When I was a kid, my mother forced me to be friends with the next-door neighbor’s daughter, who, to this day is the most irritating and obnoxious know-it-all I’ve ever met. We would argue about the most absurd things imaginable, such as how many hours were in a day. She swore there were only 24, while I believed (and still do), there were 100 hours in a day.
Okay, so I lost that battle, but I can still get more done in a day than she ever could.
Time management is not so much about saving time as it is about maximizing what little time we have. In other words; so what if it takes you 20 minutes now to do something, such as setting up a year’s worth of hair or dentist appointments, as long as it saves time three, six or nine months from now?
The following list of ten hints should make your New Year’s a little less stressful and a lot more organized. There’s no need to do everything at once. Take it slow and enjoy the journey to organizational bliss.
- Use a calendar: Between writing 2 columns, working full-time, volunteering, lecturing and playing tennis, I’m a slave to my calendar. Be it digital or hand-written, the only way to get – and stay – organized is to use a calendar. In the end, your life will be calmer and more organized.
- Write a “to-do” list every day: This is a no-brainer! You need to actually write things down on a piece of paper every day (or the night before) and do it!
- Dump the junk. When I receive junk mail in my mailbox or on my computer, I actually contact the offending companies, either by phone, email or by private message on Facebook, requesting they remove my name from their junk mail list. This takes time, persistence and patience, but if it gets me off the junk-mail-merry-go-round, it’s worth it.
- Get a routine and stick to it: I have a client who, without fail, goes to Costco every Sunday to do her weekly shopping. Once home, she kicks her husband and three kids out of the kitchen and prepares a week’s worth of meals – healthy boxed lunches and delicious, home-cooked dinners for five – while binge watching HGTV reruns. Hard work on Sunday pays off every other day of the week.
- Copy your credit cards: Copy the fronts and backs of every card in your wallet, as well as your drivers license and insurance cards. This way, if your wallet is lost or stolen, you have the card number on hand, plus the company’s emergency “lost/stolen card” number to call.
- Update your In Case of Emergency Card (see: Get Organized Dec. 18, 2015).
- Stack insurance renewals: Try to schedule all insurance policies (homeowners, hurricane/fire, flood, auto and umbrella, et cetera) for renewal on the same day. You’ll need to weigh the financial burden of being hit with multiple premiums all at once, versus the simplicity of having to deal with the paperwork only once, but in my book, if it saves time, it’s worth it.
- Review your bills & accounts once a year and budget accordingly! Short of conducting a forensic audit of all your standard expenditures, you should review all of your bills (Internet, cable, phone, insurance, water, electricity and gas, et cetera) at least once a year to see if there are any unusual charges, as well as to see if there’s a way to save a little money here and there.
- Auto-pay is the only way! In my world, anything that can be paid with a credit card (insurance, Internet, cable, mobile phone, et cetera) should be on auto-pay with one credit card company, which a.) Gives me peace of mind, b.) Saves time and c.) Helps me to earn points with my credit card. Anything that cannot be paid with a credit card is on automatic withdrawal from the bank. My monthly bill paying comes down to two things – writing one check to the credit card company and balancing my checkbook.
- Clean out your files! Sorting through last year’s papers and culling your files is the perfect way to start the New Year and get ready for April 15th as well. This goes for your computer files too. Clutter, no matter if it’s digital or physical, needs to be sorted through every 6 months.
Hint of the day: By law, you are allowed to run one free credit report with each of the three major credit-reporting firms, once a year (Experian, TransUnion & Equifax). My suggestion is not to run all three on the same day, but rather to run one with each of the companies, every four months (i.e.: three reports/year). www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Do not get fooled into paying for services you do not want. If a company asks for a credit card number to run a credit report, trust me, the service is not “free.”