March Madness: Getting Back On Track with Organization and Work / Life Balance

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We’ve all done it… made New Year’s resolutions to do things like get more organized, go to the gym every night, or lose weight.  All those major life changing things we want to do, but then discover throughout January that we just can’t manage to make time for accomplishing these goals.

Life-changing and wellness doesn’t happen overnight.  Now that March is here, let’s resolve to just make ourselves better a little bit at a time. Here are a couple things that can put you back on track.

Aim For Work/Life Balance
All too often I find myself with my smartphone (Ok, smarter than me phone…).  In most cases, that email I find myself answering at 10 pm at night could just as easily have waited until morning for a response.  Try going email-free on your smartphone one evening a week for a month. Then next month, try two evenings.  You may not make it to a full five evenings a week, but your family will appreciate having their own time with you.  Also try to set aside a specific time on the weekends that doesn’t interfere with home/family life if you need to check your email.  Soon you’ll find that you can concentrate on your family/hobby time, and separate that from work time; you’ll also have the satisfaction of being smarter than your phone, because it won’t dictate your “needs”. Your family deserves your undivided attention, probably slightly more so than your work does. After all, we work to support our families; if our families get their share of attention, they’ll be more likely to support our work.

One of the best tricks I’ve found to help me be more organized at work is to turn off the “Desktop Alert” in Microsoft Outlook.  I have often been in the middle of something, only to have the preview of an arriving email pop up to distract me.  I notice the email and think “Oh, I can answer that easily and quickly – let me go do that.”  This leads immediately to two problems:   1.) I’ve now completely lost the train of thought I had with the original task I had been doing, and that original task isn’t complete.   2.) If I get a response crafted and sent before another email arrives, the person knows I am sitting in front of my email, and often it leads to a chain of emails.

Home organization is much harder to accomplish.  It’s surprising the number of distractions there are… cat bowls to fill, dishes to wash, counters to clean up, refrigerator to clean out, and I haven’t gotten out of the kitchen yet.  It takes even more concentration and focus to complete a task without getting distracted by other “quick” things to be done.  So I try to pick a small area and clean that one.  If I have things to be taken upstairs, I set them by the stairs (going upstairs leads me to more vacuuming and laundry distractions) and continue with my area.  Sometimes I narrow my focus to “cleaning this counter off”, and sometimes I widen my focus to an entire room.  Set a small goal and work your way to the larger things.  If you start with cleaning the counters, then vacuuming, eventually “clean the house” is off your list.  And you’ve accomplished many smaller goals along the way – what a feeling of accomplishment.

With these tricks for organization and balance, maybe you’ll have time to fill out your basketball brackets!