How to Organize Your Time — part 2

You don’t need to buy an expensive paper-based or software system for getting organized. The late Charles E. Hummel, the granddaddy of the multi-billion dollar self-organization industry, offered this simple method for getting organized each day—decide what’s important. “We shunt aside important tasks because we’ve become slaves to the tyranny of the urgent,” Hummel wrote in his classic essay, “Tyranny of the Urgent.”

So deciding what’s important will release you from this tyranny. You’ll made the decision about what’s important by resisting urgent demands of others in order do what’s really important to you in accordance with your goals and ambitions.

There’s a difference between important and urgent. Webster defines urgent as “a situation requiring immediate attention.” You’ll drive yourself nuts when you believe everything needs your attention today. “It is not hard work,” says Hummel, “but doubt and misgiving that produce anxiety as you review a month or a year and become oppressed by the pile of unfinished tasks.”

Hard work is good for you. Accomplishing many tasks, one task at a time, is energizing. Hummel sees the cause of stress in this fact: “We live in constant tension between the urgent and the important.” However, there are tasks you don’t need to do today or this week. Visiting a sick friend, seeing an academy award winning movie, or reading the best seller you picked up at Costco can wait.

So it’s the choices you make, not lack of time. Choose what you can put off until tomorrow. Then deal with what’s left—the important tasks you can easily handle today. As discussed in the previous post on Your Career Service, Deciding what’s important is Hummel’s first principle of how to organize your time. Hummel would have you write a goal for each important activity and establish the time it takes to accomplish it.

You get control of time by giving the important tasks proper priority for your day, week, or month. Remember to allow time for personal needs such as hobbies and exercise or meditation.

When it comes to how to get things done in your job search or career, here’s a coaching tip for implementing Hummel’s first principle. It’s called the 2W Mantra:What am I going to do today and when am I going to do it?” You can repeat this mantra as you sit down to plan each workday.

You might also be interested in reading over 40 tips for how to organize your job search. They’re in the third chapter of my book, “Your One-Minute Job Finding Coach.” As the title implies, each tip can be read in a minute. The one-minute coaching vignettes contained in the book are about how to find a job and manage your career while coping with the hassles of it all. Enjoy.

Copyright ©2015 by Ransom (Randy) Place

About the Author

RANDY PLACE IS A JOB-FINDING and executive coach, writer on career topics, broadcaster, and host of For twenty-three years, he helped thousands of employees who had been let go from JPMorgan Chase find jobs. And he coached executives at CBS Television, Pitney Bowes, and major outplacement firms in New York on job-finding techniques, communications skills, and selling strategies. An accomplished seminar leader and speaker, Randy has designed and presented workshops on interviewing, telephoning techniques, job-search writing, and sales training nationwide. Randy's groundbreaking nationally syndicated radio series, Your Career Service, has been heard on over two hundred radio stations across the United States. And his articles on career topics have appeared in the Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly. A former broadcast journalist in New York, he has also been a commercial spokesperson for an array of national and regional advertisers. In addition, Randy was a sales executive at NBC Radio and the New York City sales manager for syndication at Wolper Productions. He holds a Bachelor's in Sociology and Broadcasting from Syracuse University, and a Master's in Journalism from New York University.