50 Ways to Organize Your Life After 50: Part 3

North Atlantic Treaty Organization flag, white compass rose emblem in blue background
North Atlantic Treaty Organization flag, white compass rose emblem in blue background

Baby Boomers,

Today, is the third part in my series of helping you organize your life, especially your priority projects. We will carry on with my research collection of 50 tips, hints, tricks, encouragement, advice and mnemonic lessons about planning your time and personal life schedules.

If you are scratching your head and asking yourself why I am talking about "Day 3" then you must have missed the first two days of this series. I highly recommend you catch up first by reading Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

If you are ready to move on then here's another 10 tips to get you going and I'm going to start with a big one.


1. Do It Now

Fight procrastination by adopting a strong "do it now" attitude. Limit yourself to two to three minutes when making a small decision. Decide what you're going to do with every intrusion in your life as soon as you encounter it. Teach yourself to make quick and bold decisions even when you're not really sure.

Keep moving forward.

2. Time Log

Lawyers are the best example of people that have to track everything they do in the day and how long it takes to do it. This way they can bill their clients and remain accountable for their work.

You need to be accountable to yourself. Your time is the most valuable commodity that you can control.

Keep track of how much time you really spend on the things that you do and analyze your log. You will find some real time wasters (Facebook, email, snacking, phone calls, etc.) that you can remove or reduce. You will also pinpoint the most important tasks in your day so you have a grasp on how much time is needed to be scheduled in the future to complete them.

Carpe Diem... Seize the day minute by minute.

3. Structured Procrastination

This is a strategy of recognizing and using one's procrastinating tendencies to get stuff done.

Did I just say that we procrastinate?

Show me someone that hasn't and I'll show you the ruler of the universe. Research shows that with most people Items at the top of top of the list are avoided by doing seemingly less difficult and less important tasks further down the list. In a sense, this makes the procrastinator highly productive.

The trick is to make sure the items at the top are seen as apparently urgent -- with pressing deadlines and apparently large consequences. But, of course, they aren't really all that urgent.

Structured procrastination requires a masterful skill at self-deception, which fortunately big-time procrastinators excel at.

4. Personal Mission Statement

Write a personal mission statement, and use it as a guide to set goals.

Ask if each goal or activity moves you closer to achieving your mission.

If it doesn't, eliminate it.

Periodically review and revise your mission statement.

5. Backwards Planning

A planning strategy that works from the goal back to your next action.

Start with the end goal in mind. What do you have to have in place to accomplish it?

OK, now what do you have to have in place to accomplish what you have to have in place to accomplish your end goal?

Did that make sense?

And what do you have to have in place to accomplish that? And so on, back to something you already have in place and/or can put in place immediately. That's your next action.

Read this tip from the end backwards if it doesn't make sense.

6. Tune Everything Out

Create a personal privacy zone by wearing headphones, closing your office door or finding an unapproachable area to work in. People are much more hesitant to interrupt someone wearing headphones or has the door closed.

Note: actually listening to music through your headphones is optional -- nobody knows but you. I recommend some Pink Floyd, Yes or Passport to keep you focused but loose.

7. Write It Down

We touched on this skill back in Part 1. Don't rely on your memory as your recall system. If you are anything like me and you have a chronic case of "squirrel syndrome" then writing things down is a way of life.

  • Write down the things you need to do.
  • Write passing thoughts down as they come into your mind.
  • Write down dates in your schedule.
  • Write down anything you might need to refer to later on.
  • Write down where you put the things you just wrote down (just kidding).

Now you can relax knowing that you can't forget what you wrote down. Use your brain for thinking, planning and organizing. Use paper or your computer for keeping track of stuff.

8. Mono-tasking

We like to think of ourselves as great multi-taskers, but we aren't. Our jobs, corporate culture and what we see on TV has led us to believe that we can juggle several tasks at once. What we do when we multitask is devote tiny slices of time to several tasks in rapid succession. Since it takes more than a few minutes (research suggests as long as 20) to really get into a task, we end up working even more slowly than if we devoted longer blocks of time to each task, worked until it was done, and moved on to the next one.

Remember how many times you told your children when they were younger: "One thing at a time."

Follow your own advice.

9. Triggers

Place meaningful reminders around you to help you remember, as well as to help create better habits.

For example, put the books you need to take back to the library in front of the door, so you can't leave the house without seeing them and remembering they need to go back.

10. Unclutter

Clutter is anything that's out of place and in the way. It's not necessarily neatness -- someone can have a rigorously neat work-space and not be able to get anything done. It's being able to access what you need, when you need it, without breaking the flow of your work to find it.

Figure out what is "clutter" in your working and living spaces, and fix that.

Alright, do you think we may be on to something with this planning/ prioritizing/organizing thing.

Tomorrow I will have at least 10 more tips for you.

We don't have to be "Einstein's" to lead a happy, productive and fulfilling lives but maybe if we follow a little bit of his advice we can discover more opportunities to make us great.

I will end today's blog with an old Finnish proverb.

"Happiness is a place between too little and too much."

Thanks for joining me.