I’ve been home recovering from a cold for the last three days, so I’ve had an opportunity to step back and observe myself when I am on an unstructured schedule. Specifically, I’ve been able to see how I use my time when I have “all the time in the world”.
This has been a particularly busy time for me. In addition to a full client load, I am directing an off-off-Broadway musical which opens in two weeks, which means that free time has been at a premium. That’s probably why I got sick. While I don’t like being sick, I welcome the free time.
Here are some of the observations I’ve made.
Everything takes longer than you think it will. I start each day with a prioritized list of things I want to accomplish that day. At the beginning of the day, I have every confidence that I will do them all. By lunchtime, I’m not so sure. By the time I have to leave for evening rehearsal, it’s clear that some things will have to wait until tomorrow. That is why it is so important to prioritize your list. You won’t get it all done, so make sure you do the most important things first.
If you’re procrastinating, it’s usually for a reason. I put off writing this Organizing Tip for the last two days. I kept prioritizing things ahead of it. I planned to get it done on Tuesday, and now it is Thursday. Even today I had trouble getting to it. Why? I finally realized that it was because I wasn’t clear on what I wanted to write. Once I decided that writing about my inability to get started was a worthwhile topic, I was able to get started. That’s why it is important to analyze why you are procrastinating. Identifying why will help you to overcome your reluctance to start the task.
If you don’t write it down, it won’t get done. My sister e-mailed me yesterday to ask me if I’d done something that we talked about in August. I had forgotten about it, so I added it to my list of things to do, and I got it done this morning. We all lead very busy lives, and we can’t keep everything in our heads. That’s why it’s important for you to have some method of capturing to-dos. It can be on paper or electronic – whichever you prefer – just as long as you use it consistently.
Be flexible. Things come up unexpectedly, so you can’t schedule every minute of the day. You need some unplanned time to take care of things you didn’t anticipate. Leave some time between activities. If you have to prepare for a meeting, don’t wait until the last minute. If you have to be somewhere at a certain time, leave earlier than you need to. It will greatly reduce your stress level to have that cushion of time. Expect the unexpected.
Tomorrow it will be back to my usual schedule of seeing clients by day and rehearsing by night. Maybe a few days of enforced rest isn’t such a bad thing!