Recently, a reader asked me to do a post about organization tips. After I finished laughing out loud, I told her I would give it some thought. What is so funny about organization you ask? The fact that I had never felt more out of control in my life, and I was about to give advice to others, struck me as quite comical.
Once upon a time, I was a high level fashion executive, managing a group of 40 creative and sensitive people, a parade of certifiably insane bosses, and trying to be the best wife and mother I could be. My days started at 6:30a.m. (once my daughter actually began to sleep, that is) and ended at 10 p.m. on a good day. Every moment of those days were scheduled to the max. Although I barely had time to breathe, I managed to be uber efficient. Yes, I had a loving nanny and housekeeper, and a doting assistant that brought me food, water, and other essentials of life. Scheduling, preparation and prioritization were the keys to my existence.
Then, life changed radically. No more job, and no more help in taking care of the commitments of day-to-day life. I had less to do, and seemingly less time to do it in.
I became less organized and more complacent.
Fast forward to the present: I now have a very busy, yet inconsistent consulting practice. I am working many hours, and still need to be responsible for the day-to-day childcare, and housekeeping. I feel out of control and stressed by the pressure of getting it all done.
So, when Susan suggested that I write about organization, I realized that I didn’t just need to blog about it, I needed to DO something about it.
Here are my tips for being highly productive:
1.Sort everything into 3 buckets: “have to do”, ‘want to do” and “other”. Take the “other” and forget about it. Trust me, it just isn’t going to happen, and it’s cluttering up your mind worrying about it. Now that that’s done with, it’s time to prioritize….
2. Make a to-do list, and prioritize the tasks as:” urgent” (that means today people!!!) “as soon as possible” and “long term”. That means painting the living room or cleaning the attic goes on the long-term list. This helps the list look less daunting when you set reasonable expectations.
3. Book appointments with yourself: if you had to be at the airport for a flight at 7 am. would you be there? If you had a doctor’s appointment at 6, would you show up? Of course you would! Now treat your priorities the same. Working out is important to me, and I made sure that I was at the gym before 7 am several days a week. It was pre-scheduled so that I couldn’t roll over and go back to sleep, with the excuse that I would go tomorrow instead. There was never a day that I flew out of bed ready for my morning sweat session, but the fact that it was done before I even got to work was energizing, and liberating. How great is it to cross things off the to do list before the official workday even begins?
4.Lastly, a little trick learned from top chefs (and watching the food channel):
Mis en place, baby! Mis en place is a French term meaning “everything in its place”. In cooking, it means having your tools and your pre-measured, prepped ingredients at the ready. In life, it means putting everything in its place so that you don’t waste valuable time rushing around looking for things when time is tight. For me, it meant laying out my gym clothes, and packing my bag with the next day’s clothing and work projects the night before, so that the early morning routine was quick and fool proof.
As I look at my schedule for the coming weeks, I know that I will need to practice what I preach. It won’t be fun, and it won’t be easy, but it has to be done. I will keep you all updated on how it’s going in subsequent posts. Wish me luck!!
photo: Glasshouse Images