Wondering Where to Start? Or When to Recommit?

Jun 30, 2014

It’s a new year — 2014 — and maybe you’ve made some resolutions for Togetherness you’re working hard to stick to as January unfolds into February. We’re here to help.

I particularly loved TBD Teacher’s blog post on her resolutions here. We love her love of Evernote, commitment to Google Calendar and my favorite—her willingness to examine her own habits, what works and doesn’t work for herself and for her students. And you read about my own resolution (recommitment to good email checking habits) here.

But now, let’s talk about you.

Are you starting a new habit? Recommitting to a previously purchased planner? Having an amicable break-up with Post-its? Experimenting with a shift to digital?

Since we are still in January, let’s start at the beginning.

Where to start? I usually recommend three starting points for any new Together habit.

1. Start each week with a plan for your “flexible time”. Spend 30-60 minutes figuring out what your next week looks like. What I mean by “flexible time” is time when you truly have choice…or at least the illusion of choice. If you are a teacher, this may (or may not!) be your preparation period. If you work in a school district office, this may be the time you are not in meetings. This can split in two ways . . . First, figure out if you are time-driven or task-driven. Depending on where you fall, you may want a pool of tasks to draw from or you may actually want to plan to-do’s into actual time slots. The choice is yours.

2. Pick a tool and stick to it—for at least a month. The issue is not that people don’t have systems; rather, they have too MANY systems. Pick a tool, the most simple as possible, and force yourself to stick to it. It could just be an index card or an app you have synchronized across your many devices. Or anything in between. And just because you see a colleague with a fancy new app, do not always follow the shiny penny. Know thyself, and beware of Promiscuous Organizing!

3. Keep track of when you fly and when you flop. Watch yourself closely during the week. Do you chase shiny objects? Say yes to everything that comes your way? Check your email constantly? Get things done faster in the morning? Consider decisions more thoughtfully in the afternoon? Race around with nothing to eat? Mind your energy levels, be mindful of when you go off your plan (see Bullet #1,) and see if you can use this awareness to get yourself some time back in the following week. For example, I can only write for long periods when I’m disconnected from the Internet. Therefore, I never plan to write at 4 PM in my office. It.Just.Won’t.Happen.

So, if you feel stuck getting started, follow the three tips above to kick things off and move forward. Tackle everything else later!