Can you believe it’s already February? Where did the January go? Many business owners begin with a very clear purpose and a strong set of core values, but they quickly get distracted by all the tasks that need to be completed every day. It’s easy to do because the list always looks overwhelming and everyone needs your time, so you end up chasing your tail.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs always need to be ready and alert to that next opportunity, but getting organized can be hard when there are so many things going on. Staying organized? It’s even harder.

  • The average executive in America wastes 6 weeks (weeks!) every year searching for missing information. This translates into 1 hour lost every day. (Source: Wall Street Journal)

  • About 25% of workers save things in piles instead of in files. (Source: Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch)

  • White collar workers waste an average of 40% of every workday – not because they’re not smart, but because they were never taught organizing skills. (Source: Accountemps)

While some people are born with an ability to be organized, the rest of us have to learn how to do to it and then learn how to stay on top of it. Organized people manage their time more effectively, get more done, and instead of looking like the hassled rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, they are on time and prepared. When asked what qualities executives consider the most important to have, the top response by far was ‘organizational skills’.

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So, how do you get and stay organized as a small business owner? Here are some tips that will help.

1. Get a Calendar (any kind) and Always Use It

Your calendar is your choice – it can be the old-fashioned paper format or the latest in apps on your fancy smartphone. The key is to have it – always – and to keep it updated. When you’re at lunch with a business partner and want to schedule the next meeting, there is no need for follow-up emails or reminders, you pull it out, get it scheduled and be done with it.

 

2. Set Tasks Every Day – and Prioritize Them!

Start your day looking over the tasks you have planned and set priorities for each. If something has to move to tomorrow, it’s the lowest priority task. If you have a hard time getting this done after walking in the door to your office, do it in the car before. Set this as a regular appointment for yourself every day – just 15 minutes will do.

3. Close the Day with a List for Tomorrow

At the close of every day, take another 15 minutes to review your email box, delegate tasks to others, forward information to keep your co-workers moving forward, and file things. Do a review of what you got done and what didn’t get done so you have a fresh list to start out the next morning.

4. Clean Up Your Workspace

Organizational experts say that it’s hard to get organized and stay on top of your most important tasks when the space in which you are working is messy. Take the time when you start your organizational journey to get things in order. If you have to come into the office on the weekend – to get the quiet time you need, do it. If you need to hire an organizational coach, do it. You owe it to yourself, to your employees, and to your vision for your business to always be ready for the next opportunity and you can’t do that if you can’t find things.

About the author

Matt Faustman

Matt Faustman

Matt is the co-founder and CEO at UpCounsel. Matt believes in the power of online platforms to change antiquated ways of life and founded UpCounsel to make legal services efficiently accessible. He is responsible for our overall vision and growth of the UpCounsel platform. Before founding UpCounsel, Matt practiced as a startup and business attorney.

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