Ever heard the expression ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’? The fact is that without some really great organisational systems, it’s easy to start feeling panicked about everything you need to do – and consequently doing very little!
Virtual administrator Clare Readman has made a career out of being organised. And now she kindly shares her six top tips on how to be more organised – and productive – whether you’re a busy working mum, freelancer juggling a number of clients or run your own home business.
Six ways to be more organised
I guess some of us are born organisers and others are not. I have always been an organised, neat and tidy person – for example, no matter how long we had been given to complete our school homework, I would always do it as soon as it was assigned. That way, I felt, it would not pile up until I was unable to cope with the volume.
If, like lots of people, though you find planning and organising difficult, I’ve put together a few tips to help you with the day-to-day running of a business or a busy home.
1) Write to do lists
I swear by to do lists. As tasks, jobs or thoughts come to mind just stick them on a list. This has two advantages – the first is that you won’t forget it, and the second is that lovely satisfying (and motivating) feeling as you cross each item off the list when it’s completed.
Keep your to-do list updated regularly – for example, spend Friday afternoon creating an updated list with all the things you need to do the following week.
2) Plan ahead
Try get into the habit of looking at your diary two weeks ahead, and add to your list anything that you need to prepare for, such as meetings, school events or birthdays.
This gives you plenty of time to prepare notes or PowerPoint presentations, buy a new outfit to impress a new client, make your child’s costume, or buy a card or plan a surprise. Keep your calendar updated and visible to help with this task.
3) Organise your space
Organise your work or living space so that everything you use regularly is close to hand, and the things you use less often are tidied away for when you need them. Not only does this keep your working or living space clearer, but you’ll know exactly where things are when you need them, saving time and frustration!
Create a filing system to organise important papers, using space-saving tools such as small metal A4 files or expanding manila files and A4 ring binders. Also, don’t keep information or paperwork that you no longer need. Keep a shredder or bin handy and go through your post and paperwork once a week.
Prioritise your to do list into order of importance (I often re-write mine into the order of importance, but that may be going a little too far!). Tackle more complicated jobs first thing in the morning, and keep your afternoons for the more mundane tasks (bearing in mind deadlines and importance).
5) Set goals and deadlines
Setting yourself clear goals and deadlines helps you to stay organised, focused and motivated – especially if you promise yourself a reward when they’re completed. This can be anything from a cup of coffee (or glass of wine!) to a spa day or weekend away, if it’s a particularly big project.
6) Just do it
In some cases you just have to force yourself to stop procrastinating, put your head down and get on with the task in hand! Sometimes this approach can have outstanding effects on whatever you are working on, be it a large report, your bookkeeping or your child’s homework.
At the end of the day all that matters is that you enjoy what you do, however you organise yourself and allow yourself time to do the things that matter to you. If all this sounds far too much for you or leaves you feeling very cold, then just employ a virtual administrator, such as myself to do it for you.
You can read more about Clare’s virtual administration services on her website.
Love our articles? Sign up to our free weekly mag in the box on the top right of this page, and we’ll send you a roundup of our latest stories every week!Clare Readman