This post is dedicated to my friend Caitlin who makes me feel like I'm the most organized person in the world.
When my life feels out-of-control and insanely crazy busy, this is the system I use to clear my head and really get stuff done. (I’ve actually been using it for the last few weeks, which is what inspired this post!) It’s not anything special, but I have found that it really works, and it doesn’t require any fancy planners or timers or apps. I made up this method myself, but it’s based partially on the Stephen R. Covey method of prioritizing and it’s also based on an object lesson I had at church when I was twelve or thirteen. You've probably seen it, too. You start out with an empty jar. This represents your day. Then you have a bag of big rocks and a bag of sand. If you put the sand in the jar first, there's not enough room for the big rocks. But when you put the rocks in first, and there’s plenty of room for all the sand, and then some.
I like to think of the rocks as the “Big Stuff” in my day and the sand as just some “Things to Do.” When you separate them, you can manage your time much more effectively.
HOW IT WORKS
You get a piece of paper and divide it in half. One the left side you write “Things I HAVE TO DO Today.” On the right side, you write “Things I WOULD LIKE TO DO Today.” Then you list all your tasks in the appropriate spot. The left side represents the big rocks and the right side represents the sand. If you focus on the rocks first, the sand can just fill in the cracks. I like to do this for an entire week, but I do it one day at a time.
I try to be really strict with myself. The “HAVE TO DO” list is usually full of appointments, events, phone calls, and meetings that will happen whether or not I even show up. If there’s something that doesn’t have to be done today, I put it on the right side. That way you really see how much spare time you have. The right side has things that I want to get done, but maybe aren't time-sensitive or don't have anybody waiting on them. Only you can really decide what goes where. I used to always list Grocery Shopping on the “WOULD LIKE TO DO” list, but I realized that if I didn’t make it a priority, it would never happen! So be smart about how you organize your sections.
Here’s a picture of my list from last week:
I don’t do any prioritizing or color-coding once my list is made. Dividing the projects into two categories automatically prioritizes them for me--the “Big Stuff” has to be done first. I do like to list the tasks on the “HAVE TO DO” side by time, just so I have a little schedule for my day.
I know time-management can be overwhelming and scary, but I think learning to use our time effectively can be really fun! I’m always amazed at what I can get done when I put my mind to it. This system really only works for one day or one week at a time. It won't help you reach your long-term goals or plan a vacation, so be aware of that.
I made an editable template of the schedule I use for this system so I don't have to write out "Things I HAVE TO DO" every time I want to get organized. The template has "Big Stuff" on the left and "Things To Do" on the right, and it's displayed as an entire week. There's also a cute quote at the bottom because that's just how I like things. Take a look at the schedule and if you're interested, download it below.
Thanks for reading!