As a leader, it’s important to have a well-organized and disciplined approach to your work and your personal life. Taking time to organize and prioritize at work and at home will help ensure you have the energy and focus you need to lead effectively. Here are some action-items I use with my clients to assist them in improving their overall effectiveness:
• Your time: Let’s start with your calendar. Whether it’s electronic or paper, take some time to review everything that currently requires your time. I recommend you use a time blocking system, whereby you block out time for certain required activities and make no exceptions during those times. Delegate the clutter (tasks you don’t need to complete personally). I work with clients through this process often and the results are great. A good rule to follow: If the tasks don’t point towards you personal or business vision, delegate or dump them!
• Your physical space: To maximize daily productivity, it’s important that your workspace be organized. This includes your paper files, mail inbox, bookshelves, storage, and anything else in your physical workspace. Place the items you need to complete daily activities within reaching distance of your desk. Take some time to purge paper files you don’t need to keep for legal or documentation reasons. Sort through mail, magazines, and other documents. You might even benefit from re-arranging your office so things flow better. This is something I personally struggle with and recently worked to get under control. Get rid of the clutter!
• Your Computer: After your physical space is arranged, it’s time to clean up your electronic life. This means your e-mail, your computer desktop, electronic documents, and even your contact list. How you choose to store your electronic files is up to you, but it’s important that your electronic space is organized in a way that’s easy to use.
• Your Mobile Devices: Whether you’re a Blackberry fanatic, Droid addict, or an iPhone lover, chances are, you have some type of portable communication device strapped to you at all times. So, take some time to organize all the files, contacts, and applications on your mobile device. Don’t bog down your portable device with a bunch of photos and large files you rarely use. Also, take the time to update your phone message, and clean out your voice mailbox. Don’t let these devices get you off your time-blocking schedule.
• Your habits: We are all one big habit! Take an organizational approach to your habits, both good and bad ones. Whether or not you realize it, all your habits have a big impact on your work and your personal life. When coaching clients, one-on-one, we work on these a lot. Making you more effective is always the goal. If there are bad habits you’d like to break, examine them one at a time, and create a plan for how you’re going to tackle each one. If there are good habits you want to cement, take the same approach. Then, equip yourself with the tools and accountability partner (like a coach). Adopt the habits you need to have a more fulfilled, balanced life. Everything else, get rid of.
• Your personal life: Yes, we look at these too! Set aside some time to examine your personal time. How effective are you? Find someone objective (like a coach) to help you with this. Make sure your schedule also allows ample time for family, friends, community involvement, and hobbies.
• Your priorities: Once you have taken the time to organize all the above areas, consider how your priorities align with how you spend your time, at work and at home. Ask yourself the difficult questions. Realize that your life is made up of a limited amount of time. Each activity you invest time into requires a certain opportunity cost. What are the low priority items costing you?
In today’s world, the lines between work and home are getting increasingly blurry. I’m happy to tell you that YOU can regain control of your time by taking these steps that have proven to increase overall effectiveness. Going through this process will not only give you peace of mind in uncertain times, it also will equip you with the clarity and focus your work and your team deserve. Take a good, hard look at your priorities, and reorganize your time as needed to create and experience the best possible life. Call me if I can help. Have a great week!