"Mostly I make lists for projects. This can be daunting. Breaking something big into its constituent parts will help you organize your thoughts, but it can also force you to confront the depth of your ignorance and the hugeness of the task. That's OK. The project may be the lion, but the list is your whip."
--- Adam Savage
We all say it all the time: "I must get better organized!" It's not that we are not truthful about our situation. We all could be more organized with our tasks that must be completed every day. If you're like me, you try various calendars, both online and in print, and different tricks to try to stay ahead of all that needs to be accomplished. Some of them work-if we use them, but that is the key. Like all the other tools we use in our business, they only work if we use them properly.
Getting better organized boils down to being focused. Yeah, that's easily said, but it isn't all that easy. Focusing on a project requires enormous mental energy and strength and takes a lot of practice. Some of the most successful businesspeople I know have come close to mastering the art of focusing, but I don't know anyone who has perfected it.
"I'm definitely a messy person... I know where everything is but I just can't organize. I don't make lists and find scripts on the laundry machine, and under my bed, or in the bathroom, kitchen. It's bad, I really need to take control."
--- Katie Holmes
Here are four steps to remember that can help you become better organized. First, understand that it is important to focus on one thing, and one thing only. Multitasking is so 1990s and it doesn't work. If anyone tells you they are a good multitasker, believe them. They can work on a lot of tasks at the same time, but I can assure you that they do not complete them all successfully.
Write this down somewhere and tape it to your desk: Focus stands for Follow One Course Until Success. Memorize it and follow it daily.
"Deadlines aren't bad. They help you organize your time. They help you set priorities. They make you get going when you might not feel like it."
--- Harvey Mackay
Next, set realistic daily goals on your calendar. This is not a to-do list, but things you want to get accomplished that day. Then, use the Focus formula and complete each one in order of importance-not a few at the same time. Remember, that doesn't work!
"Online one day, you log in, and you realize, 'This is not me.' Everything you're posting, you're doing it in the context of everything you've posted before. Let's delete everything, save the stuff that's important, and then you only have to organize the one per cent that's worth keeping."
--- Evan Spiegel
Thirdly, set aside the last 20 minutes of your day to tie up loose ends. Use this time to respond to emails, voicemail, delegate tasks to team members for the next day, and file things away.
"To get important work done, most leaders organize people into teams. They believe that when people collaborate toward a common goal, great things can happen. Yet in reality, the whole is often much less than the sum of the parts."
--- Adam Grant
Finally, empower your team members to use the same formula for getting organized. Teach them how to focus and how to use their time wisely. When every individual is focused on being better organized and more efficient, then the entire business becomes more productive.