Last time, I looked at a grass roots method to stop being messy and late. A way of stopping the vicious circle of messiness and lateness taking over your house. Hopefully, you will be well on your way to understanding how to create small pockets of calm and tidiness in your day, which can become larger and larger.
Two possible reasons you’re both messy and late
This time I want to start to look at the lateness problem from the top down. Having efficient workstations of the type I outlined in my last blog may not be all you need to break the deadlock. Perhaps you find that emergencies, deadlines and constant ‘firefighting’ mean that you never have time to organise things more efficiently, and that you create mess constantly as a result. There are two possible sources for your lack of time. Maybe you simply have too much to do every day, or maybe you habitually leave things until the last minute (which I’ll look at in part 4 of this blog series).
How to avoid being late by finding your direction
If you have too much to do everyday, then it’s time to take a look at the bigger picture. Start by keeping a time diary for at least a week. Take a little notebook with you everywhere and note down how you actually spent your time. If you skived for an hour over that tea and chocolate biscuit, when you thought you’d only be ten minutes, note that down. We aren’t here to judge, just to make things better and that will be easier with an accurate picture of how you spend your time. Then steal another half an hour in the way that I suggested in part 1, on the weekend, to do some assessing. Start by listing what is important to you and what fulfils you both at work (if you work) and at home. Then take a look at your time diary and ask yourself if the way you spent your time actually reflects this? If it doesn’t, make the changes you need to. This alone may stop you procrastinating, and will certainly show you what is truly important to prioritise.
How to avoid being late by being realistic about your workload
You might be chaotically messy and late because you’re simply expecting yourself to do more than is possible. If this is you, you may have to acknowledge that there’s too much responsibility in your life in the next year for you to be able to grow and learn and develop as much as you’d like to. Sometimes you need to accept that, for instance, you have responsibilities to young children or your aging and frail parents just now, and shouldn’t be putting additional pressure on yourself to make big career changes or gain further qualifications, until you are freer. Or that you need help in form of carers, cleaners, help from family members or an assistant. This isn’t letting yourself off the hook. It’s a way of making sure that you don’t overload yourself insanely, and that you won’t look back with regret.
How to avoid being late by allowing yourself a little buffer time
Women in particular are not good at keeping some ‘buffer time’ sacrosanct in their day. They fill it all, not allowing for the inevitable delays or emergencies that come up. I know this comes out of a very laudable sense of duty, but it isn’t actually very helpful. If you’re a woman and you really want to be ‘beautiful’ then one of the cheapest beauty boosts you can give yourself is a little ‘grace’ time for every task. No one looks pretty when they’re harried and rushing. Resign yourself to cutting out a couple of things when you find yourself pushed for time, and watch as the whole day runs more smoothly. Or to habitually doing less, and enjoying things more. You deserve that, you know…
How to avoid being late by prioritising
If you aren’t rushing in the wrong direction, it’s possible that you’re trying to achieve five or six major goals all at once. Don’t believe all those ‘multitaskers’. Trying to achieve six goals at once is not more efficient. In fact, it’s going to take much longer than if you concentrated on a single one at a time until you got to the end of your list. That’s because, when you are focussed on one thing, your subconscious mind can obligingly help you by giving you good ideas. Working on six goals at once confuses and paralyses it. It is best to concentrate on no more than two goals at any one time. That way you can get onto the next ones on your list faster.
Next time, I’ll tackle feeling that you have to work all hours, just to stay afloat.
To find out more about how to make your house a haven of organisation, download an excerpt of ‘Banish Clutter Forever’.