Published - March 2005

By Dave Jakielo

Tips to Organize Your Time

You hear it all over corporate America: “Do More with Less.” It’s the 21st century mantra for downsizing and reducing costs. It’s also a recipe for stress for the few who are left to do the doing.

Trying to maintain the same level of performance with fewer resources is a never ending struggle. Whether we’re a president or a mail clerk, we all have only 24 hours in every day. Too many of us run out of week long before we run out of work.

Balancing work and personal life in those 24 hours requires the mastery of certain skills never taught in school. How can we increase productivity without continually sacrificing personal time? The key is how we utilize our time. Here are some strategies for accomplishing more in the same amount of time.

The great paper shuffle consumes an enormous amount of our precious time. On average, we touch each piece of paper that crosses our desk over a dozen times—shuffling it from the right pile to the left pile to the credenza, etc.--before we act upon it.

To facilitate handling all that paper, Patty Kreamer a professional organizer, has come up with the EASY Method:

E - Eliminate it. Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen if you don’t save this piece of paper? If there aren’t any consequences, then throw it away instead of adding it to a pile and shuffling it another dozen times—and then throwing it away.
A - Act upon it. If you can complete the task involved with the piece of paper in less than 15 minutes do it immediately, don’t set it aside.
S - Send it away. Pass it onto whoever should handle it. Don’t add it to a pile to be given away later.
Y - You file it. If you absolutely must keep the document, file it then and there. Don’t add it to the stack—you’ll only have to touch it again.

A To Do list is a road map for planning your day. Having a definite plan gets you off to a fast start by focusing your thoughts. Instead of getting your first cup of coffee, chatting with coworkers, then sitting at your desk and scratching your head as to what to tackle first, establish and maintain a To Do list. Make it out when you leave the office in the evening and have it sitting on your desk for the morning.

List all projects, whether long or short term, and assign a targeted completion date. Then establish a ranking system based on the task’s importance.

1 = Critical must be done ASAP or there are negative consequences.
2 = Important but can wait until number ones are completed.
3 = Nice to do but neither critical nor important.

Then make sure you start with the items labeled with the number one!

After completing a task don’t just cross it off the list and add another. Write the completed task on a success list. I’m always amazed how clients will accomplish 9 out of 10 items on a To Do list and then worry about the one task they didn’t finish instead of celebrating the 90% they did. By looking only at the tasks remaining, we place added pressure upon ourselves. We should spend more time celebrating our victories (completed projects) versus beating ourselves up because we have additional items on our list.

Your success list should contain everything you have completed for the day and you should review it at the end of the day when you make the next day’s To Do list. These simple tools will help lessen your anxiety and replace the feeling of stress with a sense of accomplishment.

We perform faster and better when we are less stressed. So it’s our responsibility to determine what works best for us as a stress reliever. It could be taking a walk, reading, or listening to inspirational or educational material 30 minutes a day. One thing that works for me is taking the time to compliment someone else; if I can help make their day it helps make my day. Taking a stress break gives you a new perspective and renews your energy. Then you can more easily do more with less!

Sign up at my Web site for free Success Tips delivered to you via email. I wish you continue success with much less stress!

Dave Jakielo, Seminars and Consulting, 86 Hall Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15205. Phone and Fax numbers are 412-921-0976. Email Website -

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