Back to School – Back to Structure…

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Well, it’s that time of year again – Back to School! Yes, and Back to School means Back to Structure, at least in theory, right? I don’t know about you, I love the fun of summertime, but I like the stability and structure of the school year a little more. Below are my top three suggestions for maximizing your planning/to-do list/scheduling efficiency this school year…

  1. Determine Your Absolute Must-Haves – These would be items that, no matter what, you will get done in a given day. For me, this would include the following: A) Devotional Time With God – In a given day, I must have some personal time with God, hearing from Him through His Word and talking to Him through prayer. Sometimes these moments with God are long, and sometimes they are very quick, but I must have some time with God. B) Quality Time With Heather – A couple of years ago, I asked Heather how much time she wanted from me in a given day. She responded with, “perhaps 2 – 3 hours…” So, I make it a priority to spend a good hour with her in the morning, sipping on some coffee; and a good two hours in the evening just chatting, playing a game, or watching something on TV. C) Working Out With Beachbody – Health and fitness is a priority in my life. Thus, I designate Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays to working out. I will either lift weights or go on a run, and I usually work out with Heather. We use Beachbody programs and have found them to be really effective in our health and fitness journey. Bottom line: These three items (i.e. time with God, time with Heather, and working out) are my absolute must-haves in a given day/week. I structure my time to allow these items to take place. Something pretty awful or out of the ordinary needs to take place for me not do these three things. What are your absolute must-haves? Have you structured your time to accommodate for these things?
  2. Manage Your To-Do List – Most people I meet do not have a problem creating a to-do list, but they do have a problem managing their to-do list. Here are two fatal errors to avoid as you execute your to-do list: A) Generating Multiple To-Do Lists – This happens when you don’t have a central to-do list planner/system. For instance, you get an idea in your head about some things that need to happen and so you immediately scratch out a to-do list on a piece of paper. A few hours later, another thought hits you and so you write out a to-do list on your phone. Then a few hours later, you create another list on your computer. Catch my drift? With multiple to-do lists floating around, you create competition between to-do lists, and the chances of you forgetting a particular to-do list goes up significantly when you don’t have a central planner/system in place, and B) Doing More Than You Planned – Sometimes people map out what they want to-do in a given day and then they get it done in quick order. Great job! However, when this happens, many people are tempted to dip into the next day’s to-do list and get more done. Yes, this is hugely tempting and seems like the productive thing to do, but doing this on a habitual basis will tend to wear you out and create an unhealthy rhythm in your life. Bottom line: I highly recommend that you have one (and only one) central planning system in your life and that you stick to your list without doing more than is on your list.
  3. Respond to Legitimate Crises/Emergencies – As you all know, there will be legitimate crises/emergencies that come up in your life. When this happens, your to-do list and schedule will be suspended for a time. Indeed, it should be suspended for a time as you respond to the legitimate emergency in front of you. However, the key word here is LEGITIMATE. The following are not legitimate emergencies: tiredness, boredom, sadness, or the “I just don’t feel like it” attitude. To be human is to feel all of these things, but to be a productive human, you must overcome these things with good old fashioned discipline and determination. If you have planned to get something done, get it done…no excuses.

So, as you get back into the swing of things this school year, keep these three things in mind. Indeed, what are some strategies that you’ve employed that seem to work for you in getting things done in an efficient manner? Comment below. I would love to hear from you.

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