April, 2004 Balancing Your “Must Do’s” With Your “Want To’s”

(NAPSI)-With today’s hectic lifestyle, we need to learn how to best organize our time to enjoy the things that are important to us. According to Sunny Schlenger, author, “Organizing for the Spirit” (Jossey-Bass, May 2004), and the best-selling “How to be Organized In Spite of Yourself,” it is important to balance your “must do’s” with your “want to’s.” Below are simple tips that help create more time and more enjoyment in a day.

• Track energy level patterns. There are regular cycles when we’re highly productive vs. less motivated. Learn what times of the day you typically feel most energetic and mentally sharp, as well as when fatigue tends to set in. For example, “morning people” would be advised not to leave critical tasks for late in the day.

• Streamline communications. Optimize the time spent on the telephone by employing effective technology. Don’t waste time or energy looking up phone numbers from an address book when services such as Sprint’s PCS Voice Command can store up to 2,500 numbers right in the telephone, allowing you to dial by simply saying the name of the person you are trying to reach.

• Eliminate distractions and interruptions. Keep in mind that it is not the total time available to do something, but the amount of uninterrupted time. Arrange a schedule to include times when the door is closed and the telephone goes straight to voice mail. Focusing helps achieve tasks, notes Schlenger. It also allows for “me” time.

• When your schedule is off track, try the 80/20 rule. From the items that need to be crossed off the daily “To Do” list, there are a few-about 20 percent-that are vital to complete. When Murphy’s Law interferes with a well-planned schedule, it is critical to know what comprises that 20 percent. Mark those with a star. Make sure that those things get done. Even when there isn’t time to tackle anything else, feel fulfilled that the most important and pressing items were completed. In a list of 10 items, finishing the two most important will give 80 percent of the value to be gained from doing every item on the list. Identify and accomplish just those two. Feel confident that the best use of time was made.

• Try the five-minute plan. If procrastination hinders organization, make a commitment to work on a particular task for only five minutes. Once that task is initiated, it will be more feasible to complete.

• Group services wherever possible. For greater efficiency, don’t duplicate motions. Choose a single vendor for multiple services whenever possible. This can be as simple as having the same neighborhood child mow the lawn and walk the dog or as advanced as having a communications company like Sprint provide both your local and long distance on one bill. Streamline life and more time can be found for the things that matter most.

• Remember to take time for yourself. Make self care a priority for both the energy and serenity needed to better care for the significant others in your life.

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