I’ve attended a couple of great seminars lately on time management. Both presenters touted organization as a key to save search time and increase leisure time. Well, organization does help, I suppose. It really irks me to have to figure out where I put something so that it will be “easy to find” when I need it.
One of Jim’s favorite sayings was “Right here, but I can’t find it.” Sometimes he referred to not being able to find the correct words to say what he meant, or he could be looking for an object. I helped him look for a lot of items even when he wasn’t able to tell me exactly what he wanted to find.
In my job, I have a spacious office, but I have to handle a vast amount of paper. My two file cabinets are jam-packed and with several different projects going at the same time, I have stacks of paper. Most of the time, if I’m looking for a particular piece of paper, I know which stack to search. I’m starting to think that when I go home at night, my papers play musical stacks. When searching for a particularly slippery piece of paper, I might feel like it’s right here, but I can’t find it.
Another time management tool I learned lately was to organize a To-Do list by priority. If something has to be done that day, you place an “A” next to it. A task that doesn’t have an urgent deadline, but must be done soon, is put on the “B” list. Anything else is put on a different list that you check from time to time when you catch up on your “A” and “B” lists, or if you are just totally freaked, and need something less stressful to do.
I’ve always been a believer in a To-Do list, especially if I can find time to list the things I need to do. Lately, I’ve graduated to a To-Do book for my personal life. I’m not joking about that either. I have a small, but thick, notebook that with the words “To-Do” marked boldly on the outside. Now, if I’d only remember to look at it every day. Should I put that reminder on the To-Do list?
One of the suggestions I came away with from the last seminar is to take a few minutes of quiet time at the end of the day and list the “A” and “B” tasks for the next day. Some days this works well and I leave work confident that I’m in control of my own work destiny. Other times, total chaos rules and, just like yesterday, I’m frantically pushing against a deadline—everything goes wrong, and at the end of the day I’m trying to finish up just one or two more important “A” items that I didn’t have time to list.
With today a holiday and Monday my day off, my Tuesday “A” list consists of two folders and three pieces of paper in the middle of my desk weighted down with a stapler. Actually, that might be my “A+” list since I have to be prepared for the monthly board meeting by nine o’clock.
With my involvement in three organizations, writing, publishing, and a day job, my goal is to squeeze in some recreational time and, more importantly, family time. While my head is spinning with all that I have to do, I am shocked that my grandson is graduating from high school and filling out scholarship applications. Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday that his Grandpa Jim sang cowboy songs to him while I held him on my lap.
I realize now that I don’t manage time; time manages me.