On the path to making my dreams a reality, I’ve come to realize that in order for me to fully enjoy the life that I build for my future, I must act faster and smarter. When most of your energy is put into the hard work needed to deliver high-quality results, there is no room for mistakes. Your approach to success must have direction, organization, and structure, or you’ll be backtracking the hours that you’ve spent making poor decisions.

The Power of Efficiency

The significance of good organization skills cannot be emphasized enough. This allows you to put a solid structure behind all of the tasks that are to be tackled. Having some kind of structure and outline is a key element in producing high quality work. Even on a larger scale, some of the biggest organizations and companies throughout the world have experienced huge success under the leadership of knowledgeable CEOs who had a solid understanding of a systematic formula in which they ran their businesses. Although some people are blessed with naturally impeccable organization skills, others have a hard time dealing with clutter, as they view the whole organization process as merely a chore or cleaning. Either way, planning your work in any kind of systematic order must be tackled carefully. You do not want to make the mistake of going overboard and, in the end, wasting more time.

Take Out Those Pens and Pencils

One way to structure both your plans and workspace is by labeling. It’s a method that’s almost fool-proof, requiring minimal effort while offering a wide range of products for you to utilize as tools. Any kind of paper with adhesive will do, but in the case that you don’t have any sticky labels, cut a piece of paper into squares of a desired size and use tape, glue, or staples to secure it to a surface. It may also be helpful to use colored labels, especially if you are dealing with a high volume of materials, to speed up the process of finding what you need when you need it.

On the matter of labels and jotting things down, memo-pads are also great little conveniences to have around the house. They’re great for notes, reminders, TO-DO lists, grocery/shopping list, etc.; plus, they come in various sizes and colors.

If you’re tackling a bigger project or task and need a larger planning space, mini chalk boards and dry-erase boards can either be made at home, purchased online or at an office supply store. These are particularly good for reusing because they require little to no maintenance or waste. You may also want to consider looking for one that’s magnetic - for multi-purpose organization solutions! Take all those paper notes and use a magnet to hold them up instead of leaving them scattered across your desk. These boards are perfect space-savers that can easily be mounted to a wall, taking up no extra room at all.

YouTube is filled with How-To and DIY videos that are fun and easy to follow. Here's a quick 4 minute video on how to make your own chalkboard at home with a mirror.

Set Up A Game Plan

As your workspace starts to give a more welcoming feeling, it’s important to get into the habit of organizing our thoughts as well. Having a precise game plan is vital for achieving the maximum potential for time management. The plan should be outlined or listed in clear, direct statements so it’s easy to understand. Try to avoid cluttering your mind with too many goals. This will only be overwhelming down the line when you go to start your work and there are too many tasks; you won’t know where to start! Each goal should be valuable and hold significance towards the final product.

Watch the Clock

With each step of your plan, give yourself a specific allotted time to finish it. Determine generally how long it should take to complete each step of your task list in order to help set a steady pace and prevent your mind from wandering. As long as the mind is given a time limit to complete something, it will focus on achieving the goal before time is up. This will ultimately save you from getting distracted and accidently moving on to something else before completing what you’ve started. There is nothing worse than spending the entire day working on ten different projects, just to feel like you’ve accomplished absolutely nothing. Avoid this pain-staking mishap by setting a timer or a few alarms to remind yourself of how much time you have left to finish what you’re working on.

Time Yourself with a Watch

In the case that you actually happen to get stuck on one subject, task or whatever it is you are trying to accomplish, be aware of how much extra time you’re spending. Also be aware of whether that time is being well spent or wasted. The goal is to be the most productive in a minimal amount of time, so take a moment to step out of the intense energy that’s surrounding your workspace. Doing so will keep you from becoming frustrated and feeling defeated.

The Most Important Tool - Your Body

Let your mind and your body rest in between tasks and take short breaks when necessary; otherwise, you will slowly start to forget about your body’s needs as you become less mindful of your health and more aware of your desire to succeed. Even when you catch yourself falling asleep, you’ll want to convince yourself that you’re fully capable of staying up and squeezing in that last bit of work. Letting the mind rest doesn’t necessarily mean that you should go take a nap or watch TV, but take a quick walk to the bathroom or join an activity that doesn’t require much thinking will provide ample time for you to gather yourself and your thoughts. Getting up and walking around will be enough movement to stretch some of those lazy muscles that have been sedentary for hours.

When you start to feel tired, the idea of trying to stay awake may sound approachable at the moment, but forcing yourself to stay awake is the least effective decision you can make. You’ve been working at full speed all day and haven’t had a chance to catch your breath. Subconsciously, the mind will want to wander as you become more susceptible to distractions, and soon you’ll find yourself struggling to stay focused. You will spend twice the amount of time that a recharged and well-rested person would take, only to deliver something that you’re less than satisfied with. Time that has been carefully used for maximum productivity will not deliver anything shy of excellent.

Being productive is not always as easy or as simple as it seems. Even when you have a lot of work to get done, remember to approach tasks with structure that will guide you. Failure to keep an organized plan may only cause you to waste time keeping yourself busy, instead of resourcefully using that energy towards success. Always keep these key tips in mind and you will save valuable time in the long run: get in the habit of writing down important things, form a plan and don’t be afraid to get specific, maintain an organized workspace and keep your mind and body well-rested. Be conscious of using these methods and soon, approaching any task will be effortless.