Your organization strategy will determine your level of success.
When I originally wrote this article my kids were starting school virtually and gawd knows what we had in store, #AmIRight?
I’ll stick by having a strategy that works for you will help you complete tasks, and keep up with your goals. Once you get behind it’s hard to catch up. I told my kids this same, thing but there were times they lived it and felt it. They become familiar friends.
Simply keeping up is not as effective as being organized and keeping on top of it all. Just keeping up by the skin on your teeth doesn’t feel good.
We want to thrive, not just survive.
I love organization and some would say I am super organized but it came from years as a paralegal in the legal profession that required me to be on top of it all. Keeping track of documents, sometimes massive amounts of documents, being able to ensure others could find things quickly, calendaring deadlines, tracking timelines to ensure we had everything in by the time we had to produce documents or use them for hearings. It was a crash course in being organized to the nth degree.
Naturally, I carried this organization over into my own business and into my marketing career.
You don’t have to be organized by nature – you just have to have a strategy or system that works for you.
Your organization strategy will determine your level of success.
When I originally wrote this article, my kids were starting school virtually, and gawd knows what we had in store, #AmIRight?
I’ll stick to having a strategy that works for you and will help you complete tasks and keep up with your goals. Once you get behind, it’s hard to catch up. I told my kids this same thing, but there were times they lived it and felt it. They become familiar friends.
Simply keeping up is not as effective as being organized and keeping on top of things. Just keeping up by the skin on your teeth doesn’t feel good.
We want to thrive, not just survive.
I love organization, and some would say I am super organized, but it came from years as a paralegal in the legal profession that required me to be on top of it all. Keeping track of documents, sometimes massive amounts of documents, ensuring others could find things quickly, calendaring deadlines, tracking timelines to ensure we had everything in by the time we had to produce documents or use them for hearings. It was a crash course in being organized to the nth degree.
Naturally, I carried this organization over into my business and marketing career.
You don’t have to be organized by nature – you need to have a strategy or system that works for you.
These are some of the ways I stay organized. Not to say this same system will work for you. You have to spend some time finding your groove. Learn what helps keep you on track, where you struggle and how you can adjust or hand it off as needed.
Planner & CalendarFirst, paper is my jam. My go-to is a planner I can use daily, one I can outline annual goals that I break down my 90-day goals and break them down further by week. I prefer a weekly preview with a daily layout to track my appointments and take notes. I like to use sticky notes in my planner that I can move around when things change. Never know when something might change.
I use Google Calendar for my appointments and reminders. My day-to-day appointments will get jotted into my planner along with my daily top three.
We keep Big Goals, project planning and annual goals in Asana.
- Keeping Up with Email
This one might cause a strong visceral reaction in you. I clear out my email almost daily. Email I do not like to get behind on. Once I do, it’s over; I’ve lost the war.
Ok, a bit dramatic, but I know the struggle with email, and I know so many people who say they have thousands of emails as if it’s a badge of honor. That triggers massive anxiety for me just typing it.
Here’s how I attack it.
First, let’s address work-related emails. I use Outlook. I like Outlook because I can flag emails, schedule reminders and organize emails, so things are less likely to slip through the cracks.
- Flags to remind me that I have a task in the email.
- Unread email: If I get an email from a colleague or client and I need to do something on it – the email gets marked as unread to remind me to come back to it.
- The rest gets filed into a client/account/case folder and moved out of my box immediately.
- Folders: Clients (get folders), Software, Office, Business, and Resources are just some of the folders I have to organize my email.
Non-work-related email (newsletters, industry email lists, sales emails, etc.)
- Schedule 30 minutes daily. You may end up down a rabbit hole, so do it when you can afford to jump in (say at the end of your work day?).
- It goes straight to the trash bin if I haven’t read it in a week. If I haven’t read it by then, I know it will not get read. A week’s worth of new emails came in, and if I haven’t read or processed the email, it’s probably not that important to me.
- Don’t go through emails if you don’t have time to read and organize them at that moment. It’ll save you from being sidetracked when you are in the middle of work. Save it for (your less productive time of the day)
- My less productive time of the day is sitting in front of the TV after dinner.
- Or your end-of-the-workday wrap-up will force you to limit your time because, well, you gotta go home! And if I do end up down a rabbit hole, it’s not during my most productive time of the day.
- Create an “opt-in” email address “firstname.lastname@example.org” for offers/signups that ask for your email address. Now you can stop using your business or personal email for clutter. If emails become essential to me or are from my mentors, those emails get moved to my personal or business email for daily reads.
- Don’t say YES
Don’t say yes to everybody and everything. One of my biggest hold-ups is saying yes to everything, and I end up with too much on my plate. All.The.Time.
Suppose you’re like me; wanting to help others to a detriment can be a roadblock to success. I have to say no sometimes, and that boundary is my priority. People might not be happy about it all the time, but they will surely respect your time more when you don’t always say yes.
How? Well, add things to your schedule before others take up your time. Block time slots on your calendar and hold to the commitment; this is most important to do for tasks you know you never complete.
- Your most optimal time?
I work within my optimal work time. I’m most productive in the morning when I can get up before my family and knock things out.
My brain is over it by 2 pm. I know I am not most productive when my family is up and about or in the evenings.
But it’s an excellent time for my daily reading and email clean-up.
Know yourself well here when and how you are most likely to get work done. If those aren’t your peak performance times, don’t set yourself up for failure if you know you won’t get it done early in the morning or after the kids go to bed.
- Don’t let things pile up.
This step is very likely the key to my organizational success.
I do not let things build up and “come back to them later” (as you saw above in my email rules) because it will only overwhelm me and result in No Result!
Some things must be done daily, do it, and get it over with; you’ll thank yourself tomorrow.
Luckily, I have a slightly obsessive tendency to avoid letting things build up. If I don’t do it, it’ll make me anxious.
If you don’t have this tendency, you’ll have to create a daily habit and probably plan some time for the things you need to do daily. (Tip: Schedule it on your calendar).
- Mail gets taken care of immediately. Toss what I know I won’t read or pass it on and process what needs my attention.
- Get through things on my daily top 3 list – do these first.
If you need help with not letting things pile up, make a list of the things that need daily attention, jot them down and make sure you knock it all out before your day ends.
- Be mindful
Be mindful of how much wasted and distracted time you spend – chatting, reading news, checking your phone, checking Facebook notifications, checking email that doesn’t matter at the moment.
Are you just putting off what needs to be done? How do you feel after those distractions? Did it help you feel productive and get the important things done?
Do these things take you down the rabbit hole?
Turn them all off – no notifications on your phone or computer – at least during work time.
It is a painful habit to break, but your success will suffer if you don’t control them.
Tough love here – if you want to be successful, you must follow through, especially as a business owner.
- Planning meals
Planning my meals is so good on so many levels. It means shopping once a week; no brainpower and energy are necessary. Avoid the dreaded “what’s for dinner or lunch today” question; it’s an interruption that requires tapping into willpower and bandwidth.
You can even go as far as meal prepping but if full-on meal prep with all the washing, chopping, cutting and storing is too much, then plan out the meals and shop before the week starts. That saves a lot of bandwidth.
- Prep for the week
I take 20 minutes each Sunday to review my monthly goals and plan out my weekly goals.
At the end of the day, I review what I did and did not get done. I plan the next day in my paper planner and write my top 3-5 and what needs to carry over from today.
Planning is time well spent to ensure I’m on track, and it clears my mind so I can enjoy my family and sleep well at night without waking up worried I forgot something.
Having all my goals written down and my week outlined, I can think of other things without fear I’m going to forget things. It clears VALUABLE mind space.
Being organized is a significant factor in whether I feel overwhelmed or out of control.
We have lots on our plates as business owners.
Stop wasting time thinking about what needs to be done next, rechecking items 3-4 times to make sure they did get completed, and start cutting out things as simple as “what’s for lunch” that can add to the daily overwhelm and drain valuable brain resources.
Start organizing and getting ahead of things to significantly reduce your overwhelm, allowing you to focus on the essential things in your business and life.