For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned. - Victor Hugo
To become an organized leader, you have to develop time management skills and plan more effectively. A solid system of organization is absolutely fundamental to great leadership. First of all, it keeps you on the right track. It prioritizes what matters and your work and helps you continue to pursue the goals that matter. When you are disorganized, you may deviate from your plan and you might end up going in a direction that is inconsistent with your objectives.
In addition to how good organization keeps you focused, it also shows other people that you care about them. If you aren't very organized, you may forget to follow up with someone or keep an appointment. While it may simply seem like a minor lapse in memory to you, it is often viewed as a personal affront by those you've forgotten. Staying organized can keep you from ruining relationships by forgetting who you need to communicate with and when.
- Set realistic goals and stay focused on them - Your goals are the North Star that you'll follow day in and day out to achieve the success you desire. Be sure that they are realistic and inspiring, and keep them constantly front of mind so you'll be reminded to maintain your focus on achieving them.
- Get a calendar and maintain it, always - Whether it's an old-fashioned desk calendar or the latest synced-across-ten-devices app-based wonder, the key is to use it religiously. If you find that by February you're back to jotting down appointments on sticky notes, that's a good sign you're slipping!
- Set your priorities at the start of each day - Devote 20 minutes at the beginning of your business day to set your priorities. Make this time yours and yours alone by forwarding your phone to voicemail, ignoring your email, and keeping your schedule clear. If you have a hard time setting aside this time, reserve the time by making a daily appointment with yourself in--where else?--your calendar.
- Prioritize your priorities - Tackle your top priority first and your lowest priority last. This may seem obvious, but how many times do we do the quick-and-easy, low-payoff tasks first, and save the more difficult, high-payoff tasks for later? Unfortunately, later often never comes!
- Tie up loose ends at the end of each day - Set aside at least 20 minutes at the end of your business day to tie up loose ends. Go through your remaining work and make assignments to employees, forward information to coworkers as necessary, respond to e-mail and voicemail messages, file away the things that you need to keep, and toss the rest. Finally, quickly review your appointments for the following day.
- Clean up your workspace - It's hard to stay organized and on top of your most important tasks and priorities when your desk or your office is a mess. Take an hour or two every week to organize the paperwork that is no doubt taking over every inch of surface area. File away the things you don't need and take action on the things that require it. While a cluttered desk may not be the sign of a cluttered mind, it certainly won't help you get and stay organized for success.
Why invest in getting organized? Because one great way to deal with the crises, emergencies, and many other things you can't control is to be totally on top of the things you can control. You owe it to yourself, your employees, and your organization to always be the best you can be.