Being an effective business leader is no easy task. It requires all manner of personal maturity, self-sacrifice, and sleepless nights. But if there’s one thing that an effective leader needs, it’s organization.
Maybe my nature as a naturally highly organized individual makes me biased, but I don’t believe that it’s possible to run a business efficiently or effectively as a leader without organization. Whether it’s about being on time for a mentorship call or meeting that midnight deadline, an organization can help you significantly reduce your stress level, increase your business productivity, and maximize your leadership potential.
But the organization doesn’t just happen. It requires active pursuit. You need to make a concerted effort to become more and more organized, especially if you are not a naturally organized person or you are in a position in life that makes organization nearly impossible. Shout out to all the moms out there trying to run their businesses and run their households at the same time!
So to make things a bit easier for you, here are the top three things that I use to remain organized.
Number 1: My Day Planner
This thing is my life. Or rather, it is a partial record of my life. But that doesn’t make it any less important.
My day planner has saved me multiple, multiple times over. Not only does it allow me to keep a record of all my usernames and passwords for the myriad of e-mail accounts that I have floating out in cyberspace, but it enables me to organize my time efficiently. It helps me know which times I have available when I need to book an appointment or schedule a mentorship call, and it enables me to see a visual representation of what I have to accomplish each day.
Organization Tip: After you buy your day planner—(don’t even consider not buying one. You. Need. This.)—keep it with you when you are responding to e-mails, setting up mentorship calls, and booking appointments, whether for your business or for your personal life. Once you make a time commitment, write it down. I cannot stress that point enough. It is so easy to forget an appointment or to double book yourself. By writing things down in your day planner immediately after you make that time commitment, you will be able to ensure that a) you didn’t accidentally book and if you did, you are aware of it and can reschedule immediately, and b) you don’t forget that you were meant to be meeting a potential business builder and only remember four and a half hours after the fact.
So just remember:
Buy a day planner.
Keep it with you at all times.
Write everything down immediately.
Check it every morning before you start your day.
If you follow these four simple steps, you will save yourself from having those horrible moments of gut-wrenching realization and the inevitable apology—either to someone in your business or someone in your family—for forgetting that appointment, dance recital, mentorship call, or graduation ceremony.
Number 2: My Alarm
This should probably say “My Phone” instead of “My Alarm”, but I don’t want to advocate the increased use of cellphones, considering how distracting they can be. In saying that, I recognize that there are abilities that phones have that are incredibly useful. One of my favourites would half to be setting alarms/reminders.
We’ve all been there: waking up, only to realize that the appointment or class or meeting that you were supposed to be at has already started or—even worse—already finished. There’s something uniquely unpleasant about situations like these because, not only do you have that sinking feeling of realizing that you missed something of infinite importance, but you also have the dread of having the show up to work the next day or talk to that professor or send an e-mail to that customer and apologize until the cows come home.
After having this happen to me more times than I can count, I realized that there’s got to be a more effective way of reminding myself about important events, meetings, and appointments. While having a day planner is absolutely important, it’s only useful if you remember to look at it in the morning. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has those mornings where the day either starts before you can even open your eyes or your brain is just so filled with fog that you can’t even remember where the light switch is in your bedroom.
So on those days, it is vitally important to have an alarm or some sort of notification system that reminds you of these important times. For me, it is Siri, my mostly reliable e-assistant. For you, it could be your computer or even a tangible alarm clock that sits by your bed. Whatever system it is, find one that works for you and use it. It will save you so many awkwardly apologetic e-mails and unpleasant rescheduling requests.
Number 3: My Whiteboard
In many ways, I am a visual learner. I’m not good at analyzing spaces in my mind like my husband is. I need a tangible representation. I need to see things for myself. This is probably why I like using images and visual aids in my presentations. Because of this, I invested in purchasing a whiteboard, which has helped me immensely.
Because my business is all about placing individuals in the right spot and analyzing the volume on each leg of my organization, I use my whiteboard to map out my team and figure out which individuals need more support for a given month. It also helps me remember who leads who and who answers to who. Overall, it just allows me to keep everything organized and running smoothly.
Maybe you aren’t a visual learner. Maybe your business doesn’t require you to map anything out or strategize nearly as much as mine does. But investing in a whiteboard or something of that nature is still definitely worth your while. Because, whether it’s analyzing the current state of your business or planning out the future growth you want to see or setting up a vision board to help remind you of your end goals, a whiteboard can help you organize your thoughts and essentially convert your mind maps into visual graphs.
And that is how you will ensure that your business moves from being just another good idea to being a tangible reality.
So there you have it: my top three recommendations when it comes to tools that will help you organize your business! I hope that these tools are as effective and beneficial for you as they have been for me.
Now excuse me—Siri has just reminded me that I need to eat something.
Stay calm and oil on, everyone!
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