How to Get and Stay Organized: Your Absolute First Step for Directing Business Success
Make your workspace like Ka’ena Point.
There was a day at work when everything collapsed into absolute chaos. I actually felt my heart rate surge as dread and panic seemed to take control. I had to get up and walk off the adrenaline.
When I returned to my office I stood in the doorway and took a long look at my space. My office is pretty big, probably 200 square feet, and all I saw were stacks and stacks of folders, binders, and papers – everywhere including the floor! No wonder my heart rate was elevated. I didn’t have enough flat space on my desk for a piece of paper for all the stuff I needed to work on. All I wanted was to get out of there!
In stark contrast . . .
One of the most inspiring places I’ve ever been is Ka’ena Point on the island of O’ahu, actually only as far as a minivan can take you because you have to hike if you want to get to the “point.”
It is the most remote place on this Earth I’ve ever been.
I stood at the edge of about a ten-foot cliff with a beautiful white beach below for as far as you could see. I and the three other people with me were the only humans around.
The only sound was the rhythm of the waves hitting the beach. I have never been so calmed by a place in all my life.
Oh, the irony!
The waves at Ka’ena are massively powerful surges that churn up three feet of beach sand every time they reach the shore. This beach is dangerous for even the best surfers in the world!
How can this be so calming?
The fearsome energy of the waves was the only turbulence in a vast and beautiful view of open space.
Make your workspace like Ka’ena Point.
Have just ONE attention-grabbing project in view at a time.
When your eyes see a cluttered environment your brain loses focus. And a distracted mind cannot process information. So long productivity!
I know most of us have spent days getting organized only to have the relentless demands on our time undo our hard work. All that time organizing feels wasted, so we just resign ourselves to working in a chaotic environment.
You can run a business this way. I’m proof.
You will never have the margin you need to grow past owning your job.
The benefits of getting organized:
You stop wasting time searching for things
It is a total waste of time rifling through stacks of paper or searching through your whole hard drive for that doc you absolutely have to have. If you want time to work on growing your business you have to aggressively protect every minute.
Those small bits of wasted time, the five minutes here or the three minutes there, will add up to large blocks of time you can never get back.
You stop losing data
Everyone thinks his or her memory is better than it is. Even if you were born with a photographic memory, it disappears by the age of twelve. This is the information age, and lost information is unacceptable be it paperwork, ideas, customer info, customer requests, or expense deductions.
You are forced to choose between spending precious time recovering the data or losing the benefit of having it.
You stop working on lower priority projects
Have you ever picked the next thing to do based on how easy it was to get started? This is usually a smaller, easier task. I mean you can get a lot of those small to-dos off your list and feel like you’ve been productive.
Unfortunately, all those small to-dos are low priority and won’t get you to your goals. If you’ve taken the time to get organized starting that big high priority project isn’t as daunting.
Remember there is a difference between staying busy and staying productive. One will keep you stressed and other will make you successful.
You stay motivated
Isn’t a fresh clean start invigorating? No worries in the back of your mind. No ominous feelings hanging over your head.
When you’re organized, you have control to work on the most important task. When you know your work is meaningful, you are more likely dive in and fully focus your effort.
In other words, important work keeps your motivated. Nobody gets excited to spend his or her days on work that doesn’t make a difference.
If you STILL aren’t convinced:
You will serve your customer better!
If all four benefits I just outlined seem to be internal business issues that your customers never see, you are deluding yourself.
Do you ever have to rush through work because of a fast-approaching deadline?
Have you ever had to redo work because you forgot a customer request?
Have you put off a project that would improve your customers’ experience because can’t find the time to finish it?
Do your customers hear a lack of energy and motivation in your voice?
Internal issues will eventually directly impact your customers. Whether this is in a good way or in a bad way can be traced to your level of organization.
Amazon has proven that the customer experience is everything. They continually make very small improvements to make doing business with them a better experience. Unless you live under a rock you know: if Amazon is anything, it’s organized!
If you are still reading this then I know you’re ready to get started.
My top 5 tips for getting and staying organized:
1. Get all your projects on a to-do list
You have to be able to quickly see what needs to be done. If you don’t keep a complete and regularly updated list then you risk forgetting an important task or project. This list frees you from trying to remember it all and allows you to focus your mental energy just on your current work. Download "How To Create An Awesome To Do List" for more details.
2. Keep a notebook handy
Information comes at you all day long, but not necessarily when you can deal with it. Jot yourself a note and get back to that important work.
3. Keep your work space clear (including digital work space)
Remember the goal is to have only ONE thing to focus on. If you have completed Tip 1 then all the things you need to get done are on a list. You don’t need a visual reminder.
4. Have a place for everything
This seems like a very basic idea, but it takes dedication to make it work. Keep in mind how great it would be to go right to where something is. No more searching around for what you need.
5. Organize for 15 minutes at the end of every day
Staying organized requires regular upkeep. If you don’t make it a habit you will return to a state of chaos. The good news is if you spend even a small amount of time each day on upkeep you can stay organized.
Update your to-do list. Process all the day’s notes you jotted down. Clear off your workspace. Put things back in their place. Review your to-do list for what you want to accomplish the next day.
I truly believe being organized is The Absolute First Step for Directing Business Success. Without organization, you can’t take control of your day or your business.
One final suggestion:
6. Keep it simple.
You can’t turn a car around by suddenly turning the steering wheel. You’ll spin out of control. You have to take the time to slow down in the direction you are going. Make the turn, and only then can you accelerate in the other direction. The same is true for getting organized.
Make one change and give yourself time to build that new habit. Then you can make another change.
Staying organized isn’t a project with a finish date you can put on a calendar. You will have to be committed to working at it every day. But then again, entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. If it were easy everyone would be doing it.
So, in next week’s post, I go into detail on how to create what I believe is the best tool to keep organized so you definitely should check it out.
Now ask yourself:
How can a little more organization improve my day?
How can a little more organization improve my customers’ experience?
Let me know your answers or share your organizing suggestions in the comments below.
Don’t forget to download "How To Create An Awesome To Do List" to help you get and stay organized!
P.S. Last but not least . . .
Check out my Facebook Live on this topic. I share how I personally stay organized during the chaos of tax season! facebook.com/susanwbrownsolutions