It's About Time  
By Dian Thomas

Spring is a time for beginnings—what better time to reorganize yourself and your activities. Adopting simple techniques to your own needs, you can learn to manage your time more effectively. The following simple time-savers can help you make room for your favorite springtime leisure activities.

Save Time Through Planning

Defining Goals: It's a good idea to take time to write out what you want to accomplish, both long-term and short-term. Your aim might be cleaning out the garage, which I plan to do this week, completing an important business project, reupholstering your living room set, earning an “A” on an upcoming test, or cooking a delicious family dinner. To make it happen, you'll need to write out your goal, then keep it as an important priority in your daily planning.

Group Priority Setting: Goals are easier to achieve when everyone pulls together. It's helpful to set priorities with your spouse, family, roommates and/or coworkers. You may be wasting time working at tasks you mistakenly think people around you expect you to do.

For instance, a husband and wife each list ten household tasks he/she feels must be done each week, then ten tasks he/she would like to accomplish. The couple can then compare lists to decide priorities together, with tasks appearing on both “must be done” lists receiving top priority.

To-Do Lists: You may already take time each day to list the tasks, chores, errands and appointments that demand your time. But take it a step further by prioritizing the items on your list. Keeping in mind long- and short-term goals, assign each item a ranking according to its importance that day. (You may, for instance, mark the most important items A, next important B, and least important—those you can neglect or postpone—C.) Then follow through by working on each task according to its ranking, taking time for a goal first.

Tickler File: This simple organizational technique can help you take control of your time. In a cardboard file box, place a file for each month or year. Then label 31 folders for the days of a month. As papers, appointments, bills, deadlines, etc., come in, file them in the appropriate monthly file (according to when you should first become concerned with each). Before each month begins, take out the appropriate folder and file its contents in the daily file folders. You'll want to file reminders of birthdays and special occasions in the corresponding day folder as well as bills due to be paid on that date, appointments for the day, assignments and tasks to be accomplished, etc. You can even organize household chores on daily, weekly, and monthly charts and drop them into the proper folder.

Saving Time on Household Tasks: These simple tricks may help you save time on household tasks.

Organizing spices: You can cut cooking time by organizing spices and condiments in a cupboard or drawer. Arrange your spices in alphabetical order, then place consecutively numbered labels (numbers printed on masking tape will do fine) on the organized spices. For instance, locate “sage” (25) by looking in the S's, then replace it quickly when you're finished by placing it in numerical order between 24 and 26.

Labeled Shelves and Cupboards: Keeping items in place is easier for you and your family when shelves, cupboards, and drawers are labeled. Use a label maker or self sticking labels to mark each section of the linen closet, for instance, according to the item that should be stored there. If one section is clearly labeled “twin sheets” and another “double sheets,” laundry and bed making take less time for everyone.

Mounting Recipes: How much time does your family cook take looking up that favorite spaghetti sauce recipe? A little organization can cut cooking time. For instance, place favorite recipes on cards in a Rolodex desk file or in the computer. This file makes it easy to flip thorough and find a particular recipe and stays open during cooking.

Color Coded Filing : Try color coding your filing system. Assign each category of important papers (insurance, deed, warranties, health record, etc.) a different color, then mark files with corresponding colored adhesive labels. You will be able to locate papers at a glance. Avoid the Rush.

Ask a Friend: When challenged with an organizational problem, I will ask a friend that I know is on top of their organizing. I have found several ideas that work well when I reach out and ask.

Plan today to get organized by setting up systems that will support your hurried schedule later. As you have heard, have a place for everything and everything in it place.

Have fun organizing.

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