Have you ever heard of the British scientist, Phil Jones? Don’t be alarmed if you haven’t. Sadly, most people have no clue who Phil Jones is.
Charged with recording the world’s temperature, Phil Jones made a significant discovery. After monitoring the globe’s thermometer for 15 years, Jones claimed that there had been no global warming as many politicians and scientists had asserted. Despite having the data and the credibility to back up his claims, Jones failed to share this information with the world.
Why, after years of research, did Jones not share what he had discovered? In his own words Jones admitted that an overall lack of organization and poor record keeping and office-tidying skills had contributed to his reluctance to share data with critics. It was an ordeal he regretted and that he said, “would haunt him for a long, long time.”
While most of us aren’t in the business of global warming record keeping, Jones’ story is one that we, as business women, can relate to. Without proper organizing skills in our workplace and lives, we too, can find ourselves on the losing end, full of regret.
So how can we implement more order into our lives so that the skills, talents and callings we have to impact and change the world can be best accomplished? I want to share with you 4 organizing essentials for busy business women that I hope will take your business and your life to the next level.
“For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.” – 1 Corinthians 14:33
4 Organizing Essentials
As a wife, mother, entrepreneur, speaker, writer and teacher, I know what it’s like to juggle many hats and many plates. Just because I’m a professional organizer doesn’t mean I’m perfect. However, I have learned the 4 most critical areas that I need to have organized – my to-do lists, my ability to delegate, my work space and my home – so that I can be the best at whichever hat I’m wearing.
Let’s take a look at each of these areas and see how we can maximize them for greater success.
Whether you’re a fan of them or not, to-do lists take the guesswork out of what needs to be done each day, increase your focus, and help stave off procrastination. Many people don’t like to-do lists because they believe they are too stifling and restrictive. However, if you look at some of the most successful business people in the world, they make a to-do list each and every day.
The difference between their lists and ours is that they’ve learned the keys to successful list making:
• Don’t make lengthy to-do lists.
Each day limit your list to 3-5 action items. This way your list doesn’t get too overwhelming, causing you to shut down and not get anything accomplished. Research shows that only 41% of the items on our to-do lists are actually ever completed. But if you limit your activities to smaller numbers, you’re more like to reach 100% completion!
• Prioritize your list.
Work on the most important tasks first and everything else will fall into place. Too often we do the unimportant tasks first (so we feel like we’re getting things done) and end up frustrated at the end of the day because we didn’t accomplish what really needed to be done. Remember first things first!
• Keep your to-do list with your calendar.
Think of your to-do list and your calendar like peanut butter and jelly; they just go together! By having your to-do list with your calendar you can see what’s on your schedule and realistically determine what you can and can’t add to your list.
As business women and entrepreneurs it is important that we don’t try to do everything on our own, but rather delegate some of our responsibilities.
Pastor and speaker, Andy Stanley, says, “Only do what only you can do.” You are the face of your business and no one else can do what you can. You need to be focusing on your core expertise and let others help and support you in other tasks.
The problem we have with delegation is that we are going about it the wrong way. Here are few tips to make sure you are delegating properly:
• Find and surround yourself with trustworthy and dependable people.
When you find capable people, you don’t need to micromanage them. You can have confidence in their abilities and let them do what they’re good at so you can focus on what you’re good at. The problem is we don’t necessarily look for these qualities when we’re delegating, and when it doesn’t work out the way we hoped, we throw delegation out the window.
• Teach and show what you want done.
Most of the time we just tell others what we want done. When they come back to us with a completed project that was nothing like what we were wanting, we get frustrated. And we give up on delegating. Take the time to teach and show people how you want things done and you’ll find your delegation much more successful!
• Know which tasks to delegate.
Sometimes it can be unnerving to know what exactly to let others help you with. Make a list of those tasks that you absolutely despise doing, that you aren’t good or skilled at, and that don’t require your expertise. Then find and ask people who love doing those things, or can do them faster and better than you, to help you. It becomes a win-win for you both!
“Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, replied, “What you are doing is not good. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” Exodus 18:17,18
While a cluttered desk may seem like a mark of productivity, it is actually the opposite! Researchers at Princeton University discovered that when you’re environment is cluttered, the “chaos restricts your ability to focus. The clutter also limits your brain’s ability to process information.”
Whether you have a desk in an actual building or in your home, here are a few organizational tips to make your workspace organized and functional:
• Less is more when it comes to your desk.
Your desk needs to have only the necessary items you need to work and function. The problem is most people keep everything – all their files, books, projects, supplies and paperwork – on their desks so they don’t have to get up and stop what they’re doing. This can cause overwhelm and restrict workflow. Minimize the amount of stuff on your desk to allow you to accomplish more.
• Think of things in your office as Friends, Acquaintances, or Strangers.
Friends are those you enjoy being with and want to have around on a daily basis. In your office world, friend items are those you want to have on or very near your desk such as your computer/printer, current work projects, and necessary supplies.
Acquaintances are those items that you need in your workspace, but you don’t have to have with you all the time. This might include extra books, reference paperwork or surplus supplies that you can store elsewhere in your office.
Strangers are those items you rarely use, such as tax documents or old planners. Relocate these things outside of your workspace to make more room for your friend or acquaintance items.
• Spend the last 15 mins of your office time each day cleaning up, putting away, and planning for the next day.
Not only will this help you put an “official” end to your workday, it allows you to prepare for the day ahead. This way, when you come back to your workspace the next morning you are starting with a clean slate to be productive and proactive, rather than reactive and overwhelmed.
Many people see work organization and home organization as two separate entities, but I want to encourage you to think differently. An organized home affects how you work and how successful you are at work.
“The world is not to be put in order, the world is Order Incarnate. It is for us to put ourselves in unison with this order.” – Henry Miller
Here are 3 areas of your home that are crucial to your business well being:
• Keep your clothes closet and bathroom organized.
These 2 spots are where you start your day and how you start your day can affect your ability to be successful at work. When you can’t find a certain pair of shoes or pants, or your bathroom counters are so cluttered you have trouble getting ready, you are frustrated and overwhelmed before you even step out the door! Take a good look at these 2 spaces and spend some time organizing them so you can start each workday on the right foot!
• Create a launch pad.
A launch pad is nothing more than a designated area in your home where you put your keys, phone, purse, etc. so that when you are ready to leave the house each day, you are not wasting time looking for them. On average we waste 6 minutes each morning looking for keys! By having a launch pad you can avoid the frustration that those types of searches can bring.
• Spend 15-30 minutes preparing for the next day.
Take a few minutes each evening to look at your calendar, lay out your clothes, and make sure you have all the papers, files, etc. that you need. By doing so you can alleviate the stress that remembering and gathering these things in the busyness of the morning can bring. Plus spending time the night before in preparation can give you a few more minutes to enjoy your coffee, spend time in prayer, or get out the door a few minutes early!
When it comes to your work, your calling, or your impact, don’t let overwhelm and disorganization keep you from living your best life! Look for ways to implement these organizing essentials into your work life so that you can accomplish all that God has for you and your business.
Watch this interview with Liana George to learn more about her philosophy of organization.
Liana George is a Professional Organizer and the owner of By George Organizing Solutions. She works one on one with clients to help bring order, peace and balance to their homes and lives. Liana is also a writer, teacher and speaker on a variety of organizing topics.
She has been married to her husband, Clint, for almost 25 years and together they have 2 wonderful daughters, Kayley and Abbey. When Liana isn’t organizing something, you can find her reading a book, watching or playing tennis, or planning her next diving adventure.
You can connect with Liana, read her blog, or learn more about class offerings on her website at www.bygeorgeorganizing.com