Well, hello there, 2016.
Here we are at the beginning of a fresh new year, and for many people the new year is equated with a fresh start and new energy to pursue your goals.
However, the new year is also associated with failure. The reality is, most people who set goals at the beginning of the year often don’t succeed.
The idea is to set yourself up for success, and not for failure.
Today I’m going to share some tips with you to help you be more productive and organized in 2016. Now, I’m not pretending to be a productivity expert, but I have successfully been self-employed for 8 years, and wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned and some of the ways I’ve managed to be successful despite myself!
Here are 6 Organization and Productivity Tips to help you win 2016
Setting goals: Oh, sure, goals are important. But how you set goals is just as important. Often when people set goals, they are lofty and grand. There’s nothing wrong with that, but as soon as you feel overwhelmed by how huge your goal is, you’ll stop working towards it. Big goals need to be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps, of they’ll be too hard to achieve. Do your dreaming and brainstorming in a large space so you can really brainstorm–a large whiteboard works well, or a blank wall you can fill with post-its. Then you can break down those larger goals into smaller, more manageable chunks. For really big tasks that need to be done that make me feel overwhelmed, I dedicate 15 or 20 minutes per day, each day, to doing them. I even set a timer. Chipping away at big goals in this way makes them more manageable, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done in just 15 minutes a day.
Accountability: Another really important key to achieving your goals is having someone to be accountable to. I consider myself pretty self-disciplined, but I still often put my own needs and business last. You need to set a deadline and be accountable to to someone outside of yourself. I’ve been a part of accountability groups in the past, and they were really helpful. We would meet on weekly, or bi-weekly basis, and check in, then set goals for our next week(s). Another way to do this is to create an online accountability group on Facebook or Google+.
Create Systems: as a small business, you probably have tasks that you don’t really enjoy, but you have to perform on a regular basis. For me, it’s usually around money: invoicing, entering my expenses into spreadsheets, etc. One way of dealing with those is setting a time every week when you are “booked” to do that task. So, for example, instead of sending and invoice after you complete a project, instead set a time, say, every Friday afternoon, where you sit down and create all the invoices for the week. This works, because it might be something you hate, but once you get into it, it kinda flows, and then it gets done. You may want to build in a little reward for yourself as well, after you’re done.
Track where your time goes: So. Here’s the thing: are you really being productive when you’re on your computer? Or are you fooling around on Facebook? Eeep! It’s not bad to take a break and check in on Facebook. However, if you track where you are spending your time, you might find that you’re spending A LOT of time on there. It’s not about judgement, it’s about knowledge. Once you have the knowledge, you can make decisions. Check out this blog post that lists 20 of the best time-tracking apps.
Write it all down. You can do this in an old-fashioned way, like in a daytimer, notebook or journal, or you can do it with voice memos or an app. Evernote is one of my faves, but you can also check out Wunderlist, or Remember the Milk. Here’s a great list to check out. According to author Daniel Levitin, (The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload) our brain can only store 4 items at a time, but as soon as you write stuff down, and do a brain dump, you’ll feel much less anxiety.
Prioritize. After you’ve written it all down, then you have to prioritize. What are the things that have to get done now, and what can wait? Deadlines will play a big part in this. I also prioritize things based on how long they will take. For example, I have a list of short tasks that can be done in a few minutes if I am, say, about to have a phone meeting with a client.
Additionally, check out this list list of Five Ways to make 2016 Your Most Productive Year Ever from Mike Vardy, the Productivityist.
What are your favourite tips for GSD? Share them in the comments below, and Happy New Year!