Organizing your daily tasks in a simple and productive way is not always easy – especially when you are a parent and/or work from home. I’ve not always been the most organized person and I used to become quickly overwhelmed with the amount of things I had to do each day. Since then, I’ve used some very simple tricks that helped me organize myself, and I thought they might be useful if you still feel like you have too many things to do !
The good old thing you used to do when you were going to school still works : prepare your things the night before. It will obviously save you time before going to work, but you will also have a clear idea of how you will start your day. For example, if you want to work out in the morning, prepare your outfit, your shoes, your equipment and a bottle of water. If you need to cook a meal for a family reunion, tidy up your kitchen and prepare the ingredients and utensils you’ll need. If you have to work on a big project or study, tidy up the place where you like to work and take out all the things you’ll need.
Not only will you sleep better knowing what is waiting for you in the morning, but you’ll also be able to start your activities immediately, without wasting valuable time preparing everything. In addition, it’s a great way to stay motivated, because it’s much harder to give up when everything is ready !
Lists… love them or hate them, they work every time ! Take 5 minutes in the morning (or even better : the day before) and evaluate the priorities of the day and thus list the daily tasks that you need or want to accomplish. One, it will allow you to see more clearly without forgetting anything, and therefore you’ll be more productive. Two, it’s really satisfying to cross an element off of the list with this feeling of “accomplished duty”.
On the other hand, it’s better to keep this to-do list concise, and above all realistic. If you list too many things, you may feel overwhelmed by the workload that awaits you. In this case, it might be difficult to find the will to start… A small list of tasks carried out is better than a large list of neglected tasks.
Your to-do list is written, you’re ready. Start by eliminating every task that will take less than two minutes to perform : organizing your computer desktop, calling a client, making an appointment with the pediatrician, answering an email or starting the laundry machine. These are small, simple tasks that can be carried out almost without even thinking about them. As a result, your list will quickly lighten, and you will have your mind free to tackle longer and more important tasks.
As the day progresses, keep this step in mind and apply it to small things that require little effort : storing something after using it, making your bed as soon as you wake up… Since they only take a few minutes, we tend to leave these tasks aside by thinking that we will do them later. Except that they end up accumulating and we soon find ourselves overwhelmed.
I put this tip into practice with my emails : every time I’d received one, I used to read it and then leave it aside to answer it later. As a result, I used to find myself on the weekend with a lot of emails to write, which could sometimes require several hours of my time. Now, I’m answering as soon as I read an e-mail, and I gain in efficiency. I assume that if I have the time to open the email and read it, I also have time to answer it ! Nine times out of ten, that’s the case.
This tip works particularly well for household chores. The principle is really simple : on your smartphone, start a timer (twenty minutes for example) and set the goal to do as many things as possible before the timer goes off. Wash the dishes, sweep the kitchen, put away the children’s toys, dust the furnitures… As soon as the timer goes off, that’s it for today, you’re done. It’s even more “fun” (ahem, note the quotation marks…) to do it with your partner, or to put your children to work if they’re old enough. It becomes a sort of game that pushes everyone to be the most effective. The one who killed the most tasks during these few minutes wins a piece of chocolate !
This is a good trick to put in place at the end of the day, to overcome the boring little things that have accumulated. It goes quickly, because you know that the timer will soon ring and that you will be done afterwards. It can also help you complete a project that’s not very motivating, or studying a subject that you don’t really like.
I hope this post will help you become more organized !
Do you have other tricks that help you be more effective in your daily tasks ?