Organization. It’s the one thing so many of us let go when times get busy. From unkempt desks to computers cluttered with files from projects no one remembers anymore, it’s no wonder that entrepreneurs are forever stereotyped as flying by the seat of their pants. Yet, in a world where technology is taking on more and more responsibility, it’s becoming easier to hand off time management and organization to programs designed to make sure you don’t misplace yet another crucial bit of information.
The Clutter Myth
Before we get going, it’s important to realize that desk clutter isn’t inherently a bad thing. After all, most of us maintain an organized mess only our brains are capable of sifting through properly. For further proof, just look at Einstein’s desk the day he died. That man was far from a failed entrepreneur.
In the same vein, you do have to have some sort of rhyme and reason to your clutter. Maybe all “to-do” items pile up on the left side while all of the “to file” projects sit on the right. This at least gives you a general map of where to find things. Ideally, though, you want a system that reduces the time it takes for you to find documents. Time is money and if you’re wasting too much time searching for a contract, you lose money.
As far as email is concerned, organizing your inbox is not too big of a deal as modern search functions do a great job of finding things for you. So long as you remember who sent you the email, its subject, the day it was sent or even a sliver of the body, you will be able to find it. Your responsibility, however, is to make sure you clean it up when it starts to run slowly.
Time is Money
Once you start treating your time like you would treat your dollars, you begin to see your worth in terms of the current economic situation. It also makes it easier for people to put their foot down against things that will end up not benefitting them in any capacity.
Your first step in this mission, should you choose to accept it, is to cut out all the fat. Useless meetings, chats at the watercooler and browsing mind-numbing websites severely detract from what you are capable of accomplishing throughout the course of one day. And before you ask, yes, it is important to take breaks from daily stress. This gives your brain time to recharge for the next event. However, this recharge time can be turned into something useful, such as watching YouTube videos about history or reading up on the latest scientific advancements.
Only through practicing this can you teach yourself the temperament necessary to truly succeed as your own boss.
Technology to the Rescue
Once you finally have organization and time management down, you can push them further with technology. Coded by those seeking to make everything run smoother and more efficiently than any human could ever hope to match, specialized software gives the entrepreneur a leading edge.
Here are three of my favorite mainstays to organization and effectiveness.
The question to ask is: Is it necessary?
Why is it on your schedule? Does it move you closer to your goal? Can it be eliminated, simplified, or combined with something else?
While it may seem like a regular planner, this handy notebook takes scheduling a step further by having you enter your goals into the space at the start. It’s a great psychological trick to help keep you focused on your ultimate goal, making it easier to spot and avoid potential deterrents along the way. The end of each month has also been fitted with reflection pages to fill out for you to continually reassess where you are and how that relates to your plans.
It used to be that business cards where stored in a Rolodex. Then they had to be hand entered into a database. This was followed by buggy scanning software. Now, the technology has finally progressed enough to make card scanning accurate, organized and easy on your phone. An app optimized to work on any device with a camera, the business cards are stored on a cloud database where you can add notes and set reminders.
Calendly is a relatively revolutionary scheduling device that has shared the responsibility of scheduling with others. Once you’ve denoted your availability, you share your personal Calendly link with your contacts. They then pick an available time and you now have a scheduled appointment sans 10 emails trying to agree on a time and date.
Please be sure to share your favorite tools in the comment section.