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Vicki Norris
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Restoring Order:
Organizing Strategies to Reclaim Your Life

 

 
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Getting Organized

Reclaim Time for Your Priorities

Vicki Norris
Restoring Order

CBN.comThe Time Management Myth

I don’t know who coined the phrase, “time management.” There is really no way to manage time. We each get exactly 24 hours in a day, and time keeps marching on, no matter how we choose to spend it or what we accomplish with our allotted seven days each week.

But even though we can’t really manage time, we can manage ourselves, our environment, our responsibilities, our choices, and our opportunities. Time is simply the context in which we act. It is not something that we can stretch or compress or truly manage.

The Time Management Myth gained such popularity in business schools and beyond because it is built on universally admired virtues such as productivity and efficiency. Who, in his or her personal or business life, doesn’t want to be thought of as productive and efficient?

Certainly, productivity and efficiency have merit, and a multitude of approaches to achieving them have sold truckloads of business books. But when it comes down to making it through each day, productivity and efficiency don’t really count for much if you’re not living the life you really want.

I propose we stop talking about time management and start promoting self management. We enhance our satisfaction and enjoyment in life when we put first things first. We need to begin investing our time, energy, and resources in priorities…the things that really matter to us.

No Quick Fixes

How-to books abound, offering an easy path to getting organized in your life and business. Fortunes have been made peddling tips and tricks that promise to bring order to your environment. People are grasping for a sound byte or shortcut they believe will simplify their life in three easy steps. The unfortunate truth is that there is no simple solution or set of tips or one-size-fits-all plan that will solve all organizing issues for every individual.

As a professional organizer, I’ve had the opportunity to observe disorganized people from all walks of life, both in business and personal environments, and to examine their reasons for change. I’ve concluded that people change for two reasons: either they have reached a “point of pain” with their chronically chaotic lifestyle, or they are inspired by what would be possible in their lives if they were to become more organized.

Begin With Your Priorities

Some believe that time management is setting goals and agendas, breaking tasks into manageable parts, and keeping lots of lists. Organizing your day may indeed involve some or all of these strategies, but those who succeed in ordering their time in a meaningful way begin by making room for their priorities. Once they have identified the things that truly matter to them, they can begin to organize around those personal priorities.

You may have hoped buying another fancy calendar would solve your time management problem only to see important events continue to fall through the cracks. You may have a spouse nagging you to manage your time better and accomplish more. You may have a boss who is unhappy with your sagging productivity. All of these circumstances might be the “point of pain” that triggers you to change.

Pain certainly can be motivational, but I have found no more powerful and lasting motivator than identifying and embracing your own priorities.

The payoff to getting organized is more than you might think. Most people understand that organizing will help you maximize your time, which indeed it will. However, achieving a “maximized” calendar is not usually a compelling enough reason for most of us to keep plugging ahead on our projects. Organizing your time and environment will take energy and resources, so you need a reason to justify the ongoing effort organizing requires. We all need to keep in sight why we are creating and maintaining order. Organizing doesn’t just clear your space and optimize your time; it helps you make room in your life for the things that truly matter. The bottom line is this: ordering your space and time will give you the ability to achieve your personal priorities.


Discovering Your Priorities

Once you know your priorities; they can become a powerful catalyst for change.

Discovering our priorities requires introspection. Begin to discover your own priorities by asking yourself; “What do I want my life to look like? How do I want to spend my time?” Some of us have set goals for the week or year but have never reflected on our personal and professional priorities. Even if we achieve our goals, we still may feel empty if we haven’t been living out the things that are important to us. That’s we confuse goals and priorities. Goals are finite and measurable and may be checked off a list. Priorities, on the other hand, are our guiding life values and they are something we continually strive for; they can’t be checked off a list.Here are some questions I recommend my clients ask themselves to determine their own priorities:

  • What are my values?
  • What are my responsibilities?
  • What is worth investing my time into?
  • What are my gifts?
  • How do I want to be remembered?

If we want to manage ourselves to our full potential, we must have priorities that precede and pre-qualify our goals. A set of priorities is a necessary measure by which our goals may be chosen and our opportunities evaluated. If, for example, your priorities include a fulfilling spiritual life, an intimate marriage, and deep personal relationships, then you can manage your self by means choosing the activities that support those priorities. If you never set your priorities in clear terms, then you will have no point of reference for selecting the commitments and opportunities that present themselves in abundance. Without priorities to guide your decisions, your calendar will be overrun with obligations that don’t fulfill your life.

Once you know your priorities, you can schedule the activities that support them on your calendar. For example, if being an engaged, consistent parent is a priority for you, then your calendar needs to show time set aside for each of your children. That may sound simple, but your own experience probably tells you that quality parenting is not something you just “fit in” to your schedule when time allows; you must schedule that priority. If you are not dedicating any time or energy to one of your spoken priorities, then you have to question whether it is really that important to you.

The real payoff to being organized is freedom – the freedom to invest in your priorities. Organizing your time is about making room in your personal and professional life for what is important to you. When you live your life in a state of order, you can live on purpose, and honor your priorities.

Is it time for you to get inspired by what’s possible in your life? I invite you to begin discovering, scheduling, and honoring your priorities. You can live the life you want, starting now!

Adapted from: Restoring Order™ copyright © 2006 by Vicki Norris (available now at www.RestoringOrder.com and in July 2007as Reclaim Your Life™. Copyright © 2007). Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.

About the Author: Vicki Norris is an expert organizer, business owner, speaker, television personality, and author who inspires people to live out their priorities. Norris is a regular on HGTV’s nationally syndicated Mission: Organization, and is a recurrent source and contributor to national lifestyle publications including Quick & Simple magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, and Real Simple magazine. Norris is also author of Restoring Order™ to Your Home, a room-by-room household organizing guide.



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