Get organised in 15 minutes a day? Impossible you might say. Well it can be done and if you keep reading I’ll tell you how.
The following may seem like obvious advice, but you’d be surprised to find out how many people don’t do these simple things. If you’re looking for ways to get organised quickly and easily chances are you are skipping these simple steps.
First five minutes: Plan your week
Regardless of what sort of calendar or scheduling system you use it can only keep you organised if you actually use it. It is good to establish a habit of checking your calendar at least once each day so you can see what you have coming up and have time to prepare for it. Do you need to have a presentation ready for a prospective client on Friday? Do you have a pending deadline? Is there something you have to read before a meeting or phone call? Are you going to be out of the office for some reason which will impact on work time? All of these things will need to be taken into consideration. Make sure you are adding all your important deadlines and meetings into your calendar so you can see them at a glance.
Next five minutes: Plan your days
Once you have a clear idea of the big picture, it’s a good idea to look at how you’re going to manage your days. Are there particular days or part days that you need to set aside for particular tasks? Do you schedule your visits to client sites on a particular day? Or your appointments on a specific day or two? Try to piggyback appointments so that you can minimise drop-ins and maximise uninterrupted work time. Schedule blocks of time for client work, for administrative work, for sales and marketing and business development, for balancing the books. And do your best to stick to it!
Last five minutes: Plan your tasks
Let’s be honest, we rarely accomplish every single task we want to complete every day. The best way to maximise your output is to concentrate on a single task at a time and work on it through to completion. Of course, for larger tasks and projects this may not be feasible, but you can break them down into bite-sized chunks that can be worked on one-at-a-time. At the beginning or end of each day (whichever works best for your particular mojo) make a list of what you want and need to achieve during the next working day. Then go through the list and add the letter A next to the items that absolutely have to be completed that day. Put a letter B next to the ones that it would be really good to get done that day. Put a letter C next to the ones that could wait until the day after if necessary. Now go through and number all the category A items in priority order starting with 1 for the most important. Then number the category B items in the same way. Then the Cs. Now you have an ordered list. When you start work you know which items to work on and in which order. Start with item A1 and work on it until it is complete. If you find yourself getting distracted check your list and go back to working on that item until it is finished. Then start work on A2. Once all the As are completed you can start on the Bs. Obviously there will be occasions where another higher priority comes up, but this should be the exception and not the rule.
If you can’t work out which items are the most important (not necessarily the most urgent) prioritise those items that move you toward achieving your biggest goals first. For example, if you goal is to grow your business you might need to prioritise time for marketing, networking and other promotional activities. If you goal is to increase your cashflow you might need to prioritise time working on existing client work, identifying sources of new clients, systemising your invoicing and debtor followup, and so on.
I have found these simple processes have really kept me focused and have greatly increased my output. It has also had the added bonus of reducing stress because I know where I am up to and what I am doing and am much less likely to get distracted. I also find it easier to pick back up where I left off when there is an unexpected interruption such as a phone call or the doorbell rings.
Are there any other simple organisational strategies that you use that work well in your small business or entrepreneurial journey? Please leave a comment about your experience.
Until next time,