5 Rules for Organizing Your Time


One of my favorite quotes is by celebrity chef Alton Brown, "Organization will set you free." I know he’s referring to being organized in the kitchen, but I think it also applies to our personal and professional lives. And I’m reminded of it every January because I’m starting a new year with my calendar/planner.

I will admit that I’m a ridiculously organized person. Every year, I can’t wait for new calendars to come out so I can start filling them in. So it’s no surprise that Alton Brown’s quote about organization is one of my faves. But organization isn’t confined to calendars and cooking. It’s not solely about the pieces of paper on your desk. Organization can – and should - also refer to your time.

In the busy, crazy, technology dominated world, finding a way to effectively organize our time is equally important. Managing our time well can help us be more productive and engaged with our work. It can possibly keep us from feeling overwhelmed, stressed or burned out. So when we’re thinking about managing our time, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Decide those days and times that are off limits (whether it's family time, exercise time, or just me time). At my house, Saturday night is date night. We’re on a quest to learn how to make good pizza at home from scratch. (Side note: if you have recipes, please share!) The point is…Saturday night is off limits.
  2. Put important tasks on a schedule. I’m often asked about how I find time to write for HR Bartender. My answer? It’s on my calendar. If I want something done, I put it on my calendar. It doesn’t have to be completed right away. But when it’s on my calendar, it gets done.
  3. Build in time to fall behind. There are days I have to respond to a last minute client request. Or a project that I thought would take one hour ends up taking two. It happens. Don’t fill your day so full that blowing your schedule creates a panic.
  4. If you can't meet the deadline, don't say “yes” to the task. Before saying “yes”, find out the deadline. If you can’t make the deadline, let the requestor know. Maybe they will change the deadline for you. Saying “yes” and not delivering is a poor reflection on you.
  5. If you say yes then fall behind, renegotiate the commitment. When a person commits to something, other people are relying on them. It’s okay to fall behind schedule. Even the best plans get off track. Instead of ignoring the obligation, try to renegotiate the commitment. Or find someone else who can help.

By building a few small boundaries, we can take control of the way we feel about our time commitments. We can carve out time for ourselves. We can make sure those nagging projects get accomplished. We can also say “no” every once in a while. Organizing our time is important to our well-being, which is a great way to start 2016 – focused on ourselves.

How do you organize your time? Leave your success tips in the comments.



The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: