Thursday, April 18, 2013

Breakdown Alert!!!

Last week was...well, I have no words to describe last week. "Crazy" doesn't even come close. "Hectic", closer. "Too-many-things-to-do-at-once-and-no-time-to-do-them" is more like it. Honestly, I don't know what happened. The previous week was sort of like a week off, I didn't have many tasks to take care of and I pretty much chilled for most of it. But last week I was suddenly showered with a never-ending to-do list: I lost my passport (that means paperwork and reporting it missing to the police), I have grant papers to fill in, tax papers to fill in, phone companies to talk to, lab practice, TWO exams (the same day!!) etc etc. I felt my head was about to explode. So it was time to take control again and break out the time management skills.

Before my disappearing act in December I posted an entry on time management (read here) and it was going really well...until exams started. January and February were without a doubt the worst months. Exams every week, plus the move, the adjusting to the new flat, I was ill for 2 weeks in January etc. It was wild. And this is just a repeat of it all.

So, what to do in these situations? I find it helpful to write down everything I need to get done to get a visual image of how many tasks I need to complete. Next, I prioritize. You know, make lunch before organizing photos or emails. Some things just have to wait. I find that if I try to do more than one thing at once, either one or both turns out horribly. This said, I do believe in multitasking when possible: reading emails while the water boils, clean one room while the washing maching is on, make phone calls while picking up clutter... Because the worst thing about not having enough time is that something has to be left for later, and I can't possibly study when the room looks like the aftermath of a nuclear attack. So these little tips and tricks help keep things under control:
  • Give everything a place. First things first, when you have time, before your schedule gets crazy and wild again, try to organize your house giving every item it's own place: the blender in that cupboard in the corner, the remotes in the organizer on the coffee table, magazines on the rack, clothes in the cupboard, etc. You get the pic. That way, once you've finished using something, you'll know where to put it back. 
  • Put things back where they belong once you've finished using them. Don't be tempted to leave it somewhere else to put away later (later hardly ever comes!!)
  • Pick up clutter while doing other tasks. No matter how hard you try not to, that jacket was left on a chair and those shoes were left on the floor. While talking on the phone or waiting for the water to boil, do a quick pick up of everything that doesn't belong where it's been left. You can put all of it in a "clutter basket" for later, if you're short on time (but at least it's out of the way).
  • Put a load of laundry on in the morning, before doing anything else and hang it out as soon as possible. Clean, read, check emails, while the machine's running.  
  • Make a calendar and check it regulary: this way you won't forget that appointment you booked three months ago or to give back those library books. If you're really up for it, you can colour coordinate your tasks and appointments!
  • Take care of yourself. Eat, exercise and sleep. You stay on top of it all if you're low on power!!

These are just a few tips to get you started. I'm sure you all have so many others to keep things on track (and stop any brains from exploding over the kitchen floor...too graphic?) Please share any other time management tips you may have in the comments below!! 

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