Organization. Not my strong suit.
I’ve never really been very organized, and it’s something I actively work on in order to be successful in business (and stay on top of my personal life too!)
So, I’ve tried all sorts of apps and planning tools, schedulers – you name it! But, I always found myself giving up after a couple weeks of using one thing. Nothing really stuck.
When Patrick and I founded Eleven Creative Services last year, I knew this was THE time to get organized once and for all. After all, we manage multiple clients, events, and promotions and at the end of the day we are the ones responsible for delivering results for our clients. Without organization, things fall through the cracks, which can mean lost revenue. We simply can’t afford to NOT be organized.
Plus, I still run this blog and need to manage my own editorial and marketing calendar, grow the business, and attend local events. Then there are meetings and important social events to manage, plus I’d like to fit in a workout most days…is your head spinning yet?
Here’s how I finally got organized.
Once I started committing to organization, everything got so much easier (go figure). Yes, my closet is still a disaster, but I promise I know where everything is in there 😉 Baby steps! So, here are my top organization tips that have proven to work for me and I’m sure they will help other entrepreneurs and small business owners out there. I promise, once you start adopting these, your business will run so much smoother and you’ll be surprised how much stress it takes out of your day to day life!
Pick one type of planner and stick to it.
I have tried every planner imaginable and always found a reason to stop using it. The calendar apps never seem to sync for me, and my fingers get too tired using note taking apps on my phone. I decided to keep it old school and tried the Erin Condren LifePlanner. This planner has got to be an organization nerd’s dream. It has any possible tool you could imagine.
But what I like most about it is that I was able to customize it. I put our business motto on the front, picked a cool rose gold coil, chose my cover image, and then got a few accessories to clip into the inside. I like that it doesn’t have a bunch of random things that I’ll never use, like a budget calculator or meal planner. I’ll literally never use that. (Although, you can add those on if you want them!)
It also has a notebook in the back so that already eliminates one more thing I usually carry around (I’m pretty sure I own 17 half-full notebooks…)
Actually write stuff in your planner.
Ok, but what do you write? Everything. Literally everything. I take 15 minutes each morning to look through my schedule and see if there is anything in my email, text, or on Facebook I want to add. At the end of the day, I look ahead to the rest of the week to see what I need to prepare. I write deadlines, personal events, upcoming blog posts, client meetings, anything I can think of. Then, I use different colors for each different thing so I can easily find what I need when I’m scanning my schedule for the week. Usually, I do one color for personal, one for Eleven Creative Services, one for My Boring Closet, and one for reminders.
I use the snap-in to-do list to keep track of random things that need to be accomplished and sometimes I’ll write my grocery list here too so I can have it handy when I’m ordering my groceries online (yes, I do this and it’s life changing).
Respond to emails right away.
This has been the hardest one for me to adopt. It’s so easy to read an email and forget about it. But, those emails pile up and people tend to get annoyed when you don’t respond (sorry, everyone!) So, instead of checking email constantly throughout the day, I set specific times throughout the day when I check it. Then, I respond to all emails immediately. Not only does this keep your inbox clean, but it’s also more efficient. This is also a great way to utilize block scheduling. I’ve also seen other business owners write their “office hours” in their email signature so people know that they can expect a reply only within that time frame.
To avoid checking your emails outside of your email-checking window, don’t even have your inboxes open on your computer, and turn off notifications on your phone. Right now, I check email three times a day, and it has made the whole process so much more efficient. Play around with different times, find what works for you, then stick to it.
Track expenses monthly.
If you don’t have a business, this may not be as important for you, but after this last tax season I am SO done with my old attitude of “uhhh idk let’s just see how things turn out at the end of the year.”
Now, I pick one day a month to go through all of my receipts and bank statements and track everything in a spreadsheet. And because I now write down all of my meetings and appointments, it makes it so much easier to cross reference and make sure I’m tracking expenses and mileage accurately.
You’ll find that if you start doing this monthly, it gets so much easier. Even if you don’t have a business, this is a really great way to look at where you’re spending money, and if you have a goal for savings in mind, you can easily check in on that and see where you might be able to adjust your budget.
Have a dedicated workspace.
This is a tip I heard a lot before I started a business, and I always thought it was kind of silly. But, I can tell you from experience this makes a huge difference in the way you work. Yes, I sometimes do work in my bed, but these days that is very rare. I have a desk, file cabinet, my computer, camera, and anything else I need for business all in one place.
When I sit down, I’m in work mode. When I’m in my room, I’m in relaxation mode. Keeping them separate has actually made me more focused in my work. I know that when I’m in front of my computer it’s time to get stuff done and I can goof off on Facebook later. Plus, keeping all my work stuff in one place makes it less likely that I will misplace something important.
What are your tips?
I’m always looking for more organization tips, and I’d love to hear what yours are! Be sure to share in the comments.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Erin Condren. The opinions and text are all mine.