Let’s face it, looking for a job can really be a full-time job itself. I remember years ago when I was applying for jobs online. I didn’t have a home computer and I had to spend hours in the local library. I remember making nearly 100 (yes, I’m serious) submissions to the same organization.
At some point I did get a call from HR to participate in a few phone screenings and follow up in person sessions. I remember one interview in particular. Right before wrapping up, the interviewer asked me if I had any final questions. I had one…” I’m sorry, can you tell me what this role is again?”
As irresponsible as this seems, the truth is I was grossly unprepared and disorganized. Like I said before, I’d submitted nearly 100 applications. They were all administrative assistant roles. I did a search and just applied to as many as I could before my husband would pick me up from the library. The problem with that mass application process was that I didn’t have a plan to manage call backs and requests for interviews. The other unfortunate is that I relied on HR to provide me with the full break down. What happened instead was I got a phone call for a phone screening for the role of an administrative assistant for Company X. The role description would all be the same generic description online. When I applied, the unique identifier would be the job req#. Unfortunately the HR lady would never repeat that. And because I wasn’t organized, I never asked for it. Needless to say, I didn’t get that job. Probably because I wasn't prepared and sounded like a moron. What I learned from this situation, was I needed a better way to manage how I applied for a job. Not only that, I needed to organize the jobs I applied for; so the next time I interviewed I knew where I was going and who I was talking to.
The truth is, most of us are not organized and the lot of us fail to manage our time effectively. If you read any of my previous posts, I mention the thought that only 8% of everyone who makes a New Year Resolution, actually achieves the goal and maintains the commitment. So, what should become of the rest of us? Do we all just wither away and succumb to the madness of disorganization? Should we leave our children stranded in after-school because we can’t seem to manage our day after we drop them off at school in the morning? No, of course not. While I know time management is not a skill you are born with, I also know organization is not an elite lifestyle only attainable by the privileged 8%. There are a few simple habits I’ve adopted over the years that help keep me in-line. I promise…you won’t need a therapist after this.
1. Write it down (Get it out of your head!) – I don’t think people are afraid to be organized. They are afraid of the unknown. They don't know what or how big the effort will be. They don't know if they will fail or create more of a mess than they started with. Fear leads to anxiety and that is overwhelming. This is all before they ever start doing ANYTHING. The first thing I suggest anyone does, whether you are organizing a pantry, your luggage or a project, is simply write it down. I mean, write every possible thing you can think of related to the task. All of it, no matter how small. Just write it down. Don’t worry about the order. You just need to get it out of your head and on paper. This does 2 things:
1.Removes that energy from your mind and body and places it somewhere you can process and manage it.
2. Allows you to see, visually, the task ahead and plan your execution.
2. Prioritize it (small bite sized chunks) – There is a saying: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It implies that consumption is better and easier when it’s small manageable pieces. I recommend that if you are new to organizing, don’t try to eat the elephant. In other words, don’t try to plan the month. Focus on just a day or no more than a week. What works for me is working in groups of 5 or 7...for me that equates to Sunday to Saturday (7) or Monday to Friday (5). Once you get all your items written down, ask yourself:
a. Does this need to be today, this week or this month
b. What is most urgent? (hint, everything is not URGENT).
c. Does this need to be done before something else?
d. Can this be resolved later/last?
i. Use a system to catalog your items like H/M/L (high/medium/low) or D/W/M (day/week/month)
Remember, you can only focus on small bites. Are you planning for today, or for the week? If you determine something can be done “sometime this month” that’s low priority. I move all low priority items to a separate list, or I highlight in a different color. This way I don’t spend energy trying to resolve them. The goal is to prioritize into manageable buckets that you can handle. If it becomes too much, commit to walking away and picking this activity up again in a few hours.
3. Time Box it (put a time limit on it so you create some boundaries) - The last thing I do is PLAN how I will spend my time on this task. After you’ve figured out what you are going to work on, and when you’ll work on it, let’s think about how long it will take. There is no magic number to any of these and it’s all about what you think you can do successfully. For example, you have 3 interviews this week. Let’s assume each will take 2hrs max. This includes travel and the actual interview. It’s simple math.. 2x3=6. You’ve planned 6hrs for interviews. Then let’s plan an hour for follow up. That means talking to HR post the interview and sitting down to write thank you emails to the interviewers. So now we’re at 7hrs for interview and follow up. Get the idea? It’s possible you’ll get that time back if one ends early, travel was quick etc. All of that is fine, but you are just building a schedule to help you manage the rest of the day or week.
4. BREATHE – pace yourself. If you are new to getting organized and managing your time, the first pass will feel like a lot. I promise it will get easier. Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it certainly makes you better.
It takes time to learn how to manage your time… so cut yourself some slack and take your time. I’m trying to say without sounding corny, learn to spend (TIME) up front, doing the hard work, so everything else can run seamlessly. The initial exercise will feel challenging but the more you do it, the more you realize that you can master the time you have, spend more time living and less time, wasting time.
~these are my thoughts..rated pg