Running a small business can sometimes feel like paddling furiously upstream with a waterfall at your back. It’s tricky enough just getting through a week sometimes and the sheer range of tasks you’re faced with on a daily basis can be overwhelming.
In this type of context, the need for personal organisation is paramount but clearing the decks in order to concentrate and improve your processes can be a challenge. Fail to sharpen your organisational toolset over time, however, and you risk endlessly flailing around in a never-ending cycle of fire-fighting and reactive panic, rather than ever getting ahead on your overall to-do list.
In this article, we’ll cover four key tips for mastering your personal organisation as a small business owner and reclaiming control of your time.
- Organise your workspace
Let’s not sugarcoat it, the amount of inner resistance that can arise when it comes to taking this simple step is huge. Rather than take the extra 10 to 15 minutes per day that it would require to keep your immediate surroundings in some sort of order, it’s much easier to simply pile immediately relevant items within reach and power on with your day – in the short term.
Over time, however, a disorganised workspace will gradually chip away at your overall sense of being in control, cripple any attempts at organisation, and cost you an enormous amount of time. Commit to the simple habit of ending each day with a clean workspace and you’ll find your overall sense of control skyrocketing as you start organically organising items in your surroundings.
- Bookend your week with planning and review sessions
Reactive firefighting is the bane of nearly every small business owner’s life. If you’re constantly playing whack-a-mole against a seemingly endless series of random opponents, it’s incredibly hard to introduce any type of meaningful organisation structure into your business.
Start taking control of the contours of your working week by scheduling one hour of planning at the very beginning of every week and one hour of recap at the end. If this requires adding two hours to your existing work week to fit it in, just do it – the rewards in terms of having an overall picture of what’s actually going on in your world will more than justify it.
When planning your week, identify the three major tasks you want to accomplish in the next five days. When reviewing your week, check your progress on those tasks and calmly write down any improvements in overall process that you’ve thought of during the week. These two steps alone will fundamentally change your level of organisational powers over time.
- Check email at scheduled times
Handled incorrectly, your email inbox is little more than an impossible to predict list of other people’s demands. Quit the habit of constantly checking for new mail and limit yourself to properly processing email a set amount of times per day at scheduled times. Your ability to organise the rest of your time effectively will increase substantially as a result.
- Draw hard lines between business and personal life
This last point is a particularly hard one for small business owners to take on board for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, start trying to enforce hard boundaries between your business and personal life.
By not allowing your work tasks to bleed over into personal time, you force yourself to create organizational structures that maximise your effectiveness and clear up more time to adequately decompress from the stress of the working week.
Getting your personal organizational habits in check is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a small business owner, but also one of the most critical to address as soon as possible. Every small improvement you make will pay off multiple times down the line so consider it an extremely sensible investment in your future. Start taking measures to up your game by following our four simple steps and you’ll be amazed at the progress that can be made in just a few short weeks!