Sometimes getting through busy days can seem like the most impossible task the moment your alarm goes off in the morning. It can be even worse on a non-work day when all you really want to do is binge watch Netflix or sit on the back patio and day-drink. But there are ways to plan around and through a busy day so you can still get a lot done, without going into stress overload or do-nothing shutdown mode.
1. Make a Schedule, Not Just a To Do List
What happens on a busy day is you have the things you know you have to do and the things you want to do. But putting these just on a To Do List is not enough because we all have the tendency to over-plan. You’ve been there, I’m sure. Your To Do List becomes 20 deep on a day where you have three meetings and a dinner. It can’t all happen and most of it won’t… unless you set yourself a schedule. Only then will you be able to break out your day by hours or minutes and have a good idea of how much time you have. Fill in those times with things you know are manageable. I posted an example on my Instagram Feed this morning. While my schedule today was mostly errands and personal goals, it helped me plan out what I likely could get done today, and what I needed to save for my next free day. Speaking of likely to get done…
2. Allow for Flexibility, but Not TOO Much Flexibility
A schedule is a bit like a program at a wedding, somebody is going to get married at the end of the day but that doesn’t mean the cake needs to be cut at exactly 6:00 p.m. Give yourself a pass to be flexible with your schedule. If you want to eat lunch and squeeze in a couple of YouTube videos while at work, treat yourself! Just make sure that when the clock turns to the next task, you are also moving on. This keeps you going on days when you feel like all you could do is binge watch Season 4 of Orphan Black instead of, say, write a blog post. Also, we can never really plan how long a kid’s birthday party, work meeting, or hair appointment is going to last (all those things can go on forever), so if it at the end of the day your 4-5 p.m. time slot becomes just answering emails or helping clean up, give yourself a break.
3. Treat Tasks Like Meetings
If cleaning your bathroom was a task you definitely had to attend like your weekly staff meeting, you would do it. I, personally, hate cleaning – love to organize, but hate to clean. Therefore, when it gets to the point where it’s just unacceptable that I don’t clean, I schedule the task as if it were a meeting. It not only goes on the daily schedule, I put it in my phone as an appointment with a set reminder. Therefore, if I fall into a reading binge, I actually will hear my phone sound an appointment reminder. While I will ignore it at first, I eventually feel so guilty about not doing it that I drag my unwilling feet to complete the task.
4. Don’t Schedule Everyday
This is really just about getting through an abnormally busy day. A good old-fashioned To Do List will work for most days. The great thing about To Do Lists is that they are rolling. I’m currently working through a whopper of a To Do List at work right now, so instead of scheduling my day to fit what I need to do on this list, I print it out at the beginning of every week and highlight what I hope to accomplish during that week. Keep your “Busy Day Schedule” for things that must or should get done before you end the day while still keeping all of your meetings or appointments.
5. Find Time Even if You Don’t Think You Have Any
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like I’m busy all the time but the truth is I, like many of my contemporaries, spend way too much time on social media/playing games on my phone. Full disclosure, I also don’t have kids or a significant other so I have more time than most and even I still feel about 90% of the time that I don’t have enough time. What bothers me about my own bad habit is that I let it become an unnecessary time suck. What I think takes only 5 minutes, takes 30 and then I go to bed not having folded my laundry which I definitely could have done when I was trying to beat Level 127 of Bubble Witch or just had to fall down the rabbit-hole of reading responses to Trump’s latest tweet. The point is, technology is great, but it’s also slowly eating away at things you want to do. Allow yourself technology as a treat, not the norm. Suddenly you will find you have more time to get things done.
At the end of your busy day, just remember that you are only human. If you decide to trade time with your family or friends or go to happy hour with a co-worker, don’t sacrifice this just to learn how to make your own organic garden or to do an unnecessary project the boss hasn’t even asked for yet. It’s essential to do things that make you happy as often as possible. There will always be tomorrow. Plus the better you get at planning your time, the more you’ll realize you can treat yourself in small ways.
A Note to my Dedicated Readers – For those of you who have been there since I started The Messy Organizer, I apologize for the hiatus that has been taking place over the past few weeks. A change of job led to my energy being used elsewhere and then the guilt of not posting just snowballed into a 3-month break. Rest assured, this was a break and not a breakup. Going forward, I plan to post once a week on Sundays or Mondays and to keep my Instagram and Facebook page spewing out new organization ideas thrice weekly. My other social media, Pinterest and Twitter, are still great ways to connect and I will be updating them when the wind moves me. Thank you for all being great lobsters, hello to the new Paul Rudd’s, and now I will go watch Friends.