There is never a better place to start than the beginning. This is the first part of the How to Organize series!
I am a firm believer that the first step to any success is a PLAN to get there. I hope in using this process you are able to find time for what is important. Now let’s start a plan to get ahead of your life versus dragged around by it! These are the basics.
You need a pen, a planner of some sort, a piece of paper to write down your priorities, and an Activity log/Master Schedule (see pic below). I am truly old school and I find that if I can have a physical planner, I am happy. I use a planner that gives me the month AND the weekly views. You obviously, have to play around with what works for you. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. The POINT is having it written down. (You can see my completed Priority list and Master Schedule at end of post for reference).
Step 1: Write an exhaustive list of your priorities. They may be “Fixed” or “Variable.” They may happen daily, weekly, or monthly. PURGE! Sometimes just THIS process can help relieve stress and make you feel a little less overwhelmed. The less we are keeping in our mind as a mental check list the better!
- Fixed Priorities: Things in our schedule that happen routinely and are predictable. It can be a mix of things you like and do not like. Examples: Going to work, Kids School schedule, a work out class, an ongoing Drs Appointment, etc.
- Necessary Variable Priorities: Things that need to get done, but YOU have to decide the WHEN. Examples: Grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, paying bills, etc.
- Miscellaneous Variable Priorities: These generally include our wants. Typically these are the areas that just get left out because they are “not as important,” BUT they keep us SANE! Examples: personal goals, hobbies, exercise, time with Jesus, date night with our spouse, etc.
Step 2: Go through your list and mark your task with either an ‘F’ for Fixed, a ‘NV’ for necessary variable, and a ‘MV’ for Misc. Variable. If it’s something you need to do with someone else or someone does it for you altogether, write their name down next to the task.
Step 3: COMMUNICATE. Our lives clearly have many moving pieces. Sometimes you depend on a lot of other people to get things done OR they depend on you. Sometimes YOU don’t depend ENOUGH on others and need to ask for help. Talk to them, get on the same page, and more specifically the same Schedule!
Step 4: Pull out your Activity Log/Master Schedule. Assuming you have talked with all of your “moving pieces,” follow this process.
- Do not plug in anything that happens monthly or bi monthly (this will go in your planner)
- First in your ‘Master Schedule’ plug in everything that is Fixed.
- Second in your ‘Master Schedule’ plug in everything that is a Necessary Variable.
- Third in your ‘Master Schedule’ plug in everything that is Misc. Variable.
Some tips to keep in mind while you are plugging in your tasks:
- Ask yourself when you are at your best? When do you have the most energy to complete a task? Are you a morning or a night person?
- How long does the task generally take?
- Is it something you do throughout the day? If so write it down at the top of the Day of the Week you would like to complete it on.
- When are people available to help you? Are you handing the task off to them or doing it together?
- If your schedule varies a lot week to week because of work, your kid’s schedule, etc, fill out multiple Activity Logs/Master Schedules. Label them Week 1, Week 2, or whatever makes sense.
Step 5: Using the Month View in your planner (or phone) plug in the monthly priorities that are fixed, variable, and/or specific to that month.
- These things can include; birthdays, Drs appointments/other misc. apps, get-togethers with friends/family, date nights, work meetings, school functions, etc.
Step 6: What if something just does not fit? Lets be honest there are those of us who are overachievers, and sometimes we have difficulty saying “No” to someone or some thing. Sometimes we have to say “No” or cut something out EVEN when that something is good. There are seasons in life that we just cannot do it all! Look through your list, highlight what could go. Pray over it; for strength to back out or clarity about keeping it.