Staying organized is tricky even for people who are naturally orderly and systematic. When you have a lot going on it’s easy for things to get away from you. Plus, it can be hard to not get distracted or off track.
To help stay organized, you need to take a proactive approach by planning ahead, setting up systems, finding ways to automate tasks, and outsourcing. Doing these things takes some time and effort on the front end, but in the long run, it is so worth it. And you’ll feel a lot less stressed and overwhelmed.
Below, I go over 15 strategies for how you can stay more on top of your workload and personal to-do lists, and free up more of your time in the process.
I also link to several tools and resources. Some of which I’ve used personally and love, and others, I’ve read about and think are worth a try.
Let’s take a look…
Automate Whatever You Can
Automating tasks makes your life much easier. And while you may not think so at first, there are actually lots of things, both personal and business-related, that you can affordably automate.
For example, lots of grocery stores offer delivery options. You just make a list and place the order. Then, you can continue re-ordering using the same list and have your groceries delivered. Or, you could have the grocery store prep your order for you and then you can pick it up. As a third option, you could subscribe to AmazonFresh, pick out your groceries, place your order, and often times be able to have your order delivered the same day.
Another task you can easily automate is paying your bills. Most of the time, there’s an option to go paperless and to set up automatic payments. This is typically the case for paying for utilities, Internet, gym memberships, and credit cards. Automating your bill-paying also prevents you from forgetting to pay your bills so you can avoid penalties for late payments.
In terms of business things you could automate, awhile back I wrote a post about marketing automations, which details some really helpful ways to automate a variety of common business tasks.
Plan Your Social Media Campaigns in Advance
I highly recommend doing this, as it’s a huge time savor. Rather than logging into all of your social media accounts and posting content each day, you can take a couple of hours one day and schedule a whole bunch of social media content to be posted over the course of the next few weeks or months or however long.
The top four tools I recommend for doing this are…
Use Cloud-Based Tools to Store and Save Receipts, Invoices, and Other Documents
Going digital and using cloud-based tools is a much more effective way of managing and saving things like receipts, invoices, and other important documents.
Working with paper documents creates a lot of clutter and things can get disorganized really quickly. In lieu of paper, I recommend using the following (free) cloud-based tools:
- Evernote Scannable to scan items anytime you need to work with paper documents
- Dropbox to save documents, organize them into folders, and easily access them even when you’re not online
- Google Drive as another means of saving and storing documents (it’s also a good way to collaborate on projects if you share them with other people)
Create a System for Managing Customer Support
Customer support is a hugely important part of running a business. And one of the simplest ways to save time and still provide stellar support is to create a list of the most common questions and issues that come up and then create response scripts that you can copy and paste as needed.
I’ve written a couple posts on this topic in the past, and you can feel free to use the scripts I came up with, which you’ll find by clicking the links below:
Manage Your Passwords
First off, do not use the same password for everything. I know it’s tempting and would make life easier, but it’s not a wise thing to do. With that being the case, given the number of accounts most people have, it would be next to impossible to remember all of your usernames and passwords off the top of your head.
One thing you can do is maintain a document with all the login information for all the accounts you have.
Or, you can use the 1Password app, which remembers all of your passwords and enables you to log in with just one click. Pricing starts at $2.99 a month.
Another tool you can use is RoboForm. This is what I personally use, and it’s free! RoboForm also enables one-click logins; it’s supported on multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android; and it provides offline access.
Create a Workspace That Works For Your Flow
If you’re happy in your environment, you’re more likely to be more productive and motivated about your work.
Many people’s workspaces are cluttered and not well organized. Start by throwing things out that you don’t need and designating a proper place for everything you do need. Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant, turns organization into an art form. And the basic premise of her philosophy is to identify the items and objects that bring you joy and then throw out anything that doesn’t. You can read more about her suggestions here.
In addition to making your workspace as joyful as possible, you also want to make it as effective as possible. For example, if you drink a lot of water throughout the day, instead of getting up over and over again to refill your glass, you could keep a water pitcher on your desk for easy access.
Or, if you’re easily fatigued sitting down all day, you might consider investing in a treadmill desk or a more ergonomic chair.
Organize Your Computer Files
Going paperless is great. But that doesn’t mean you should leave your computer files in disarray. When your computer files aren’t organized, you end up wasting time searching for files when you can’t remember their exact names.
So create appropriately named folders on your computer and take the extra 5 seconds it takes to put each file you create or download into the correct folder. You should also delete all of the files you no longer need. Or, if you think you’ll need those files later on, you can back them up and store them elsewhere in order to free up space.
Keep Track of Your Time
We’re all guilty of wasting some time throughout the day. But if you track your time, you might discover that you waste a lot more time than you realize or that certain tasks are taking a lot longer to complete than they need to.
I find it crazy helpful to keep track of my time in 15-minute increments. I often will set a timer to do this too. I bought a simple kitchen timer on Amazon that is profoundly helpful.
Or, if you don’t want to keep track of your time yourself, Toggl is an app you can use. You can try it for free for 30 days. After that, pricing starts at $9 a month.
Develop a System for Managing Your Inbox
Your inbox is something that can get out of hand super easily, especially if you have multiple email accounts like I do. I get thousands of emails a week and it would be impossible to handle all of those emails without some kind of system in place.
Fortunately, I have a few wonderful, dedicated assistants to help manage my inboxes. But if an email management VA isn’t in your budget, here are two email management tools you can try:
Plan Ahead for Taxes
If you don’t plan ahead for taxes, you can end up owing a lot of money — money that you may not be prepared to lose come April 15th.
So don’t get caught off-guard. Set aside a designated amount of money each week or set up your bank account to deduct that amount each week and then put that money aside for taxes in a separate account.
Additionally, starting at $5 a month (after a 30-day free trial), QuickBooks is accounting software that calculates your quarterly tax payments (among other things) so you can stay on top of how much money you owe. QuickBooks helps you organize your income and expenses into tax categories and it makes it easy to collaborate with your accountant.
Take Away Distractions
SelfControl is for Mac users. And News Feed Eradicator can be added to Chrome. Both of these apps make it so that you can block your own access to specific, distracting websites for however long you need. This way, you can concentrate more easily and get more work done.
(I talk about a number of tools like these in more detail in several of my books. To learn more, go here.)
This may seem like an odd addition to this list, but I find that taking inexpensive car services like Uber and Lyft saves me a ton of time. (I personally prefer Lyft because Uber’s CEO isn’t the best dude, but both services get the job done.)
And whichever one you prefer, using a car service instead of driving yourself allows you to save time trying to find parking spots. Plus, you can work while you’re traveling, especially if you have an air card or download the Gmail Offline extension and enable Google Drive to operate offline.
Get Laser-Focused on Your Goals
This strategy turns into a huge time saver in the long run because you learn to say “no” a lot more easily once you have your goals honed in.
Choose your top goals for the next 12 weeks. Then, choose 1-3 things that are important to get done each day you plan on working.
You can write down your list ahead of time for the following day. Or, to save time, you can do what I refer to as “Power Hours.” (Click here to learn more about my power hours.)
Outsource Whenever Possible
Last week, I talked about the value of outsourcing and how to find high-quality virtual assistants and graphic designers.
In addition to the sites I mentioned in that post, Fiverr is a great resource to find inexpensive, fast outsourcing help. I’ve used Fiverr for a whole bunch of tasks, like creating designs, having product videos made, coming up with blog post ideas, and a whole lot more.
I also recently had Fiverr help me with some Low Hanging System critiques that had been sitting in limbo for forever because they take ages to edit. So I hired someone on Fiverr, and presto! The task was completed super fast and for not a lot of money.
To get help making calls, which I personally hate doing, I use MyFancyHands, and they will actually make the calls for me!
If you want to learn more about outsourcing and how to do it effectively, you can check out my outsourcing course Work Less to Live More: Outsourcing.
Organize Your Thoughts
Evernote is AMAZING for this. You can put down all of your random notes and things you want to remember in there so you can keep everything in one place.
For example, you can jot down all of your health information (I have a health “notebook” that I use that to write down notes and scan in important health information). Or, I also use Evernote to keep track of my travel notes, as a way of remembering where I’ve been, which airlines I prefer, et cetera. Plus, I house my product testimonials in Evernote.
Really, you can use it for anything! Evernote will help you stay a lot more organized in both your life and business.
What do you think of this list of organizational strategies? Do you do anything else to stay organized that you can share? Leave a comment below and let me know!