We all know you can’t organize your time. You can only organize how you spend your time. None of us have more than 24 hours in a day. You can’t bank time even though we talk about time as if it was a currency to spend and save. While it’s wonderful to let the day and time to unfold around us, that is a luxury in which few of us can indulge ourselves.
There are certain things, like your job or your responsibilities which make specific demands on your time. I learned the expression: demands on your time from productivity expert, Francis Wade. Read more about him and his theory here.
There are other things that you can choose to do, like take a yoga class, take a nap, get your nails done, have a massage, garden, meditate, or workout at the gym to name a few of my favorites. You want to organize your time so that you can do the things you have to do as well as schedule the things you want to do.
I talked last week about setting up a temporary filing system with action files. If you don’t organize your time to look through them and only continue to fill these temporary action file folders with papers several things will happen.
The actions won’t be scheduled in your calendar.
The file folders will soon be filled up and overflowing.
The purpose of the temporary filing system will be null and void.
Look through each file
You want to organize your time so that you spend a little time each week going through the temporary files one at a time. The purpose is to control the paper clutter by having a place to put relevant documents temporarily. Until such time as you can efficiently take care of them.
Spending a little time once a week or even every other week to look through these files is a small price to pay to keep your paperwork under control. Organize your time so that you have a regular appointment with yourself to make phone calls, pay bills, file documents, and read interesting articles that you have set aside.
The Pending folder is the one where lots of little items get stuck. People put things in this folder when they don’t know where else to put them. I like to put items in the Pending folder that I’m thinking about. The problem is things can linger in there so long that they are no longer relevant. For instance, if the museum has a temporary exhibit that you’re thinking might be good to see and you put the notice about the exhibit in the Pending folder you’ll probably forget all about it unless you organize your time to look into the Pending folder and schedule time to go to the exhibit.
When my children were young, I used to take the Read folder with me in my tote bag. If I got stuck waiting in the carpool line or waiting to pick them up from an after-school activity, I always had something interesting to read. Consider tucking that folder in your tote bag, backpack, or briefcase. If you commute to work, read those articles that you’ve pulled from magazines or documents that need your attention.
The desktop filing system or stadium files that are meant to be a temporary holding spot for your papers will help you if you organize your time to use them efficiently. Going through each file on a regular basis will ensure that there is an in and out flow to each file folder. Tasks will be scheduled, calls and emails returned, papers files and questions asked. Like every organizing system this will work for some people and not for others.
If this is a system you think may work for you, give it a try. If you’d like help tweaking it to suit your lifestyle and you’d like some professional guidance feel free to reach out to me . I’d be honored to help.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization.
I’m a big fan of “holding” systems- having temporary spots for action items that need our attention BEFORE we have time to attend to them. But as you so beautifully pointed out, if we don’t “organize your time” those spots will quickly become overflowing. I’ve noticed with my clients that sometimes they use that overflowing cue to get their attention. That is what allows them to attend and tame the piles, files, and collection areas. And others have an ongoing attention to those systems. So much depends upon how our minds work, the other things going on in our lives, priorities, and many other factors.
That’s a great observation, Linda. I agree. Sometimes the things that grab our attention and make us take action are the ones that are a little out of control! Thank you for your comment.
I review my system every Sunday. It doesn’t take that long to review and plan and it helps me be prepared on Monday morning to hit the ground running.
Sound like a plan that’s working well for you, Janet. Thank you for commenting.