I’m sure you’ve heard people say all kinds of things about not having enough time.

You’ve probably heard, “I’m out of time,” or “I lost track of time,” and “I can’t find the time,” or even, “I never finish on time,” among other phrases.

These are all just excuses — you do have the time, it’s just about developing a different relationship with time that’s purposeful. You have to take control of your time instead of letting it control you.

There are many benefits to organizing time, including:

  • You’ll be more efficient
  • You’ll be less stressed
  • You’ll avoid an “always late” reputation
  • You’ll save money by paying bills on time and not having to pay for rush shipping
  • You’ll have time to do the things that matter to you

But there are also many challenges to organizing your time. Some common challenges include:

  • Clutter: you can’t find what you need
  • Interruptions: phone, email, family, friends, etc.
  • The ability to prioritize
  • Time awareness: knowing how long it will take to complete a task
  • Procrastination
  • Perfectionism
  • Lack of focus

Let’s take a look at how you can use the EMEND method to organize your time.

Explore: What’s working and what’s not?

What do you want to be able to be doing that you can’t do now? We all have 24 hours in a day and we have to be realistic about what needs to be done. You have to be intentional with your time instead of being the person that does everything.

Merge: Get everything that you need to do together

Plan ahead as to what you need to do with your time each day. Do a brain dump and make a list of everything you need to get done and then start prioritizing it. Holding it all in your head creates a lot of mental clutter, which often manifests itself into a disorganized space.

There is no right or wrong way to group your items together. You can group them by time: 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, etc. If you have an extra 5 minutes, you can tackle tasks on your 5-minute list. Keep these categories to tasks that will take less than one hour. It’s rare to come across a spare hour, plus longer tasks are usually made up of multiple (smaller) tasks.

You can also group them by day. For example, maybe Sunday is a planning day, Monday is for errands, Tuesday is for phone calls, etc. This way you get similar tasks done on the same day.

Edit: What are you going to keep, donate or discard?

Donating your time means you must limit your excess tasks. Ask yourself: Is this going to get me closer to achieving my goals? You can say no to something and not owe anyone an explanation.

You can also delegate an activity if there’s someone else that can get it done.

This is the step where you’ll need to recognize the things that steal time from you, such as email, social media, TV, etc. You have to resist the external pull that wants to keep you from getting things done.

Once you know what’s stealing your time, delete games or apps. You could also use the Forest app, which grows a tree the more you set your phone down (no, seriously). Or, you can set boundaries on your phone (usually in the settings) so it monitors how long you’re using the device.

It may sound silly, but setting limits on time thieves means you’ve got more time for your priorities.

Nest: Finding a permanent home for what you’re going to keep

Many people busy themselves with what’s most enjoyable for them instead of what needs to be done. Use a checklist, a calendar, post-its, or a to-do list app to manage the tasks you need to tackle.

Managing interruptions — whether that means putting limits on your phone — or, if you’re working from home, set up some signal where people know you’re focused and working right now. This could be a sign on your office door or a note on a whiteboard that you’re working until a certain time, and can then focus on other tasks.

Develop: Keep the system going

There are many ways you can encourage yourself to maintain this new relationship with time. Take a look at your physical space. Physical clutter is usually the result of mental clutter, which is often a series of undone tasks.

Make your environment as inviting as possible, so you can entice yourself to get things done.  This could be anything from having lots of natural lighting or pulling out your cute desk accessories.

You can also work on developing your time awareness skills by timing yourself doing tasks. The more you practice, the better you’ll be at estimating how long things take.

See additional time management techniques in our other blog post that focuses on working from home.

Procrastination is something else that tends to get in the way. If you want to learn more about overcoming procrastination, Alyssa will be speaking about it at the Main Library on Goodwood Sunday, Feb. 7.