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Organize Day Efficiently

Take an old mayonnaise jar and fill it to the brim with whole walnuts. Now pour in uncooked rice, and observe the rice filling the jar by filtering through the spaces between the walnuts.

* What does this mean? *

The walnuts stand for the important things in life – spouse, children, marriage, health, paying the mortgage, etc. The rice represents everything else – having organized closets, vacuuming the living room rug, waxing the car, painting the kitchen, buying a new dress to wear at your niece’s wedding.

The moral of the story is that if you take care of the important things first, then everything else will fall into place.

If you’re skeptical, try putting the rice into the jar first and then adding the walnuts. It cannot be done.

* Life at a Frenzied Pace *

We are so busy these days that sometimes we feel like we meet ourselves coming and going. There are kids and job, keeping our marriage fresh and exciting. Add in the upkeep of the house and cars, laundry, mowing the lawn, attending church, family time, date night, PTA, attending night school to upgrade our job skills. There’s walking the dog, hosing down the patio, watering the plants, cooking and eating and cleaning up and making lunches for the next day. What about overtime, exercising at the gym, nail and hair appointments, supervising the kids’ homework and chores? Add to this mix, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, your children’s sporting events, hosting a women’s group at your house once a week. Everyone wants a slice of your time. There’s barely enough time for six hours of sleep!

* Are Priorities Possible? *

Yes. Priorities are possible. Going back to the little walnut and rice scenario, always start with the important things first. Don’t let time tick away before you get to what absolutely must get done.

* One System for Organizing Your Day *

Buy yourself a little spiral notebook – one small enough to easily fit in your purse. Open it so that there are two pages facing each other. On the left page, write down the things that you must do, i.e., fix breakfast, pack lunches, iron dress for work, dress the children, clean up from breakfast, get ready for work, plug in the crock pot, everyone in the car, daycare, work, pick up kids at daycare, home, dinner, cleanup, kids’ homework and baths, sleep.

On the right page, write the not-as-important things you need to do, i.e., make nail appointment for the week-end, pick up dry cleaning after work, hem green dress to wear on St. Patrick’s Day, spot clean the rug, clean the bathrooms, iron husband’s shirts, do a couple loads of laundry, etc.

Some things left undone have huge, lasting consequences, like the things on the first list in the notebook. Other things, though, will not shut down the system if left undone for a few days. This is how to approach all tasks throughout your day. No one will die if hubby has to iron his own shirt or if you don’t get your nails done for another week. Though you may not be happy about leaving some of the less important things undone, you will hang on to your sanity! Carry over to the next day any nonessential tasks that you were unable to get done today.

My little notebook technique was how I organized my time as a busy working mother in the pre-computer days. Now you can do the same thing on your laptop or Blackberry. But, if all else fails, paper and pen will always work.

Remember to put people before things and walnuts before rice. That’s all the efficiency you need to know.

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