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Improving Time Management and Organization: Problems and Solutions

Kaarin Anderson Ryan, PhD 10.9.23

With fall right at our doorstep, this is a good time to think about getting organized as many of us will be spending more time indoors as the weather cools. Organization is a huge term, encompassing images of a tidy home or workspace, neat bookshelves, necessary documents filed either digitally or in a cabinet, schedules and to-do lists that are updated and completed regularly. While these images are good representations of organization, as a concept, organization really starts with how you think about your time and your priorities.

There are a lot of resources out there to help people with organization. For the purposes of this article, I am going to focus on some specific areas that can be problematic, some practical solutions, and some ways to think differently to maximize your time and organizational efforts.

Organizing your environments

Keeping environments organized is both challenging and rewarding. Whether it is at work or at home, having things tidy and easy to find is certainly convenient. However, with busy schedules and having a lot of distractions around us, it can be challenging to prioritize getting organized. A few ways to overcome organization challenges include:

  • Break large organization tasks into small pieces, and only work on one small piece at a time.
  • Work on creating a habit of doing one thing each day to help improve overall organization.
  • Set weekly goals for areas you would like to organize: Desks, closets, drawers, shelves, etc.
  • Declutter by finding a place for everything.
  • Declutter some more by letting things go by donating or selling them.

Remember to keep your goals reasonable and realistic! If you set a goal of cleaning out a very cluttered and overwhelming closet after dinner on a busy work day, you may be tackling more than you should in one day. Maybe do one part of that closet to work on after dinner. Taking on too much can lead to procrastination or giving up.

Organizing your time

Managing time is a key element of organization. We are plagued by distractions, between things going on around us, emails or other notifications coming in regularly, and our own challenges with staying focused. One big barrier is what I would call intentional distraction, which is when we purposefully stop doing something we don’t want to do in favor of something that provides a break. Some of these intentional distractions include social media, checking messages, playing games on your phone, and looking things up.

How to overcome difficulties with time management? It starts with setting your intention by creating a schedule. It is helpful to have daily and weekly schedules at your fingertips, and longer-term schedules readily available. Schedules are effective when you add to-do lists that can help you focus and organize your time. And to keep it manageable, include breaks so you can keep your energy and your mind fresh.

Some strategies to help with organizing your time include:

  • Using a planner (digital or paper)
  • Creating goals each week for what you want to accomplish
  • Keeping to-do lists
  • Setting priorities
  • Be realistic about what you can accomplish each day and each week
  • Include things you enjoy in your planning

Remember that having a plan is the best way to start each day with a sense of purpose. Also keep in mind that when you have taken on more than you can actually complete, you can re-adjust your process and priorities.

In the coming weeks, I will be offering more detailed helpful tips and solutions for time management and organization. Stay tuned!

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