Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Author Jan Christensen Talks Time Management

Buried Under Clutter coverI’m excited to welcome author Jan Christensen to Thoughts in Progress today to talk about time management and her new release, BURIED UNDER CLUTTER, the second installment in her Tina Tales Mystery series.

Here’s a brief synopsis of BURIED UNDER CLUTTER:

      Someone screams inside the old, neglected Victorian house next door, and Tina Shaw runs to find out what’s wrong. A woman bursts out the door saying her aunt is dead. Murdered. Tina notices that the hallway is piled high with cartons. Later when the woman begs her to help clean up the house, Tina hesitates. She’s just begun a career as a professional organizer, though, and her hands itch to start on a new job.
      As Tina sifts through the clutter, she finds clues the murdered woman left behind. She learns the woman was rich, and all her relatives are suspects. But when the will is read, Tina and her family also become suspects. After her mother is arrested, Tina begins investigating in earnest with the help of her boyfriend, Hank (the Hunk). Will she find out who the killer is before her own life is put in danger?

Now please join me in giving Jan a warm welcome as she talks about time management. Welcome, Jan.

Mason asked me to talk about one of my passions—time management. That, my family and friends, writing, reading, and personal organization are what interests me the most. So, I’ve studied all those subjects over the years (yes, including family, friendship, and reading).  

Time management is something that affects all of us, especially in today’s world. The faster we can zip through unpleasant chores and have more time for our passions, the happier we’ll be.

To do a good job of it takes knowledge and planning. Self-knowledge is very important. For example, when do you have the most energy during a day? That’s when you should do the most important things on your goals list. When does your energy lag? That’s when you should schedule those routine, even boring, tasks that don’t take a lot of thought or energy.

If you are a procrastinator, a perfectionist, low-energy, in a lot of pain, handicapped in anyway, you can have difficulty managing your time if you don’t allow for your particular situation. Once you learn how to overcome or compensate for problems by getting one-on-one help, if needed, or studying/reading about it and working on it, then you will better be able to accomplish what you want to do in the time available.

After that is when the planning comes in. The most important points I’ve read and heard about are these:

          1.     Make up a to-do list daily.

          2.     Pick three or four things you want to do each day—for example, personal care/exercise/eat right,
your work (for pay or volunteer), your environment, social activities with family and friends, financial matters, etc. Once those important items are finished for the day, you can relax and do whatever entertains you, guilt-free. And yes, guilt can arise from goals you want to accomplish you’ve set for yourself.

          3.     Find your most productive time of day and do the most important things on your to-do list then.

          4.     Decrease stress by eliminating all unnecessary things from your life, whether that means clutter, toxic people, situations, or anything else.

          5.     Try to move around more. Set a timer if you sit a lot to work, and get up every hour for ten minutes. Do a chore. Stretch. Make a phone call standing/walking around. Anything to get the blood flowing again. Make a list of all the chores you can do in ten minutes. You can keep a clutter-free, clean house using this method. And be more productive when you sit down again to work after the break.

          6.     Think efficiently. For example, it’s smart to run all your errands once a week, using lists. It’s smart to vacuum the whole house at one time (even if in ten-minute increments) instead of pulling the vacuum out and setting it up every day to do a different room. Same for any other cleaning chore. If it involves supplies and equipment, do those at one time or at least on one day. Arrange your kitchen and office in a work-flow pattern. 

          7.     Handle everything that comes into your house as soon as you can. Put things you’ve bought away immediately. Handle the mail the same day it arrives. Clean out your purse, wallet, and the kids’ backpacks when you and/or they get home.

          8.     Habit is destiny. For everything you want to do every day, from brushing your teeth to cleaning up the kitchen before bed and making that bed in the morning, make it routine by doing it for several weeks without a day off. The more things are habitual, the less you have to think about them and the less your mind will suggest you don’t do them.

These are the major items I can think of to help you make the life you want. Here’s my favorite quote: A successful life does not result from chance, but rather from a succession of successful days. Make every day a success, and your life will be incredible.

Jan, thanks so much for joining us today and sharing these helpful tips. I can always use more help when it comes to getting organized and these points can help do the trick.

Now here’s a bit of background on Jan.

Jan Christensen grew up in New Jersey. She bounced around the world as an Army wife, and in Texas when her husband retired. After traveling for eleven years in a motorhome, she settled down in the Texas Coastal Bend. 

Her published novels are: Sara’s Search, Revelations, Organized to Death, Perfect Victim, Blackout, and most recently, Buried Under Clutter. Jan has had over sixty short stories appear in various places over the last dozen years. She also writes a series of short stories about Artie, a NY burglar who gets into some very strange situations while on the job.

For more on Jan and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks so much for stopping by during Jan’s visit and be sure to check out her latest release, BURIED UNDER CLUTTER. Are you organized when it comes to home and work? Do you have any organizational tips you’d like to share?

*This post contains affiliate links.


  1. Jan, thanks again for joining us today. It's always great to find new ways to stay organized. Wishing you much success.

  2. I juggle so many things (and I'm a perfectionist and a procrastinator) that I have to stay on top of my time. I also don't allow excuses - I just decide to do something and do it.

  3. I love the premise of your book. I really hate clutter and so the character's job appeals to me and I love mysteries!
    My son recently told me about "swallowing the frog", it's when you take your least favorite task and do it first, swallow the frog and get it over with. I've been trying to do that lately. I do my favorite task last because it encourages me to finish all other tasks.
    I know I'm a morning person so I like to do as much as I can then.
    Great post!

  4. Mason - Thanks for hosting Jan.

    Jan - Thanks for sharing your ideas about time management. I think that the more you reflect on the way you use time, the better you can use it. I wish you continued success.

  5. Mason, thanks for hosting Jan.

    Jan - I needed this reminder today. Sometimes I do feel as if I am drowning in clutter (literal and metaphorical). I have MS and what energy I have is decidedly morning energy. Very early morning energy. Love my lists - but ensure that at least one thing on it is something I know I can achieve. That sense of accomplishment is a reward in itself. And yes, sometimes I have used my lists to beat myself up. And twenty-nine things on a daily list is an insanity...

  6. Mason, thanks so much for having me here. I'm sorry I didn't get here yesterday to answer comments. Time got away from me. LOL You have a terrific blog. Now I'll answer the rest of the comments and let my world know this post is up.

  7. Alex, thanks for commenting. Sounds as if you're not that much of a procrastinator. I've struggled with getting things done all my life, so I boned up on systems to help. Sometimes they do, and sometimes not so much.

  8. Clarrisa, yes, I've read about "swallowing the frog." Great advice. For me, I do the two things I want most to accomplish every day first--one is write 1,000 words and the other is exercise. Once those are done, the rest of the day usually falls into place for me.

  9. Margot, thanks for coming by. I agree--the more you consciously think about time management, the better you'll be at it. I've read so many books and tried very hard to do a good job of it, and most of the time, I'm pretty happy about how I'm managing my time.

  10. Elephant's Child--having a condition that impacts your ability to do what you want to do is very hard to deal with. And I think you're right. Do one important thing during the time your energy is highest, and consider your day a success. Please, trim those to-do lists down to size. For you, I'd suggest no more than three or four each day. On bad days, just one would be enough. Take care of yourself! That should be top priority. For everyone.

  11. I can't believe I missed this yesterday. Umm...maybe Jan needs to come live with me for a week or two and whip me into shape :)

    Hi, Mason!

  12. Great tips, Jan. Now where the heck did I put that list?

  13. Well, Carol, we both missed it, so don't feel bad. I sometimes need whipping into shape myself. That's why I delved into this subject--to improve. Doesn't mean I'm perfect. LOL

  14. Thanks, John. Hope you found your list by now. LOL


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.