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Monday, February 28, 2005

Emergency Kit for the Over Committed

There's a lot of great time management, personal effectiveness, and personal organization material out there from books to gear. If you have that, and use it well, you don't need to read this post. This is an emergency kit for when it's all gone south and you have looming deadlines and impending doom on the near horizon. If you've gotten to that point, this is an emergency kit for the overcommitted staffer or student.

You can get back on top of any situation in four easy steps: 1. Clean up around you, 2. List everything, 3. Categorize everything as critical, social, or other, and 4. Get rid of everything that's not critical. I know it sounds simple and too good to be true, but it's so simple that many don't do it and so effective that everyone should. Read on, as salvation lies within:

1. Clean up Around You - You need cognitive peace and quiet, and you can't get it with stuff staring at you and yelling, "Put me away, clean me up, organize me!" You don't have time to do a major episode of "Clean Sweep" (I love that show), but you can simple put everything in it's place, and put everything without a place into one stack or preferably a box so you can't see it. Having all the unresolved stuff in one place, cued up to sort later, will give you clarity of thought for the organizing ahead. If you take more than 30 minutes to do this, you've done too much. We're talking desk or office or dorm room, not garage.

2. Make a Physical List - List all the stuff that's bugging you and anything else you can think of. Get it all out on a sheet of paper or a spreadsheet if that makes you think clearer.

3. Categorize what's Bugging You - Out to the side of each item on your list, write if it's critical (necessary to make a living, make a grade, etc...), social (you don't have time to meet so-and-so, but you promised...) and a catch-all category of "other".

4. Make it Go Away - Now, take every item that's not critical and make it go away. Reschedule everything so you don't feel so neglected and put upon (I'm not have any fun!), and call anyone who'll be disappointed by your absence and just beg off because work or school got in the way. Really, they'll understand or you don't want to know them anyway. Offer to reschedule, apologize, but then stick to your "no".

Now look at what's left. It's a manageable list of truly important tasks that can be ordered by deadline and attacked one thing at a time. You can sleep well and think clearly and work your way out of dread and doom. Oh, and after the deadlines have passed go get yourself a good organizational method and a church. Keeping organized and keeping your life and what's important in perspective is the best immunization against another outbreak of freakout.


Brenda Noel said...

What a great blog! You are quite a writer, Jim. I enjoyed the blogs and learned a lot from them. Thanks!

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