Military Families experience many sources of stress these days. Deployments are frequent and long. Some juggle stressful jobs with managing homes. Others face geographic separation from Family and friends.
Most experts agree that taking a few fairly simple steps to organize time and space can free up time and energy for dealing with everything else.
Four common themes from experts in time and life management are these:
• Prioritize. Organizing activities and projects into short- and long- term to-do lists is one way to make sure goals are met.
Most experts recommend reviewing short-term lists at the beginning of each week, and updating them daily as tasks are completed and new ones are added. Keep long-term lists of priorities and goals (for the next one, five and 10 years) and review them periodically as a reminder of overall values and dreams.
• Get organized. The “touch it once” technique is an effective method for managing the constant flow of mail, newspapers, magazines and school work.
Decide where each type of paper belongs (a newspaper or magazine basket, “mail slots” for individual family members, storage bins for children’s artwork, etc.) and put things away right away.
Giving a “home” to everything will help minimize clutter and the stress it creates. Another technique is to spend 10 minutes at the end of each day de-cluttering by putting away everything that’s out of place.
Don’t turn a simple chore into a large task by waiting for things to accumulate.
• Manage information overload. Carve out time to concentrate at work by setting voicemail or e-mail automatic reply. Spend undistracted time with Family by turning off the computer, cell phone and television.
• Make time for oneself. One way to carve out a bit more time is to take advantage of the down time spent while commuting, waiting to pick up the kids or otherwise waiting for the next activity to start. As little as 15 minutes at a time scattered throughout the week can be enough.
Making small changes along the way can have a large impact and is less overwhelming than trying to reorganize all at once.
Pick an area that’s causing the most stress and make one or two small changes over the next week. See how it feels and adjust accordingly. When prioritizing time, organizing space, managing information overload and taking care of oneself, one is impacting areas within one’s control and saving two precious resources: time and energy.