Markman, a University of Texas at Austin professor of psychology and marketing. The mental work involved in making a list gives you perspective and, ideally, makes space on your calendar to get them done.
If You Have Only 15 Minutes …
Get realistic about time. How long does it take you to fold a load of laundry? Complete your grocery shopping? Prepare a half-hour presentation?
Some tasks take much longer than we anticipate. Others take far less. Have you ever procrastinated, dreading a task and then, once you started it, found that you’d spent more time avoiding it than you needed to complete it? Join the club.
I’d always thought that folding a load of laundry took about 15 minutes. Once I timed myself, I found that I whip through an extra-large load in about eight minutes. Emptying the dishwasher: five minutes. Making dinner? About 25 to 35 minutes, not counting cleanup.
When you know how long you’ll need to tackle a task, you can better manage your time and be realistic about scheduling your day. Remember that tasks sometimes neatly fill the time we allot to them. If a work meeting typically runs 30 minutes, try scheduling it in a 15-minute window. You and your colleagues might find that you can accomplish just as much in half the amount of time.