A Message From The President

November 2013

Life is full and, like you, I wear multiple hats every day of the week. On a typical business day, I prepare wills and trusts, respond to emails, return phone calls and meet with grieving family members.  Then I rush home to eat dinner, check my third grader’s homework and begin the bedtime routine. I’m constantly striving to create balance in my life. One of the keys to professional success and personal happiness is managing time effectively.

Each of us faces a giant pile of things to do and decisions to make. We often start at the top of the pile and try to work our way through the various tasks. Frequently, it seems that the pile does not get much smaller. A better choice is to prioritize the tasks and focus on those that are both important and urgent.

Over the years, I’ve learned numerous organizational skills to manage time effectively.  Last summer when carpooling to the Athena retreat with Amanda Sansone, I learned some new tips. Amanda had planned to showcase her exceptional organizational skills at “Athena’s Got Talent,” but the event was cancelled when the Retreat Committee discovered that, with a few exceptions, Athena does not have talent. Instead, Amanda and I decided to combine our tips and publish them in the President’s Message.  Please email me and share your organizational tips. Perhaps we’ll schedule an Athena Bonus to share your tips!

1. Grocery list. Create an electronic grocery list that you print or use on a PDA when you are shopping. My list is organized by aisle at the Bayshore Publix. (I love this compact store!) Yes, it took time to create the list, but now it’s a big timesaver. When my family goes on vacation and stays in a condo, I print the grocery list and take it with me.

2. Closet. Every couple of years, on New Year’s Day, turn all of the coat hangers around in your closet so that the hook part is facing toward you instead of toward the back of the closet. After you wear an item, hang it on a coat hanger with the hook hanging in the correct direction. At the end of that year, you can quickly scan your closet to see what you have not worn in the past year by checking which hangers are still facing the wrong direction. This makes cleaning out your closet easier.

3. Holiday cards. Create an address book on Hallmark.com or a similar site. When I design a holiday card online, Hallmark addresses and mails the cards directly to the recipients. If I’m really organized and design the card early during the holiday season, Hallmark offers discounts and free postage.

4. Email In Box. When I’m working on a project and a new email arrives, I’m immediately distracted. My business emails are sorted by “Today, Yesterday, Last Week, and Older.” A simple click makes the emails under the heading “Today” disappear.By doing this, you will not see all the Today emails, especially the new ones arriving every minute. You will be more focused on the task you planned to complete rather than reading the newest email with a red exclamation mark.

5. Packing lists. Create packing lists for yourself and each of your children for vacations and a list for yourself for business trips. I created a personal packing list after arriving at a destination without my makeup. I also created an extensive packing list for my family’s annual Thanksgiving trip to Sanibel Island.

6. Gift ideas. Keep a list of birthday and holiday gift ideas in a calendar entry on those days. I add ideas throughout the year and it takes the guesswork out of gift-giving. The low tech version of this organizational tip is a paper folder with pages from catalogues and magazines.

7. Updating calendar. Have a standard time entry (like 9 p.m.) for adding items to your calendar that you need to do when you are home at night. As you think of things you need to do throughout the day, you can add them to that calendar entry to keep a nighttime “to do” list. Similarly, when you think of things at night that you need to do the next day at work, have a standard time entry (like 9 a.m.) to add those items to create a daytime “to do” list.