Time Management Tips for Clutterers

Many people think that they don’t have time to keep up with the mess and that they just have to tolerate it as a result. Not so! There are some simple tricks that will keep you on track and make living with clutter a thing of the past.

* Plan your day and workflow so that you always take 15 – 30 minutes to close out projects, neaten up, throw things out, and file. Usually this is easiest to do at the end of the day. Preparing your to-do list at the same time is a good way to ensure that nothing is neglected. This technique works both at work and at home.

* Instead of keeping piles of documents around to remind you of what you need to do, write the task that the document represents on your organizer / calendar and file the papers, probably in a project file.
* Make a list of organizing tasks that you can do while occupied with things that don’t take a lot of brain power (such as watching TV, waiting on hold on the phone, or waiting for food to cook) or are too tired to do anything that requires thinking. Examples of tasks that can be done while on the phone or exhausted include organizing supplies drawers or file folders, neatening your desk, or sorting rolodex or business cards; corresponding tasks at home are sorting laundry, neatening drawers, polishing things, some sewing, and small scale cleaning.

* Leave 15 minutes between appointments for making notes, returning calls, re-filing documents, and preparing for the next discussion. If you can, leave 25% of your time unscheduled so you can deal with unanticipated projects, interruptions, admin work, or on-going projects.

* As much as possible, act on each piece of paper which comes your way as it comes in.  Use the TRAF system: Throw it out, Read it, Respond to it, or Refer it to someone else, Act on it, or File it.  This approach is easy to develop and maintain. Open your mail next to your wastebasket.

* Periodically re-thinking how your home or office are set up will help you find ways to make your space more efficient and better organized. Spend some relaxed time when your mind is fresh mulling over ways to organize your home or office that will make it easier and more pleasant to maintain and use. I find early in the morning the best time for these brainstorm sessions but whatever time works best for you is the right time.

* Record your use of time. This will help you find areas where you can be more efficient and therefore more able to be more organized. Examine the times when you were not efficient to see where you can improve. This is the most powerful tool there is for learning to be more efficient and accomplish your goals. It may be a bit painful at first, but stick with it. Just the process of tracking your use of time will lead to improvements.

* Be calm no matter what your state of organization may be. Becoming agitated about disorder will only impede effective change.

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