Most of us get behind on our plans for the day at some point – and from my experience in coaching thousands on time management – one issue crops up constantly which can become the culprit: NOT making time for everything related to a task. The little ‘extra’ steps are really necessary in order to be truly done with something or to make that task more effective.
For example – most people will schedule time to wash and dry their clothes (which doesn’t require much of our actual time since we have machines to do all the real work). But few remember to schedule the time to fold, hang and put away their now clean laundry. The same goes for grocery shopping. Many will plan the time to drive both ways to the store and do the actual shopping – but then fail to set aside time for putting the foods away and then cleaning or prepping those that should be. Just this morning I was washing and hulling fresh strawberries. Ideally, I would have liked to do that as soon as I got home from the store so that the strawberries would last longer. But since that day was tight time-wise – I am just getting to it now – 2 days later when ultimately the day I brought them home would have been ideal.
The same goes for when you bring papers into the house or your office, don’t just dump them on the desk or a counter. Decide where they need to go in order to be handled. Put the obviously unnecessary items directly into the trash; place the ones needing to be read where you can get to them; and those requiring more time where they won’t become lost. And take the next step – schedule to deal with the papers and the tasks associated with them. I have actually postponed getting the mail because I was in the habit of dealing with the papers the moment I brought them inside. So, I waited until I could finish the entire task. This is how to avoid a paper pile-up issue.
I’m sure you can find many tasks you have in your day where there are a few more ‘steps’ to actually finish the task that you are starting. Many of us get off track because we forget, or don’t allow time for the entire project to be completed – leaving many things almost done. But ‘almost’ is not done.
So, when you schedule a task – and yes, you should do that – don’t forget about the details around the main task itself because you probably aren’t done unless you do. Think ahead about the things you may need to do to make sure your efforts haven’t been a waste – such as not folding and hanging up your clothes after washing them resulting in a wrinkled pile of clothes you shouldn’t wear in public. Putting papers away when done with them so you don’t have a huge overwhelming pile to contend with later on.
A little forward planning will save you time and even money if you go that one step further and do the smaller associated tasks too.