A recent article in Real Simple Magazine about the toll that impatience can take on our enjoyment of life got me thinking about my own hurriedness. It’s a rare day that I’m not bouncing from one thing to another without taking a break. Most of my time (probably 90% of my waking hours) is spent working: client appointments, making and returning phone calls, networking, developing the content for presentations, writing my blog or newsletter, processing email, etc. Even though I have an administrative assistant to whom I’ve delegated as much as I can, there’s still plenty to do in the life of an entrepreneur. And although I’ve learned to be more patient over the years, I sometimes feel the anxious wave of overwhelm that accompanies a to-do list that’s a mile long and a day that is way too short. Properly attending to my to-do list and calendar certainly help me get things done when they need to be done, but the thrill of victory I feel when I cross something off my list is short-lived; there’s always another thing waiting (more patiently than I would) for attention.

Feeling a bit like the shoemaker whose own kids have no shoes, I turned to some of my colleagues who recently completed a coaching class with me to help me develop a strategy to better manage my time. I hope you’ll find some solutions to your own hurriedness and overwhelm by reading the tactics my colleagues and I developed:

•Ruthlessly diminish the amount of information I respond to, and how much time I spend processing what I can’t eliminate. I get about 50 emails a day, some of which need a response, and some of which simply need to be read for the information they contain (e.g., the informational chat from the National Association of Professional Organizers). I also get several RSS feeds – Linkedin updates, several professional blogs, etc. My new approach is to read the RSS feeds, organizer chat, Linkedin updates and other non-urgent information once a week rather than daily. Plowing through similar information in one fell swoop will be more efficient and less disruptive than doing it every day.

•Set office hours, and honor them. Ah, it’s that “honor them” that always my downfall. I’ve told myself for years that I’m going to end my workday at 7 p.m., but that never seems to materialize. Since habit change is hard and takes time to develop, I’m going to take it slowly. I’ve marked my calendar to end my workday on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. and do something for me. Photo album, here I come!

•Be more discerning about the commitments I make. As much as I love the education offered by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization, do I have to take every teleclass they offer? I’m going to review the handout for each class ahead of time, and if the information will directly impact my work with clients, I’ll participate in the class. Do I have to say yes to every volunteer opportunity that comes my way? Even though they may meet only once a month, pretty soon my jam-packed month is even more loaded with meetings, phone calls, and activities. As much as I enjoy helping people, I’m going to re-evaluate my volunteer commitments.

Whew, I feel better already! It’s amazing how helpful it is to work with others to solve a problem, even when you think you’ve explored every possibility. So what are you committed to doing to slow down and enjoy life? If you can’t develop a solution on your own, to whom will you reach out to for help?

Wishing you freedom, simplicity and harmony.

Author's Bio: 

Internationally known professional organizer, author, and speaker Sue Becker is the founder and owner of From Piles to Smiles®. She enjoys helping people from around the world live better lives by creating customized systems to overcome their overwhelming paperwork, clutter, and schedules. She specializes in helping people who are chronically disorganized - those for whom disorganization has been a lifelong struggle that negatively impacts every aspect of their life, especially people with AD/HD. Her hands-on help, as well as her presentations, have helped thousands of individuals create substantial change in their lives.

Sue is Illinois’ first Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization. She co-authored the book Conversations on Success, and has appeared as an organizational expert on NBC News and the national TV show, Starting Over. A CPA, Sue has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.