Like the clean white pages of a brand new journal, 2016 is ready for you to design. What would you most like to accomplish with your year? Every year I become more and more aware of how precious time is. My youngest son is finishing his junior year in college and honestly, it feels like only yesterday that I was driving him back and forth to middle school. Time is one of our most valuable commodities. And when it comes to preserving this valuable resource, how we spend our time should be carefully considered.  For me, planning how to use my time has always felt like the only way to get the most out of every day.

Since I always want to share with you strategies and ideas that work for me, I thought I would explain my personal methods for using and maximizing my time.  In the hopes that this will help you get the most out of your own valuable time, I have put together 7 steps for getting and staying organized so that you can reach your goals for 2016.

  1. Get clear about your desires for this year.

It’s definitely hard to get motivated to do something that you do not want to do.  So, think about the things you really do want to do. Make a list of what is most important to you.  Don’t hold back, you can always edit your list later.

  1. Pick a planner or calendar. 

You can use a mobile device, a paper planner, a wall or desk calendar. Use what will work best for you. I have a wall calendar to block out big events, I use a planner for more detailed plans and yes, I also use a mobile device to track specific appointments that I make as I go through my daily life.

  1.    Grab a piece of paper and organize your intentions by category. 

Long term projects: such as planning an event (business or personal), de-cluttering your closet, or planting a vegetable garden;

Short term projects: such as preparing taxes, trying new recipes for a dinner party you’re giving, or cleaning out your car; and

Recurring items: such as food shopping (farmer’s market visits) and prep, paying bills, exercising, meditating, personal pleasures like writing or drawing or painting, quality time for family/friends.

  1. Now prioritize. 

Review your long-term projects first and decide which ones you really want to take on this year.  Remember they are called long-term projects for a reason and because they take a long time, you have to be discriminating.  The most important thing about a long term project is completing it.  The odds are that getting only halfway through one of these projects means that you’ll never go back and complete it. List your long-term endeavors in order of importance or timeliness. Now consider how much time they will realistically take to accomplish and lay them out in your calendar accordingly, giving enough time for each.

Here’s an example. I had set a goal of de-cluttering my 30+ years of collected clothing this past year. I knew it would take over a week if I did nothing else and that was not an option for me, so I allotted one day a week for 8 weeks to work on that project. In truth, it took about 10 weeks to complete. But it was only possible because I had allocated the time to do it. Make sense? Now apply the same principles to short-term projects.  Finally, don’t forget to go back to your calendar or planner and enter in your long-term and short-term projects.

  1. Recurring projects can be organized monthly, weekly or daily.

Again, refer to your master list and think about what you need to do every day, week and month. If it helps, once you examine this more closely, you might want to reorganize that one list into three separate lists, one each for monthly, weekly and daily.  For instance, I know that I need to go to the farmers market and do my food prep one day a week, so for me that is every Sunday from about 10 to 2. I also need to water my plants once a week, which happens for me on Saturday mornings. Two Fridays per month I spend writing. So, that gets put on my calendar at the beginning of each month, which allows for different events that might be coming on a particular month (such as travel, or a seminar, or visitor). Most every day I want to meditate, exercise, prepare and enjoy my juices and my meals, and spend a certain number of hours working on my business. Since every day is a little different for me, I tend to figure out my daily entries one day at a time, but I know that if I want to do these things every day, I must allocate time for them. And each thing gets put into my calendar as if it were a doctor appointment.

  1. Remain Flexible.

Sometimes something unforeseen happens. It could be an old friend who happens to be in town for just one day, a sick child or an unscheduled business opportunity that has great potential. Whatever form it takes, you want to be able to be flexible and know that you can and will get back to what you planned to do. For me, just knowing that I have it all written down and that I know what is due and when makes it easier for me to go with the flow.

  1.   Periodically re-evaluate your calendar or planner. 

Make reviewing and updating your calendar a part of your natural routine.  If there is something that is no longer working for you, let it go. Maybe you have a chance to take a class on Sunday mornings and that means that you’ll miss the farmers market. Look for an alternative, such as joining a CSA (Community Service Agriculture) instead and trying that for a month. It’ll free up your Sunday mornings and you will still get your fresh produce from a farm, if that is important to you.  Perhaps you have packed things too tightly into your schedule or too unevenly. It’s a work in progress. Once you see that something is not working, take another look and redesign your schedule. This is your life and you get to decide how you want to live it!

And there you have it! One important word of advice, though:  be sure to schedule in time for yourself, whether you love playing tennis or piano, or painting or reading. Whatever gives you pleasure needs to be at the top of your list. As I said before, this is your real life.  2016 is yours, enjoy it!

Here’s to a great 2016!

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PS…Starting ‪on Jan 11th, I am offering a FREE 10 day challenge to

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and I do hope you’ll join me. You can learn more about it here!

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