Feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of your messy workspace? You’re not alone. One of the biggest challenges in the life of the chaotic small business owner is personal organization. It’s funny how small business owners and entrepreneurs always manage to find something more important than getting organized. With hectic schedules there’s barely any time to slow down and face that dilemma. But letting that clutter take over can make life really chaotic, really fast. One little known fact about chaos: it’s contagious. It may feel like just one little unopened email here, or one piece of out-of-place paper there, but—before you know it—your entire workspace is infected!
I’m going to share with you five tips on how entrepreneurs can get and stay more organized. Or keep pretending there isn’t actually a desk under all that clutter…
Tip #1 is to make sure you have one Physical Inbox. What do you do with that one inbox? That is the place that everything that is unresolved – everything that is out of place – goes. If it’s out of place, put it in the box. In the beginning you might need a very big box. This tip will set you up very nicely for the last two tips.
Tip #2 is to have a Mobile Inbox. You’re going to be away from the office from time to time. People are going to hand you cards, papers, brochures, etc. and you need to have one place where all those things can be collected while you’re on the move. When you get back to the office dump everything from the Mobile Inbox into the Physical Inbox.
Tip #3 is to Create Homes. I adopted this phrase for my business clients: “Everything has a home and no visitors allowed.” A home is something that has walls around it – that creates a natural barrier between the things that are supposed to be inside of it and anything else. If you have clearly defined homes, when it comes time to put things away, you put it in a space that isn’t shared with all sorts of weird things. You know exactly where things belong. If you need to, you can even use a label for those homes. Get in the mindset that everything has a home—whether that home is a filing cabinet or a garbage can, get it there fast!
Tip #4 is Processing. This is a scheduled time every single week that is set aside to address your chaotic clutter. In this time, you go through all of your Physical Inbox, all your email, all your unorganized “stuff” and process it. Bring it to zero. How much time should you spend processing? I recommend five hours per week. And during those five hours, you’re going to take each item out of the inbox and decide:
- What am I going to do with it?
- When am I going to do it?
- Where is its home?
Tip #5 is Processing. This tip is so important that I’m emphasizing it twice! If you have that regular schedule and you stick to that regular schedule, you’re going to be able to stay on top of everything. But, what most entrepreneurs do is they make that processing decision constantly throughout the day. They’re doing a little bit here and a little bit there – it’s all over the place – which can chop up your day. Instead, have a regular set time. Process, process, process! Pronto!
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Dave Crenshaw works 30 hours per week or less, plays video games, and has plenty of time to spend with his wife and three children. He is also the master of helping business owners triumph over chaos. He has appeared in Time magazine, FastCompany, USA Today, and the BBC News. His first book, The Myth of Multitasking: How ‘Doing It All’ Gets Nothing Done, has been published in six languages and is a time management bestseller. As an author, speaker, and business coach, Dave has transformed thousands of businesses worldwide. To get free access to Dave’s online Time Management Fundamentals course on Lynda.com, please visit:http://davecrenshaw.com/freetime