Let’s face it, we can’t do it all ourselves and we can’t do it all at once. If you find your schedule cluttered and unwieldy, with missed appointments, a voluminous master task list and endless to do’s slipping through the cracks, it’s time to streamline.
I am currently training with Julie Morgenstern to learn her groundbreaking Time Management From the Inside Out coaching method and I want to share with you 3 secrets to help you take control of your schedule and your time.
What is very compelling about Julie’s model is that she has found a way to what she calls “concretize” time. She likens a cluttered, disorganized scheduled to a cluttered and disorganized closet. So in order to organize and declutter your schedule, Julie suggests of course, letting go of things that don’t serve you and creating distinct blocks of time or “buckets” for like items or activities. So for example, all errands get grouped into one bucket, family time goes into another bucket, self care has its own bucket (which she suggests keeping sacred!). For work, processing email has it’s own container of time, phone calls are in another container, strategic planning and creative time have their own buckets. Everything has it’s place!
Below are three tools from the Time Management from the Inside Out model to help you take charge of your schedule and your time!
Use the 4 D’s
Think of it like purging a closet – use the 4 D’s to pare down your schedule so that you are doing the things that you do best and letting go or at least minimizing the rest. How exactly do you let go of things in your schedule that you neither do well nor particularly enjoy? Use the 4 D’s
- Delete – eliminate tasks that will not move you toward your big picture goals and consider tasks that will help you accomplish more than one goal. In Time Management from the Inside Out Julie gives the example if you’ve designated Sunday’s as family time and you have three options to, a movie, a picnic or going for a bike ride, since one of your goals is to get in shape, biking wins out. Another way to delete tasks is to learn the art of saying No.
- Diminish – simplify tasks. An example of diminishing a task is paying bills on line or better yet, setting up automatic bill pay instead of writing out checks. Julie argues that not everything needs to be done perfectly so let go of perfectionism and take advantage of shortcuts to get things done faster and more efficiently.
- Delegate – this one is pretty straightforward; delegate tasks to your spouse, significant other or get the kids involved in household tasks. Hire an assistant for your business, send the laundry out or hire a housekeeper to help with housekeeping. This will free you up to focus on quality time with family and friends and for activities that will move you toward your big picture goals.
- Delay – Ask yourself, does this task need to be done right now? For example, do you really need to organize your desk drawer or check your email while a big work deadline is looming? Delay non-essential tasks to a later time. Being proactive about this will create an uncluttered space to accomplish the task at hand.
Filter your To Do’s
One of the foundational pieces to the Time Management from the Inside Out method is using one, consistent system to capture all your appointments and to do’s. Whether you swear by your paper planner or prefer a digital calendar, the principle is the same, use that one system as your “go to” place.
Rather than having a long running to do list, Julie suggests filtering your to do’s into your planner. So for example, “pick up dry cleaning” and “grocery shopping” would go into the bucket of time on Saturday morning you have allocated for errands. If one of your goals is to write a book and you’ve allocated Wednesday morning from 10-2 for that, all items related to the book such as research and writing will go into that time slot.
Plan Tomorrow + 2
Planning is one of the universal keys to effective time management. According to Julie, waiting until the morning to map out your to-do list brings on too much pressure. In her Time Management from the Inside Out approach, she suggests spending 15 minutes at the end of each day to plan tomorrow plus two days beyond that. She argues that “Having a 3 day arc gives you context for each activity on your schedule and frees you from worry about what you might be forgetting.” It also prevents you from getting caught up in the urgent and unimportant!
Do you use the 4 D’s to keep your schedule clear and clutter-free? Do you Plan tomorrow + 2? Maybe you have another tool or technique to help you stay on track with your big picture goals. Leave a comment below and let us know!