A lot of people think that being an entrepreneur means that I can do anything I want, anytime I want. While it’s true that I don’t have a boss who dictates my schedule, that doesn’t mean I’m just free-floating all the time—as an entrepreneur, I have learned to have a lot of self-discipline and to be very organized in my business and my life. So today I’m sharing with you some of my favorite organization tips. Your business can only grow to its full potential if your space and your time are clearly organized—I hope these tips help you clear the clutter and maximize your potential!
- DESIGNATE A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING
Time is money, as they say, and having an organized space will save you time. If you don’t take 10 seconds to put something in its proper place, you might lose 10 minutes looking all over for it later. When I complete a project for my DIY business, I don’t call it a day until each tool is put back into its designated space and the workshop is clean. In those moments, I’m often tired and ready to relax at that point in the day, but I motivate myself by imagining how inviting my workshop will be when I set to work on my next project—and how much time (and, therefore, money!) I’m saving in the long run.
- LOOK AT YOUR SPACE THROUGH SOMEONE ELSE’S EYES
Schedule frequent meetings at your workspace, whether that’s a home office, a rented space, or a workshop. Knowing that you’ll have regular visitors will force you to keep it orderly. When we’re the only one using our space, we have a tendency to become “blind” to dirt and clutter that might accumulate over time. But as soon as someone else comes by, we suddenly see what’s overflowing or out of place. Use this fact to your advantage by regularly inviting clients and colleagues to meet with you at your workspace—the pressure to have a clean, hospitable space will compel you to keep things organized.
- TRY OUT THE KONMARI METHOD
If your space really needs an overhaul, I highly recommend picking up Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This unlikely bestseller has taken the U.S. by storm and, after finally having a look at it myself, I can understand why. Kondo’s “KonMari Method” of organization involves radically purging your home or workspace of anything that does not “spark joy.” While this criterion might seem strange for organizing an office space, its basic premise of getting rid of anything that’s not serving a purpose seems right on target. The extreme purge takes time—Kondo recommends laying everything out and methodically putting back only what you need—but it is time well spent if, as she argues, you’ll never need to do it again!
- KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING—AND PARK ON A DOWNHILL SLOPE
The first three tips dealt with organizing our space; now let’s turn to how we manage our time. I force myself to make a plan in advance for each day and WRITE IT DOWN. If my plan for the next day (or at least for the first half of the day) is written down in my planner, then I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the evening. I can relax knowing that my instructions will be there waiting for me when I wake up. Sometimes I even make a point of stopping short of completing a particular task the day before so that I can begin the next day by picking up where I left off. Productivity experts call this “parking on a downhill slope,” and it can really help you start the day off with some momentum.
- TURN A TO-DO LIST INTO A TO-DO SCHEDULE
A list is designed to be added to, so it can make it hard to feel satisfaction if you’re adding as much as your checking off. To remedy this, try turning your to-do list into a to-do schedule. When I consult my calendar at the start of each week, I write in my to-do’s alongside my scheduled appointments. If I assign an actual time to a task, I am far more likely to actually get that task done. Having a to-do schedule has taught me to be much more realistic about how much I can get done in a given time. Sometimes it means not having time for everything on the to-do list, but it’s better to know that in advance than feel disappointed at the end of the week. With this method, I’ve found that not only am I getting more done but also I’m more tuned in to my schedule and can therefore say yes or no to new projects with much more confidence.
- PUT YOUR SCHEDULE WHERE YOU AND OTHERS CAN SEE IT
Put your important appointments/tasks on a shared, visible calendar where everyone else who matters can see it (family members, coworkers, roommates…). If you make your schedule and goals “public” in this way, you can avoid scheduling conflicts. You’ll also be more likely to complete tasks on time, because others can hold you accountable. You might share your schedule digitally, via a Google calendar or other shared site, but you can also go the try-and-true dry erase marker route. For home use, I got a magnetic wipe-off calendar from The Board Dudes with a set of markers so I can color-code based on category or person. For the office, I like their bigger and more professional-looking glass wipe-off calendar—it’ll keep you organized, give you a highly visible place to write down goals and important reminders, and look sleek if clients or collaborators come by.
- STICK TO A SYSTEM
Don’t be fickle. I love organizational tools, but sometimes they work against me because I get so excited about the newest app or planner that I don’t stick with one long enough to really reap its benefits. The most important thing about an organizational system is not if it’s pen-and-paper or digital, or if it’s got flashy new bells and whistles—the most important thing is that you stick to it. So do a little bit of research to decide what approach might be best for you, and then hurry up and start using it!
I hope you all find these tips helpful. I’d love to hear about how you guys stay organized, so feel free to leave a comment and/or share this article with friends to get their tips, too!
Please note that some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. This means that by clicking through and purchasing a recommended product, you are helping to support ThinkEntrepreneurship so we can continue inspiring as many entrepreneurs as possible! For more information, see our full disclaimer.