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Where Does Your Time Go?

As a Professional Organizer, with more than 30 years of experience, I am amazed at the responses I get when I ask people, “Do you know where your time goes?”

Many of them are working over 40 hours a week in addition to taking work home. This creates anxiety, stress, and can adversely impact personal relationships. Studies clearly show that stress related illnesses cost companies millions of dollars each year!

Here are the most common causes of the working overtime (or just working TOO much!).

  • Being “over-programmed” at work
  • Always being interrupted
  • Being disorganized
  • Solving problems at work that others should be solving
  • Always saying “yes” (never saying “no”)
  • Failure to delegate

Can you relate to some of the items in this list? If you answered “yes,” stop and take the time to get a clear understanding of where your time is going.

The first step is to list ALL of the activities that you do.

  • Identify the time wasters
  • Determine what you SHOULD be doing
  • Determine what you would rather be doing
  • Determine what tasks take your time and really require your expertise
  • Set goals and priorities
  • Determine what tasks will help you reach your goals, and focus on them
  • Schedule tasks that you tend to procrastinate about, such as submitting expense reports

I recommend using a daily planner, with a vertical weekly format, that has time increments from 7:00am-7:00pm which makes it very easy to structure your day.

Schedule tasks, phone calls, and emails, on your calendar, as well as appointments.

Color coding tasks by category, such as marketing, billable time, networking, etc. will help you see where your time is going. My color coding is green for billable time, purple for marketing/networking, blue for calls to make.

Track where your interruptions come from on your calendar.

A manager I worked with did this and learned that between 9:00-5:00 he had 26 interruptions. Only 3 were A priorities,10 were B’s, and 13 were C’s. This manager was interrupted every 8-9 minutes, 6 times every hour, a WHOPPING 40 to 50 times each day. If the interruptions were only 3 minutes each, that is 2 hours a day – just for interruptions. Interruptions are going to happen, but you should be very discerning about whether the interruption is more important than what you were doing before being interrupted.

If friends and family interrupt you with phone calls during the workday, set specific ring tones, which will help you determine if you want to answer the call or let it go to voice-mail.

Identify tasks that you can delegate.

Determine who you can delegate them to.

Plan projects and break them down into small sub-tasks.

It was Mark Twain who said, “The secret of getting ahead is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

If you keep finding yourself overwhelmed at work, managing your own workload as well as that of others, I can help. Call me to discuss how I’ve helped other business owners and managers streamline their day and cut down on the number of hours they work weekly!

Nancy Black
(978) 922-6136