How do you find time to organize if you don’t have any free time? It’s a fair question.
The first part of this answer has to do with choices. We all make choices, otherwise known as prioritizing. I’m doing it right now as I choose to write this article instead of the 30 (300?) other things that are on my task list. Sometimes priorities are set for you by someone else, like your boss. Sometimes one thing has a clear and weighty benefit over another task. Most times, however, life is not so simple. There are wants, needs, likes, dislikes, energy levels, guilt, cognitive arousal, and a host of other factors going into what we choose to work on first or next.
A lot of people who ask about finding the time to organize are people who have internalized the message that they “should ” be more organized.
The reality, though, is that those same people are good at other things, are interested in other things, and like to spend their time on other things. They really only need to re-prioritize to give organizing more time in their day if something is broken. If they are paying bills late, or not at all. If they can’t have people over because there is nowhere to sit. Those folks who need to spend time on organizing will eventually find the time, just like a person will find the time to exercise…or not.
The second part of this answer is more about the physical property of time. We humans are just not good at estimating time and at feeling the passage of time. We have a clock, but that only tells us what the current time is. We’ve all experienced waiting for something that seemed like it took forever, and having a scheduled event sneak up on us. A calendar also shows us the current location in time, but a blank calendar is a map, not an itinerary.
The two tools that help us “find time” to get anything done are a timer and a planner. A timer helps us measure distinct quantities of time. The one I’m liking best these days is the TimeTimer app, on which a red disk to disappears as time elapses. This tool is especially great for kids and distracted individuals, as they have a solid visual cue on passing time, and are usually motivated to beat the clock.
A planner is a calendar were you mark upcoming commitments. Plain or fancy, paper or electronic, the real difference between a planner and a calendar is whether or not you record your future appointments in it, so you can start to see the day “filling up”. If you think of each hour in a 24 hour day as a bucket, then you’ll realize that you can only fill the day with 24 buckets, in the same way that you can only put 12 eggs in a dozen-piece egg carton.
So how do you find time to organize, or do anything else for that matter?
• Be aware of your priorities, and be willing to re-set them if necessary.
• Use a planner to schedule out your days.
• Use a visual timer to work towards specific short-term deadlines.
What helps you find time?
Guest Blogger: Darla DeMorrow, Certified Professional Organizer ®.