How Investing 15 Minutes a Day Saves You (Maybe) a Day a Week
November 5th, 2013
Another one of those quips I heard at the beginning of my career was "Plan your work and work your plan." From time to time I have tried that and found that it really does make a difference. My anxiety level, productivity, and general sense of well-being on the job and at home are all helped by planning. Like all the wonderful diets I have used and dumped I eventually lose my enthusiasm for planning. I fall back into living by my old stand-bys of operating on interruptions, procrastinating the important to concentrate on the urgent and feeling overwhelmed by my commitments.
Here's my new "diet" for managing my activities to fit my schedule. I don't go to work on time any more. The first 15 minutes of my work day is writing a reasonable to do list based on priorities like deadlines, importance, consequences of delays and amount of time I have around appointments.
I can get a head start on my written list some days if I think of something the night before that needs to be done the next day. That way I don't spend the whole night fighting to remember that I should do this. I get even farther ahead if I start a to-do on my calendar for things that are coming up. I put it on the calendar as a to do for a date two weeks in advance of the deadline. I don't have to stress about it. When I start my to-do list the day this shows up on my calendar, it just falls into line with the rest of my priorities for that day.
This is short and medium range planning on the job.
Because that works so well, I take another step and spend 15 minutes when I get home in the evenings to put together a shorter list of things that I want to do before winding down for sleep. This one is even easier because I have a "honey-do" list to use as well. "Honey, could you vacuum, feed the birds,walk the dog and finish the dishes?" Updating personal web sites and other little home duties finish out that list pretty quickly. I keep it as short as possible because I like a quiet dinner, a little reading or tweeting, and maybe a bit of TV on demand before sleep--quality family time for "empty-nesters".
What are your secrets for managing your affairs for the amount of time each day offers?