When you hear that statistic about how 54%* of businesses fail in their first few years (*percentage totally made up), I’m going to guess a good chunk of them suffered from horrible time management. It’s so easy to fall into the pattern of losing your morning to Instagram stories, frantically scrambling to tackle your To Do list before supper, and then lying awake, staring at the ceiling, beating yourself up about how long tomorrow’s task list now is (not that I speak from experience or anything…)
It’s time to get out of that pattern with these easy (and free!) systems for getting your business organized!
1. Get your office into tip-top shape.
When my surroundings are chaotic, my mind ends up spinning, my life starts to feel out of control, and my business seems unorganized and overwhelming! It’s amazing how much easier it is to FOCUS when you don’t have a million little distractions on your desk.
So here’s tip #1… CLEAN YOUR DESK! And I’m not talking about moving things into drawers so you can’t see them any more, either. You need to take an afternoon off and really dig in.
Start by making four piles to sort everything:
Need: The things you, duh, need throughout your work day. Pens, notepads, markers, your favorite coffee mug, etc.
Keep: The things you need to store or put away but don’t necessarily have to have right in front of you.
Sell/Donate/Recycle: Do you know a teacher? She’d probably love to take your unopened box of file folders.
Trash: This is my favorite one. I tend to trash a LOT. Thanks Marie Kondo... If you haven’t touched it, it’s just taking up space, and nobody else wants it either.
When you’re done putting everything into its new home, grab the best smelling wood polish (love the one by Method...mmm cherries) and polish your desk. (<<Bonus- you need a trip to Target, bummer...)
2. Set your calendar straight.
Find a planner (love this one by One Canoe Two and obviously anything from Sugar Paper LA) and get to plan, plan, planning! Don't forget to add everything to your digital calendar (Google or iCal). Unfortunately my paper planner doesn't pop up with any reminders, so it's a necessary two step process. Why two steps? Because I can't help it- feel free to skip the paper.
Bonus: if you have time, or a second day to organize, start mapping your overall business strategy for the year: What are your goals? Are you planning any launches, giveaways, or promotions? What type of content will you create each month? It’s OK if you don’t have all of the details just yet, but it is important to lay out a strategic plan for moving your business forward. If you don't want to figure this out on your own, and want to go through my proven strategy to getting your business organized, click here to see my solution.
Finally, you need to tackle your day-to-day agenda. Schedule your vacation days and office hours. Block off creative time for generating content. DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP- yes, it's OKAY to plan time to create and execute beyond your client matters. Plan to work during your prime time (for me it’s the wee hours of the morning), block out a lunch hour, and schedule a few stretch breaks.
3. Get a grip on your task list.
Brain dump EVERYTHING… what you need to do, what you want to do, what you’ve thought of doing. You can write them down (hello, bullet journals!) or get fancy with a system like Asana (my personal choice). The goal is to get the little ideas out of your head so you can gain some space to be more productive. Once your tasks are “on paper”, set your due dates and delegate some work (if you can).
Now that your desk is organized, shiny, and distraction-free... keep it this way! Be sure to stay on top of your master task list, too. If you want to punch me in the face as you read that, please know I am one of the messiest people, err, at least, I was. The only effective way I've found to take care of all this is by taking the extra step to do everything RIGHT THEN. I know it's hard, you're late, the dogs and/or kids are screaming, or dinner is about to burn. But you have to do it right then- you can't leave it until the next day. Make sure everything has a place, and then put everything back every day. Take all of the sticky notes and scraps around your desk, add any new To Dos to your system, and toss the paper in the recycle bin.