I'm told executives lose an hour a day looking for lost items – that's a shocking 250 hours a year. Wouldn't those hours go a long way toward new business development? How would your business thrive?
Stop reading if you're perfectly organized ...
Otherwise, it makes sense to set up some basic office systems. Here are some ideas for starters.
A computer calendar makes it simple to schedule recurring events (the gym, monthly networking meetings), as well as follow ups for important prospects.
Next, slot in the big rocks (time-eating meetings, work projects, personal business). What's great about the computer calendar is you can view the week's landscape. And you can slice in errands as you schedule travel to various parts of town.
Designating in-the-office and on-the-go days is helpful, as well as project work days and client days. Fill in smaller slots with phone calls and admin tasks. Schedule a half hour for lunch every day to actually take a break (how novel).
A computer calendar helps you log important due dates (estimated taxes) and holidays (so you actually take a day off like other people). One half day for planning each week goes a long way toward eliminating those awful days putting out fires. (What will you actually do when there's no drama?)
The Dreaded To Do List
You all have a Master List (a running list of all projects and tasks) and a prioritized daily To Do List, right? Try working on only one to three major projects each day, scheduling larger chunks of uninterrupted time (I did say uninterrupted time). Greater focus really pays off in knocking out those longer projects. It's more reality-based so you'll feel accomplished, not frustrated, as you check items off.
If you create a regular time slot to take care of papers, mail, email, and other routine tasks, they don't pile up so you can actually use your holidays and weekends for relaxation and fun (what a concept). I limit these sessions to one to two hours daily, although when things pile up, it may be worthwhile to schedule a catch-up day.
Those Nasty Financial Chores
I schedule a half-day per month for my bookkeeper who pays my business and personal bills, does tax preparation and reconciles bank statements. It's so worth it. It would take me a full day (she's more efficient than I) and tax preparation is a breeze as it's all done in Quickbooks. We're switching to online bill payment. I use the time she's in my office to do all those annoying administrative tasks and calls. All my bills arrive at the beginning of the month so we never pay late. Credit card companies will gladly move your due dates.
I've set up an everyday file sorter (sometimes called a tickler file) with days of the month and months of the year (purchased at an office supply store). Great for event notices and time based tasks. I add a note on my calendar for safety.
Put A Little Color into Your Life
I create color-coded hot files for active projects. Particularly good for you right-brain creative types but left-brainers like these, too. Green folders for financial, blue for personal, red for marketing, and purple for NYU teaching. So much nicer than piles of papers everywhere, and folders are less likely to be lost. Oh, don't forget to label the folders with specific project names. I'm just saying ...
We coach and train on Time Management, Work Process and we've added hands-on Professional Organizing to our services. Now marketing fits in daily and it's a happier world, one business at a time.