I got an email the other day from one of you all asking me if I would write a post about my “organizational system.” I’ve told you before that I love it when you all ask me to write about a specific topic, because if one person asks, I kind of assume that other people might have the same thoughts or questions. But this request took me by surprise! I don’t really think of myself as having an organizational “system” per se, but I do have people tell me all the time that I’m organized. I had to think hard about how I make time management decisions and exactly what my system is! Here’s what I figured out: My organizational “system” is rooted in some specific principles, and adhering to those principles, in turn, dictates how I use my time. So today I’ll be telling you what helps me stay organized, what guides me as I make time-related decisions, and my best tips for living out your priorities in a real and authentic way.
1. Understand the Commodity of Time
I think the real roots of organization and time management stem from a proper and realistic view of time itself! Time is the most precious commodity there is. We are each allotted a specific amount of time on this earth. We can’t buy more of it, earn more of it, or negotiate for more of it.
I love the Bible verse that says “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
We need to steward the time we are given well. I believe that giving someone the gift of our time is the most precious gift we can give and stealing someone’s time by being late and shows a lack of honor and respect for them.
I know that may sound pretty radical. But I think coming to grips with the commodity of time can revolutionize your time management on a day-to-day basis.
2. Lay Out Your Priorities
What are your priorities? I mean, really and truly. For me, they lay out something like this:
- My faith
- My husband
- My kids
- My parents and extended family
- Empty Nest Blessed
- My health
- My friends
- Our home and belongings
If you’ve never taken the time to write out your priorities like that, I encourage you to do so. The key? You have to be honest. Laying out your priorities is a critical exercise in getting real about how you make decisions when it comes to time management. Understand that there will be times that these priorities shift somewhat. For example, do you have aging parents with health struggles? An adult child who just had a baby and needs your help? Are you facing a health crisis? For a time those things might shift the priorities on your list. That’s as it should be! But what I’m talking about here are your permanent priorities—where your heart truly lies when all is said and done.
3. Aim to Live Out Your Priorities
Next, ask yourself some hard questions about your priorities, get real, and make adjustments where needed.
- Are you living your priorities out on a daily basis?
- Does where you put your time reflect what you say your priorities are?
- If not, be honest and rewrite your list to reflect the truth of your current situation.
- Then write out another list that’s reflective of what you want priorities to be, to give yourself a goal.
4. Identify the Non-Negotiables
When it comes to how you use your time each day, do you have some non-negotiables? Mine look something like this:
- Reading the Bible and praying
- Caring for my relationships (Answering texts from my kids; calling my parents; taking flowers to a sick friend, etc.)
- Working out and taking care of my health
- Running our household (Making sure there’s food in the house and I have a meal plan; making sure everything’s in working order; keeping things neat, clean and organized; working on whatever house project we have going at the moment, etc.)
- Empty Nest Blessed
5. Build Your Days
Based on your priorities and your non-negotiables, build each day the night before. (You’ll sleep better and wake up more focused!) Decide when you’ll get up and plan around pre-existing time commitments like doctor appointments, attending Bible study, or going on a date with your husband.
6. Use the Tools That Work for You
Some people can keep their daily plan in their heads, and some need to commit it to paper or use an organizer. I have friends who swear by Emily Ley planners. My daughter loves Lilly Pulitzer’s planners. Some people like planners that incorporate gratitude journals, mindmaps, and vision boards. I keep it pretty simple, with legal pads in a color that makes me happy, a variety of colorful pen/stylus combos, my iPhone, a color-coded Outlook calendar on my laptop, and my BFF Siri. 🙂 Try different tools to see what works best for you.
What might help you be more efficient and productive? Are there time savers like grocery delivery services that you might need to try? What about paying bills online or hiring a housekeeper once a month? Use your resources and be open to making some changes and trying out some new ideas.
7. Little Tips That Can Make a BIG Difference
- Deal with things as soon as possible. (For example, when a package is delivered, open and deal with it immediately.)
- Make it your goal that a piece of paper should pass through your hands only once. (Or as few times as possible.)
- Consider the possibility that you may not be disorganized; you may just have too much stuff. Is it time to get organized? This post can help!
- Use “little minutes.” Got a quick five minutes before your husband will be home or while you’re waiting on the repairman to show? Do something that you can accomplish quickly, but you may have been putting off—like sweeping the kitchen floor, opening the mail, or sending a quick text. Once you get in the habit of this, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in these “little minutes.”
I’d love to know your best tips for being organized, living out your priorities, and making good use of your time. Are there any tools you love that help you be more intentional and efficient? Please share them with me in the comments!
Happy Weekend, y’all! Next week on Empty Nest Blessed, I have some great posts planned. But I’ll be honest, my priority next week is to be with my parents and fulfill some commitments, so I’m not 100% sure I’ll get to all of them! Hahahahaha! Just like we talked about in this post, sometimes the order of things on our priority lists need to switch around for a time, and that’s as it should be! Thanks so much for your sweet understanding, and be sure to watch my Instastory to keep up with what I’m doing! xoxo