By Jil Hart
I read an article online recently that called the beginning of the school year the “New Year for Moms.” I think that’s an appropriate title as it does feel like the start of a new year now that my kids are back in school. For those of us running businesses, it’s also just a few months before Christmas and time to dig in and get sales rolling again.
So, how do we get back on track after the crazy days of summer? Here are a few ideas.
Get a Plan
Planning is my favorite stage of organization. I get to brainstorm and dream about what God may have for me in the coming weeks and months. One of the ways that I plan best is in talking things over with someone – a friend of colleague who is willing to listen and give ideas.
I know other business owners who keep a whiteboard in their office. On the board, they list dreams that they have for their business, action steps they can take to get there and even sometimes a timeframe of when each step needs to be completed.
Write It Down
I’ve learned over the years that my plans never get anywhere unless I write them down and give them a timeline. This can be done online with tools like Google Calendar, Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) or collaborative tools like PBWorks.
While I do use these tools, I’ve found that what works best for me is the good old paper planner. I pick one up in the dollar section at Target at the start of each year and use it to keep appointments straight. I use a Monthly Planner because I can see the whole month at a glance, which keeps me from overbooking myself. It also has a place in the sidebar to keep notes, which comes in handy if there are specific things that I need to remember throughout the month. The planner fits in my purse so I can easily pull it out and add new appointments wherever I am.
Keep a List
I love lists. I have stacks of tiny pieces of paper and notebooks full of lists I’ve made to track projects that I want to complete and things I need to do. Unfortunately, a mound of paper doesn’t help me stay on top of tasks.
I’ve found that having one big notebook – the kind that has dividers – is the simplest way to keep track of my lists. I have a section for each major project I’m working on. Then, I can keep a list of regular tasks (sometimes a daily list, sometimes weekly) stuck to the front page of each project’s section. Once those tasks are done, I simply remove the sticky note, make up a new list of tasks and stick in where the other was. This keeps me focused and I get the satisfaction of crossing each task off the list.
Don’t Forget Free Time
One thing I constantly forget to do is schedule in time just to be. I find that I have to keep scheduled to get things done and yet part of the reason I work from home and run my own business is to have the freedom of flexibility. So, every couple of weeks I try to step back and take an hour or two just for me.
I don’t even mean lunch with a friend – I mean taking time to do something just for you. Go grab a cup of coffee and just sit and enjoy it. Take an hour or so to read that book you’ve been longing to read. OR just sit outside and enjoy God’s creation.
There are many ways to organize your days and it will depend on your personality and lifestayle as to what works for you. Try some different things until you find what’s right for you. Above all, keep an attitude of gratefulness and enjoy what you do.