Is a lack of organization making you crazy? Do you often find you are late or you miss appointments entirely because your life is too busy? If so, getting a handle on things might be just a matter of learning how to organize. You may still have to cut things out of your schedule in order to preserve your sanity, but that is not possible until you first get organized. The place to start is putting it all on paper.
You may find it hard to believe, but almost all of us can be better organized. When the average consumer does lack organization, it is usually not because he or she does not have the ability. It is usually because that person has just never learned some basic principles of organization. That’s where putting things down on paper comes in handy.
Writing down a daily schedule is to the process of organization what a written budget is to the process of financial management. A budget tells you how much money you have coming in, how much must go out to pay your necessary expenses and what you will have left over to spend on other things. Time management is very similar. A written schedule tells you how many hours you have to work with, how much of that time is taken up by nonnegotiable activities, and what you have left over for other things.
The Grid Format
An easy way to start putting your schedule on paper is to use a seven-day grid format. Grids are easy to put together using a spreadsheet and a printer. With a seven-day grid in place, you can either enter each of your schedule items using the computer or just print out blank copies and fill them in by hand.
Some people prefer to break up the grid into hourly blocks that they can fill in to keep track of an entire day. Other people are just fine with morning, afternoon, and evening blocks. There is no right or wrong here. Create your grid with as many time blocks as you need to ensure your schedule remains well planned.
Once your grid is created, fill in all of those events you know are nonnegotiable and do not change from week to week. For example, you may have a medical appointment or a club gathering that meets at the same time every Monday. If you have kids, they may have sports and other activities that do not change from one week to the next. Fill in everything that is known, as far in advance as you can.
Time for the Rest
Just as with your home budget, filling in your grid with activities that are nonnegotiable and unchanging quickly tells you how much time you have left over for other things. This is where you need to decide whether something needs to be removed from your weekly routine. Indeed, you may need to cut back in order to organize and get rid of some of the chaos. On the other hand, you may find that just putting your schedule down on paper makes it easy to manage your time without removing anything from the schedule.
The average person can get by with putting the schedule on paper every 30 days or so. However, if you are exceptionally busy you may need to go several months out. In any case, taking a little bit of time to put your routine on paper will save you a lot of frustration down the road.