Where Did the Time Go?

78-rbc3_36-SFWTime management. Whole sections of bookstore and library shelves are dedicated to time management. Corporate America lives it. Our lives revolve around it. Who has the time to read all that? What do we do with those 24 hours a day we each have? We drive ourselves, and everyone around us, nuts trying to cram too many activities into not enough minutes of the day.

I’m as guilty as the next person about waiting until the last minute to get things done. Case in point, I’m now writing this article two days before my deadline, when I knew quite well four weeks ago I had an article due. So, yes, we bring some of this on ourselves. What to do?

With some planning and thinking ahead, we can help ourselves organize and spend our time better – have some down time, time for family, time for ourselves. It’s not rocket science. It’s mostly about planning and then doing.

Disclaimer Statement: These are some things that I try to use to help manage my time. Maybe they’ll work for you as well.

Budgeting Time (no pun intended): Each month, as I pay bills, I keep my desk drawer open and file the receipts, etc. as I go. Each entry goes into the checkbook and onto my budget spreadsheet for tracking. I have found over time that filing as I go is much less painful than stacking up the invoices to file later. And, it keeps my desk cleaner.

Tax Time: In conjunction with paying bills, I keep a running file for the tax year on my desk and put any tax related documents in that file as I go. Receipts for tax payments, charitable donations, medical invoices, etc. go straight into that file. Toward the end of year, everything gets sorted into categories – taxes paid, interest, dividend payments, donations, medical, etc. Whether you do your own taxes or have a tax service prepare them, getting this file in order saves time and may keep you from missing a deduction.

Calendars: I love my calendar. Everything goes on the calendar whether work-related or personal – always in pencil, never ink. Schedules change and you don’t want a messy, marked up calendar, so keep a pencil with it. I recall when my daughter was growing up that she would write in stuff she wanted to do because she knew I would see it. Evidently this had an influence on her because she now carries her own calendar and, as a purist, only uses a pencil.

Running Errands: In this age of ever-rising gas prices, planning errands is becoming an important tool. What works for me is planning where I’m going and then making stops along the way until reaching the furthest errand point. Grouping errands also works. If I’m going to the post office, I usually stop for gas since the station is on the way, or pick up the dry cleaning. Not only am I saving gas, I’m managing my time by consolidating errands.

Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of the day and plan your next day’s activities. With a small amount of invested time, you can find chunks of time to spend more leisurely. It’s good for you. It works. I have to go now. It’s time to turn in this article!