Falling behind or feeling forgetful? Alison Newcombe provides her handy tips for getting your work in order.
As a Virtual Assistant, being organised is what I do best. Working across multiple businesses on a huge range of projects, you need to get your ducks in a row or risk falling foul of deadlines left, right and centre.
Being disorganised is a stressful place to be, always feeling like you’re behind or forgetting something. But with a little planning and discipline, anyone can be organised. Follow my tips below to bring order to your business and peace to your mind.
- Setting goals
It can be difficult to know where to start, so begin by going back to basics to consider what you want to achieve with your business.
Take a moment to sit down with your favourite drink, a pen and paper and create a simple list, a mind map or even a vision board – choose the option that resonates best with you to document your plans.
Focus on what you want the end result to be and then break it down to work out how you’ll get there. Breaking down your goals into smaller tasks makes it feel more manageable to achieve and including mini milestones helps you to track your progress. When you get to the end point you’ll be able to reflect on all that you accomplished to get there.
2. Create a timeline
Once you know what you want to achieve, set deadlines to plan timeframes for your goals. Whether they’re 2, 3 or 5-year targets, having a deadline makes you more accountable, and you’ll find you’re more likely to achieve what you want to.
Deadlines aren’t just for the big things. Use them every day for your smaller tasks too. For example:
- Planning ahead to buy presents a week before that special day.
- Giving yourself a month to read that book you keep meaning to read (depending on the size, of course)
- Trying that new workout or class – reward yourself for doing it in a set period of time.
An organised private life leaves more room for your big business plans.
3. Diary management
Diarising (i.e. plan your day with your diary) really helps clear your mind and enables you to get things done.
*Please note that this example is purely for illustration purposes and not a true reflection of a weekly or daily routine.
Using a diary to plan your day can ease the pressure of being overwhelmed by a to-do list. I schedule in all the tasks I need to do in the day, giving them allocated time slots that are relevant to their deadlines. Always remember to allow yourself some buffers to catch up, because life does happen and you don’t want to add stress by over-running.
You’ll see that in the example above that I’ve used colour coding to distinguish between personal and business tasks, this allows you see at a glance what is going on and what you need to do. It also allows you to plan your day and make sure things aren’t forgotten.
Although I’ve used an electronic diary as the example you can do this exactly the same with a paper diary. It’s up to you what to use, so just pick the option that works for you.
Setting reminders in a place that you regularly access will help ensure that you don’t drop the ball on anything that’s coming up, such as collecting or producing an order. It will also free up vital space in your mind to be present and focus on the tasks at hand.
Personally, I set reminders for everything and I use my diary so that I get pop up notifications, as I constantly look at it.
Schedule the notifications to arrive early enough before the actual event that you can take any necessary action. For example, setting a reminder to renew car insurance two weeks before it’s due, so that you can schedule time to search and compare deals to get the best price.
Lastly, and I know this can be tough, but delegate where possible! Whether it’s getting your children to do some of household chores or working a schedule with your partner to alternate the school run and cooking dinner, get everyone involved where you can. You may also want to professionally outsource and get a cleaner or additional business support. There are a lot of options out there, so consider what could free up the most resource for you to focus on what matters.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, getting organised will help bring calm to the chaos. Don’t forget: it’s ok to take a step back, or to reach out for help.