Organize Your Day: 5 Simple Tips
Do you get to the end of the day and feel disappointed that you didn't accomplish everything that you wanted to? We all have those days, especially if you’re running your own small business. We over-schedule ourselves and expect to get everything done. As an owner of a busy bookkeeping practice, I rely on lists and my calendar to keep up with clients, appointments, and meetings.
Years ago, as a corporate and small business tax accountant, I started implementing the following actions, and over time they became habits that have served me well. Below are simple tips you can use to have an organized, productive, and less stressful day:
1. Get up 30 minutes earlier than the other people in your house. Use this quiet time to make a list of what you need to accomplish for the day, and then prioritize what's on the list. Having focus creates results. Mornings are also a good time to reply to non-urgent emails that you didn't get to the day before. Emails steal precious time during the day, so knock these out early. You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish in 30 minutes of focused time.
2. If you're a night owl, see the suggestions above, only do them at night before bed. Really think about what you want or need to accomplish the next day and write it down! Be careful and don't put too many items on the list, otherwise you’ll get discouraged when you can’t complete everything. Don’t set yourself up for failure--make the list reasonable for you.
3. Have a regular place for things you'll need take with you to get out the door on time. Don’t underestimate the value of knowing where your stuff is. Having to do a mad search for keys, cell phone, and your other shoe makes you late, increases your stress level, and puts you in a cranky mood. This can be avoided with a bit of organization.
4. Put lunch together the night before. Also know what you're going to eat for breakfast the next day and make sure you have what you need. Again, you don't want to be scrambling around in the morning. And you don't want to have to skip the most important meal of the day.
5. Maintain focus on one thing at a time. "People who regularly juggle several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memories, or switch from one task to another as well as those who prefer to focus on one thing at a time. Heavy media multitaskers are paying a big price." This was from a study done almost ten years ago! We’ve only gotten worse with our attention as opportunities for distraction have increased. (Stanford Report, 8/24/2009, Study by Clifford Nass, Eyal Ophir & Anthony Wagner)
In order to have a less stressful day, you don’t have to totally transform everything about your life or yourself. Try at least two of these tips today and notice how making a few small improvements powerfully impacts your days and weeks ahead.