One of the most valuable lessons I have learned through working with a professional organizer is the action step of planning. In the past, I often relegated planning to another item on my to do list. I was not aware of the extra-ordinary advantages that come from planning one's schedule, whether related to work, family, or social life.
So, what are some of these benefits you're wondering. First, it optimizes your use of your time. You focus on your priorities, because you have already reviewed them for the week or month ahead and have scheduled them in. Second, you feel more in control of your schedule, and less commonly, that your schedule is controlling you. According to research in the field of occupational health, the more control that you perceive you have in your work, the more job satisfaction and less stress you are likely to experience. Third, you also have more mental energy because there is less worrying that you might forget something, or procrastinating on an important project or task. You can rest assured, knowing that the important task has already been prioritized. You also know what day and time you will be addressing it. No longer are there the nagging thoughts, in the recesses of your mind, reminding you of what you need to do, or to not forget something. This often drains our mental energy and contributes to increased stress. Fourth, you become increasingly aware of how balanced or out-of-balance your day/week is, and, on a more macro level, how your work/life balance is also.
For example, after reviewing my schedule to begin planning, I discovered how much driving I do in some weeks. I realized this often led to it being a more draining and hectic week. I now consider the amount of driving I might need to do in one day or week, and plan so it is more thoughtfully distributed throughout the week or month, if possible. Another helpful strategy, which can be applied at the office or home, is to plan regular work responsibilities (e.g. make business calls; review revenue figures; check emails) and errands (e.g. drop off drycleaning; make bank deposit) on a specific day (e.g. every Tuesday) or time during the week (a.m.; lunchtime). I have found this strategy to be especially helpful in developing a more organized, consistent schedule, and in making me more effective. In the end, it's about freeing up time, and conserving your mental and physical energy, to experience the other wonders of your life that give it meaning and joy.
If you would like more information about hiring a professional or personal organizer, please visit the National Association of Professional Organizers at www.napo.net. If you live in CT, I highly recommend my professional organizer, Eva Counter. She has a tremendous talent and enthusiasm for what she does, and is also quite fun to work with! You may contact her at www.organizing4life.com.