“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to success is found in your daily routine.” – John Maxwell
Welcome to Episode 32: Habits of Highly Organized People …
When you own your own business being organized is a key factor to accomplishing success. But for me and millions of other scatter-brained business owners, how so we organize our chaotic worlds?
There is always an ever-running to-do list, new ideas and goals around every corner, last minute client projects, email to tend to, passwords to remember, professional development seminars and webinars … and seriously, this list could go on for days. I don’t know about you, but some days I feel I need a compass because my mind is wandering in a million different directions -- and also usually wandering a thousand miles away …!
It’s true, you really don’t need fancy products or a humungous team of consultants and workers bees to help you get your act together. And keep it together. BOOST YOUR OWN PRODUCTIVITY by creating a system which can be based on these simple yet essential cornerstones of success …. Through organization!
Here's what we will be untangling in this episode ...
Are you ready?
Pop in your awesome earbuds and let's dive in!
As you all know I'm a keener when it comes to organization and productivity (putting my "secret sauce" of creativity on the sidelines for a few moments). Especially with all the distractions in our busy lives, it can be nearly impossible to focus on what's most important in our businesses.
But trust me, you can do it if you get your priorities straight.
This is something I see frequently in my line of business … People do not finish the day feeling accomplished then they end up judging themselves for #AllTheThings still left on their lists. And more often than not, we are our own worst critic and think that calling out our “laziness” or “inefficiencies” can lead to some sort of mindset-adjustment to get around the roadblocks to our success.
When you own your own business, being organized is a key factor to accomplishing success. But for me and millions of other scatter-brained business owners, how do we organize our chaotic worlds?
There is always an ever-running to-do list, new ideas, and goals around every corner, last-minute client projects, email to tend to, passwords to remember, professional development seminars and webinars … and seriously, this list could go on for days. I don’t know about you, but some days I feel I need a compass because my mind is wandering in a million different directions -- and also usually wandering a thousand miles away …!
Did you know that over 96% of people say their lives are better with to-do lists? 89% of those folks say they enjoy making those lists. And a good 28% of us identify ourselves as obsessive list-makers?
There is even a good 50% who admittedly love to write down tasks they have already completed to then cross them off triumphantly. Yup! Guilty!
This way, they have a more complete picture of everything they’ve accomplished. Yup, I admittedly fall under this category as well … guilty as charged! (LOL!)
If you think about it, it is just another opportunity to cross something off and feel good that we tackled another item on our virtual pile. It’s sort of insane how much some of us just love crossing things off, huh?
It’s true, you really don’t need fancy products or a humungous team of consultants and workers bees to help you get your act together. And keep it together. BOOST YOUR OWN PRODUCTIVITY by creating a system that can be based on these simple yet essential cornerstones of success …. Through organization!
First things first …
WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN.
Whether it’s on paper, in your project management tool, on your phone, or on your computer. This will help you focus and declutter your mind. Save some space for other things and help you from feeling overwhelmed … reduce the burden on your brain! This will also help you plan and coordinate other projects, meetings, and goals.
Next would be to tackle your schedule and deadlines. Try breaking your goals into smaller steps and mark them down in your day planner or calendar. This will help you establish a time frame to purely focus on each goal and all the steps involved in accomplishing it. Creating a breakdown of each goal will also help you feel more motivated by keeping track of each step and that amazing feeling as you get to strike it off your checklist.
FACT: Most people (about 83%) still prefer the tactile experience of writing lists with paper and pen. The visceral pleasure of crossing things off cannot be underestimated and people often feel more accountable when a list is in their own handwriting.
Second most important on this mini-list …
Putting things off just creates additional stress that you really do not need or want. It will also kill your motivation and leave you feeling stuck and overwhelmed. So, try to accomplish things as soon as you can or while you’re feeling motivated and aware of the urgency.
FACT: Motivation dies within 5 seconds of postponing.
Not only should you try to tackle things right away, but these “things” should be put in their place. This will save you time and energy because you won’t constantly be searching for things and you will be able to easily differentiate between things you need and things that are just plain ‘ol in your way, thus keeping your clutter to a minimum. And in the business world… the less clutter the better!
This leading us to …
Seriously, I personally take great pride in this one. Just ask my other half or my bestie … I truly live in a world filled with lists, electronic notes, and post-its! But seriously now, keeping track of all your projects, responsibilities, goals, and daily/weekly/monthly activities gives you more time to focus and create a useful daily routine. They also act as friendly reminders, especially when adopting new projects and goals.
FACT: Psychological benefits of using a checklist include … motivation, organization, creates order, sets priorities, consistency, creates the feeling of productivity and accountability, relieves stress, and creates a system that leads to accomplishment.
Another good mental tool that falls under this category is …
Automate everything you possibly can. For example, if you automate your bill payments you will no longer have to worry about whether you’ve made them on time or if you have enough money left in your business account to cover them. Use both systems to create more time for the things that truly matter in your business.
That being said, let me share some tried, tested, and true TIME MANAGEMENT tips:
I know I talk a lot about the importance of being organized but this is truthfully serious business! But it’s all about helping YOU keep things simple, develop routines, have a place for everything, and put everything in its place, purging routinely, and not getting bogged down by perfectionism.
So, instead of feeling like you’re always falling off the wagon, here are some of my team’s favourite habits when it comes to being highly organized …
THE TO-DO LIST:
When people who are highly organized make lists, it isn’t necessarily about crossing them off. It is, however, all about writing those ideas down on paper to get them out to clear their mind. For us, it’s all about keeping multiple lists (we’re talking business-related lists here, but these rules also apply to life).
One list for daily tasks -- with separation per client and self, one for a grand overview of the month -- I do this in a fun and colourful styled planner, and one for thoughts and creative ideas – Asana is a good place for this.
THE “5-MINUTE” RULE:
To be organized, you need to be proactive and abide by what Mel Robbins, world-renowned author, and speaker, likes to call the “5-minute rule”.
When a highly organized person thinks a task will take 5 minutes or less, they tend to complete it right away so that it doesn’t get added to the dreaded to-do list or gets pushed off to the point where it never gets done. Organized individuals tend to avoid putting the little things off, so they have more time to focus on the big things. This simple “5-minute rule” will make a huge difference in all aspects of your life.
THE SATISFACTION STRIKE:
Honestly, what is better than the feeling of satisfaction … that huge sigh of relief that comes from crossing something off your to-do list? This is one of my most favourite things! Grabbing that big black Sharpie and striking an item off that list. (And yes, with great force!) Try starting each day by prioritizing what you “must” get done and bumping the most difficult tasks to the top of your list. Doing this will make you have a clearer sense of what is important and in the long run will help you get more stuff done. And the reason I suggest “the bump” is that your energy is most likely the highest at the start of the day.
THE ORGANIZED CHAOS:
What do I mean by this title? It’s simple … everything needs to have a “home”. If items in your office are “homeless” they end up in stacks. Literally stacks everywhere. Perhaps even beyond the space of your office.
Now, I am not saying it is not okay to have stuff and lots of it, but to be more efficient and enjoy your space it is best to have everything (yes, absolutely everything) tucked away in a specific spot. For most people, that is too much to ask right off the hop. Maybe start with a basket or desk bin. Start placing wayward items inside. Not only will your clutter magnets (aka. “homeless” stacks) stay stuff-free but you will now have a better idea of the type of storage you should invest in.
The truth of the matter is, studies show that people who have organized spaces- and enjoy them, tend to be more attentive and accomplished during their work hours.
How you spend your day is how you spend your life! Which is why it is so especially important to carve out some daily routines. Organization requires work and habit. Some may even say practice. Studies show that it takes upward of 23 days to form a new habit. Highly organized people function with routines. They have certain times of each day for accomplishing tasks. So, find what works for you and MAKE IT STICK!
THE “RESET” BUTTON:
This habit is just as important as all the others I just shared with you. Allow yourself 15 minutes each day to reset, reorganize, purge, and put things back in their place.
For me, as an example, this means organizing my notes from the day, to prepare for the next, organizing piles of client folders with notes on each one (daily as well as monthly), tossing notes no longer needed, and lastly, emptying my recycling bin and decluttering my space.
Remember … “Organized people are not born, they’re built.”
Organization can sometimes be a tough subject for entrepreneurs to be vulnerable about because we all want to be able to take care of everything on our own – even though we may not always have the tools (or time) to do so. So, increasing organization means that productivity needs to be its sidekick! Meaning you will finally be able to put all your energy into what is most important -- growing your business. And of course, being able to find that happy place of work/life balance in the process.
And John Maxwell states it best …
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to success is found in your daily routine.”
Honestly, I would not be where I am today if it were not for my crazy organizational skills. Just last week actually, my guru friend (and honorary “untangler” here at VU) made me laugh so loudly – and yes! I was by myself – by saying “I basically assume you’ve got a little alien in your head who works even when your physical self isn’t. That’s clearly the only way you get this much done.”
But she’s right in a way … I work hard … I don’t preach …
I live by these “untangling” rules. And not just the ones I shared with you already.
Let me elaborate on this a bit more …
So, press “pause”, grab a coffee, and let’s get started on 3 SIMPLE easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy tips to break things down just a little further …
#1. CREATE ORGANIZATION WITH YOUR LISTS.
I know we already talked about list-making a few minutes ago but it’s so important I wanted to share a few more tidbits …
Doing this -- not only creating the lists but HOW you lay them out to work with -- will help you focus and be organized in your approach to getting things done.
I feel that doing paper to pen and virtually, helps keep me laser-focused.
And if this doesn’t sound crazy organized enough … I add in Asana. This way I have all my bases covered, ease of access all over my office (and home), and they all speak to one another. So, there are no excuses for missed deadlines, meetings, birthdays, personal appointments, virtual coffees, and of course tasks and projects.
#2. STAY ORGANIZED WITH A FOCUSED INBOX.
Now, of course, there are only a million and one ways to STAY ORGANIZED!!! So, I’m just going to touch on one that I know will be beneficial to YOU -- YOUR EMAIL.
And here’s the steps …
Then simply rinse and repeat this step for the rest of the week, month, year, 5 years, or whatever tickles your fancy. This is where I choose to use Asana, as you can organize based on client (or personal business needs) and add timelines in an easy and fashionable order -- with notes!
#3. CREATE A STRESS-FREE ENVIRONMENT.
If everything has a “home” you will not need to spend any extra time looking for whatever it is when you need it. So, the key here is to keep things organized and stick to them. And do not be afraid of sorting things too much. The more categories of things you come up with (whether labels, tabs on folders, buckets in drawers, dividers, notebooks, etc.), the easier it will be to find exactly what you need and when you need it.
A good example to imagine at its fullest potential is tax time. No more searching through endless piles, boxes and/or envelopes of paper. This is why I always stress how much everything needs a “home”.
Oh, and not to mention the health benefits of putting organization into its place. I bet most of you haven’t pondered on all the long-term effects of this -- well, maybe in the back of your mind but not forefront …
So, as you can see being organized can really save your life!
By adopting some of these habits you will be able to reduce your daily, weekly, and yearly stress levels, therefore, save yourself years of your life. Plus, it also keeps you sharp thus feeling more able to tackle all of life’s details with better organization!
“Being organized isn’t about getting rid of everything you own or trying to become a different person; it’s about living the way you want to live, but better.”
Granted, it may take a bit of effort -- or a lot depending on how “out of sorts” things have gotten -- but organizing your entrepreneurial life will allow you to use your time and efforts more efficiently. You will become the master of your time and money -- not the other way around. And not only that but the more thought out your schedule (and even budget) is, the less you will need to worry about it!
“Productivity – which includes getting organized -- is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.”
So, please oh’ please … utilize the information you just gained. Right NOW is the perfect opportunity to evaluate business systems and tools to figure out what works and what doesn’t, as well as what areas require more attention than others.
Do your homework.
Ask others for advice if you’re unsure or want a second opinion. (Maybe even third!)
By becoming a bit more “untangled” and clutter-free you’ll FINALLY be able to get clear on what you not only need to get done but WANT to accomplish.
All the while, paving a speedbump-free path for new strategies, newfound time, and business growth. Think of it like gardening … watering your plants, pulling the weeds, and watching it thrive as everything blooms.
So, share with us … HOW do you live a life of organization and productivity?