Organise and Survive!

From time to time we all find ourselves overwhelmed with tasks, particularly women around times of celebration, like Christmas, family visits, holidays, for example, when we juggle work and home. Deadlines loom large and menacing as we all try to – shop for gifts, plan meals, buy food, make the house ready for visitors, look gorgeous, and keep the day job going too! I’ve written before about how we sometimes add to our own stress levels (see Tips for Surviving Christmas) so here are some different ideas for getting organised.

Highly Effective People Day Dream

Stephen Covey, in his book, ‘The Habits of Highly Effective People’ (still available through Amazon) said start with the end in mind. So, taking that principle, spend a few minutes now allowing your mind to take you ahead a few weeks. What are you hoping to have achieved? Work wise what do you need to have finished? At home are there things that you really need to have done? Just close your eyes for a minute and think about it.

If you feel panic rising tell yourself to stop. Allow your body to relax. You may have started clamping your jaw, for example. Try and relax. Be aware of your breathing.

If you are getting tense thinking about all you have to do, that’s a powerful message. All we’re doing is an imagination exercise yet it’s possible that just thinking about the things you need to do is having an actual physical effect on you! Imagine how you will feel post celebrations if you don’t begin to relax a little now.

Get Ready

Now you have spent a little time thinking ahead let’s get practical. The following is something I find useful to do for all sorts of things, work, projects, holidays, parties. You can refine it to your heart’s content; this is the simple version.

  1. Take two different coloured packs of post it type notes
  2. Choose one colour for things that you are happy to do, and one for things that must be done (and don’t fill you with joy).
  3. Start writing out your tasks and be specific. For example, don’t just write ‘buy presents’ but write a note for each person you have to consider. For some people it will be a pleasurable task to buy for, others not!
  4. I mix work and pleasure tasks as I run my own business and my time is mine to arrange. You may choose to have two sets of task lists and do this separately for work; it depends on your preference. Make it work for you.
  5. Put a ‘do by’ date on each one
  6. Distinguish between what’s important and what is urgent and what are both. Important might be getting that report out in time to be read before the holidays, but you still have three weeks so it’s not yet urgent. Urgent could be getting your request in for what you want to eat at the office party this Friday, but it’s not that important!
  7. Now, with all your lovely colourful notes, stick them where you can see them in date order, so that the earliest date is on top. Put them so they slightly overlap but are visible, maybe on a filing cabinet, maybe on the fridge, where you can see them.
  8. One reason they need to be visible is that thoughts about them will come to you at odd moments. You can add to them if you get a brilliant idea and think, for example, ‘I will buy Aunt Gladys a leopard print purse!’ Add it to her post it note.
  9. As you tackle each task take the note down. I put the sticky on my diary page for the day and gleefully throw it away when done.
  10. A beneficial side effect is that it can help stop you over committing yourself. It’s a very visual reminder of what you have to do, to yourself and anyone else passing, and may help you say no now and again. Take a look at your notes. Do you have a good mix of colours or does one predominate? Are all your notes in the pleasure zone? Lucky you if they are! More likely you have a plethora of jobs that must be done. If you have all jobs that leave you cold it’s time for a rethink. (If this is the usual pattern i.e. all jobs you dislike, then maybe you need to do some serious thinking from you, about your work life balance, and whether you are living the life you want).

If you do have a list of ‘not thrilling’ jobs ahead try and put in some things that will please you and give you energy; these will help you manage your stress levels and enable you to do the tedious tasks more efficiently. Can you make a less attractive task more so by doing it with a friend or colleague? Can you turn it into an opportunity to showcase your talents to someone who matters? Is it a personal development opportunity for you? If you can’t change the task, then try and change your attitude towards it.

And if actually getting on with the tasks is a problem at the moment, then take a look here.


Posted on August 15th, 2009 by

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