This is a guest post from Jessica Brown, who blogs at In Pursuit of Simple. It’s part of our new series of guest posts, where we find the most talented women on the Internet to share their knowledge.
I’m a planner. A no-apologies, show up early, “Let me write that down,” planner. My Google Drive is filled with spreadsheets and lists, and we may just be one of the only households with a traditional calendar hanging in the kitchen.
If I wasn’t a master planner, I’m not sure how I could possibly manage everything going on in my life right now. I’m planning a wedding, managing my blog, launching my business as a full-time freelance writer, working part-time in retail, and filling the rest of my time as the personal assistant to a local author and motivational speaker. Oh, and sometimes I sleep.
I’m always shocked when someone tells me that they manage their time by “going with the flow.” Sure, that sounds ultra casual and cool, but it’s frustrating to try and make plans with someone who “might” be open that day but it “might” be their best friend’s birthday. Having a system for managing your schedule doesn’t just help make you more accountable, but it helps you recall information as well.
When did I send my taxes in? Shouldn’t my refund be here?
When is the last time I went in for a trim?
Disorganization is a huge problem for American workers. According to a 2006 Boston Globe Report, “43% of Americans categorize themselves as disorganized, and 21% have missed vital work deadlines. Nearly half say disorganization causes them to work late at least 2 or times each week.”
Don’t be a part of the 43 percent!
While every person has a unique planning style, I like to take a multi-pronged approach to time management. I’ve always been a fan of traditional paper planners. I prefer taking notes on paper and love that I can still access my schedule even when my phone is dead or left neglected on our kitchen counter. But with so many clients sending meeting invites digitally, it pays to manage my schedule online as well.
For some people, this seems like twice the work, but it takes about five minutes a month to “synch” my paper planner up with my digital one, and that time allows me to review my entire schedule.
Which planners do I recommend? I consider these the top five, in order, but have an Erin Condren Life planner myself! For 2015, at least.
- Erin Condren Life Planner (2016 planner launched on June 9!)
- The Day Designer (August edition launches on July 15!)
- Moleskin Color a Month Diary Collection
- Poketo From Day To Day Planner
- Anything from Target
Tips for Scheduling Success
Once you’ve set up your Google Calendar and purchased a planner that fits your style, the next step is simply getting into a routine of managing your time more efficiently. Here are a few tips and statistics to help you along the journey:
- Be sure to schedule in downtime. This includes time to email, spend time with family or to do some morning yoga. And just a note, “Three-quarters of surveyed employees saw an improvement in their time management when they exercised before work or at lunchtime,” according to a Nielsen survey.
- Be sure to calculate travel time into your schedule. Many professionals mistakenly schedule meeting during times that they should be getting ready to leave for their next destination.
- If your schedule tends to be more flexible, schedule blocks of time to tackle specific tasks. For instance, if you need to do two hours of volunteer work, schedule two hours to dedicate to this, even though you are free to do it at any time.
- Mark deadlines in your calendar. You never know when you will need to push a project aside and it’s important to know when your work truly needs to be completed.
- Schedule meetings in chunks. That way, you’re not constantly being pulled away from work that requires more focus.
Plan to Start Today
Punctuality is a great goal to have, and it just takes a few minutes a day to organize your schedule and set goals for the week. A line in Alice in Wonderland says, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Get a plan and start down a path that’s truly right for you!
Get more tips on how to live your best life by visiting Jessica’s blog, In Pursuit of Simple.