Friday, November 6, 2009

Simplify Your Time: Part 2

If you missed part 1 in this little series, you can find it here.

The second section of the book is about time management tools. Here are some of the tips I took away from this section:

*The author's #1 time principle is to say no when things are out of control. She says that when you feel really overwhelmed, you need to actually schedule time to catch up on basics at home like laundry and your kitchen. (I'm thankfully not in this position much, though I always feel overwhelmed returning from a trip. I think this principle makes a lot of sense.)

*There were lots of tips for writing successful to-do lists, which the author says are "the secret to clearing your mind of mental clutter and accomplishing more each day." (I'm totally a list person--I've really found the "mental clutter" thing to be true for myself. If I write it down, then I don't have to keep trying not to forget. Does that make sense?! It does to me. =) One thing I started doing a couple years ago is keeping a small notepad by my bed. If I think of something that needs attention, I quickly scribble one word that will remind me of it in the morning. Since this sometimes happens in the middle of the night, my list can look quite messy. But the point is that I can relax knowing I'll see the list the next day and don't have to keep thinking about it when I should be sleeping!

*In addition to daily task lists, "a project list includes larger tasks that take more time and steps." The author suggests having no more then ten items at a time on your project list, and assigning projects to a particular season so they have more of a timeline. (This book has inspired me to be more intentional in this area of my life. I always have lots of projects going, and a lot that I want to have going, but it's easy for me to get caught up in my daily tasks and other things that come up. After reading this section of the book, I've come up with a better system for helping me accomplish projects. More on that in the next paragraph.)

*The author suggests putting your to-do and project lists alongside a calendar in a planner. She suggests that there are 4 types of time management systems: relying on your memory, lists and piles, a calendar, and a planner. (This is where things clicked for me. I've totally been a list and pile person. I write my lists on little scraps of paper, in my planner, and on a white board on our fridge. No wonder I've felt so scattered! I'm now using my planner--a cheap but cute student one from WM--as the main way to contain my lists. I'm writing to-do items on the right-hand side of each date, keeping the left side open for scheduled items like appointments. Then on the blank note page between each month, I've started writing my project lists. It's already been a helpful solution!)

*The author suggests using a reusable checklist before trips. (This is a tool I started using after Nathan was born. I tweaked this list and put a copy in a page protector. I use a dry erase marker to check items off once they're packed--so nice to have!)

*I liked this quote: "Prioritizing is the best way to sort and simplify a long list." And on that same subject, I thought this was a helpful tip: "Prioritize by asking the relief question: 'What one task would give me the most relief if I got it out of the way?' Complete that task first."

*The book advises having a weekly routine to help you stay on top of regular tasks. I began doing this a year or so ago. I divided up household tasks (cleaning bathrooms, mopping the floor, etc.) among Monday-Thursday. Friday is for either catching up or relaxing/other projects if I've completed my weekly list. I like that these jobs have become part of my daily routine--less to think about!

As you can see, I'm learning a lot from this book. From the comments I received last time, I know I'm not alone in trying to be more diligent and efficient. That's both comforting and motivating--thank you!

To update from my first post, I've been striving to improve in several areas. For example, I've been slowly working through my e-mail inbox and am presently down to just two messages (from 99) and hope to keep it that way!


Mom said...

Good observations from this book, Carrie -- I'm glad you are find some helpful things in it! I also use a planner for my lists. I've been working at reducing the number of messages in my inbox, too -- but the number I still have is still too high to reveal here! Love you, Mom

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

I really, really, really want to read this book but our library system doesn't have it. They have a couple of her other books, but not this one. ;(

I suppose I might break down and buy it though b/c it sounds like a good one to have and refer to often.

I need to keep a notebook by my bed too. Writing things down lets my mind stop spinning. And I love the relief question. This is great stuff. Thank you for sharing.

gail said...

great review! love that idea of having a reusable trip list. hadn't ever thot of that.

i'm a planner person myself and have way too many projects on the to do list.

love your insights.

Carmen said...

I ordered the book plus one by her on having an organized home. I'm looking foward to reading them and implementing.


Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

I couldn't live without my schedule. It keeps me on task and makes life so much easier to know that I do certain tasks on certain days of the week. I also live by sticky notes. I'll often write the next day's list of things to accomplish on a sticky, the put it on the bathroom mirrow so I'll see it first thing.

Sounds like a good book.