Staying focused, not wasting time on tasks that aren’t useful, and maximizing ‘economy of work flow’ are some useful things you’ll find below.
Introduction: Why Stay Organized?
If you’re starting a business, whether it be online or offline, you’ll soon find that the to-do list(s), meetings, accounts, and various other aspects of the doing business will start to pile up.
If you keep on top of it from your very first day, you’re likely save a lot of time and increase your work efficiency. Staying organized will help you save time, money, and stress; all of these things will go a long way with helping your business be more profitable and help you work smarter instead of working more. Here are a few steps we recommend to help you get more organized.
Step 1: Use a Password Manager
There are a lot of great options out there for password managers. If you’re running Windows, you should check out KeyPass. It’s free, and open source. There is also an “unofficial” release for the likes of Mac OS, android, and several other types of operating systems.
An alternative to password managers is to use something like Excel and keep track of your login details, and then encrypt that excel file with a master-password that you have written down in a notebook, or somewhere safe. This allows you to load your Excel sheet onto encrypted storage devices for safe keeping, but also comes with a few downsides; such as being a bit cumbersome and a little bit less secure than some other options.
LastPass is another option which is very easy to use, and offers a lot of great features (like strong password generation). It’s used by millions of users, and has access to your passwords and accounts via a single login. They have set up a variety of saftey protocols to ensure that your passwords are never to be revealed.
Step 2: Use Notes
I personally like to use a combination of a notebook that I can write in, and notes on my computer. Date your entries, and try and delete notes that are no longer relevant.
Notes have a wide variety of uses. You can use them to quickly jot down a moment of Satori, or just to write about what you heard in a meeting with a client. Whatever you may use them for, they will be useful for keeping information about what you’re working on.
If you want to use an application for taking notes you could check out Evernote. It’s loaded full of features such as: take notes as a video, text, audio, or image. This highly functional app is sure to make taking notes a breeze. We love the scanning feature, which allows you to use your phone’s camera to scan a document. After the app has scanned it you can add your own text, images, or signature to it!
Step 3: Use Organizational Tools
There are a large variety of apps, tools, and websites that offer some amazing products and services for staying on-top of your game. These tools range from project management, general organization, to an “all-in-one” command center for your business and marketing needs. Many of them are free to use/try for basic plans, let’s get into it:
- Trello: is a great way to organize tasks, and communicate the the tasks with your colleagues. It allows you use ‘cards’ to visually track and organize your tasks, ideas, and work. The cards are highly functional: you can assign specific team members to a card, add due-dates, attach images and files. We use Trello here at GuruShop to help organize our work flow, share ideas, and tasks with members who are remotely located.
- nTask: Here is another option for project management. They offer a free version for “individual/freelancer” which is always welcomed. Otherwise, you’ll have to pay $3-8 per user, depending on the package you select. One area where nTask excels is with the visual analysis of projects and tasks. You can easily manage your work in different views such as list, grid, calendar, and board view. You can assign due dates, set statuses, give priorities, assign tasks/projects to team members, create to-do lists, manage meetings, and collaborate through comments. It’s free to try, so check it out if you’re interested.
- Wrike: is basically a direct competitor or alternative to nTask. They offer a free plan for small teams which includes:
- Board view (similar to Trello)
- Task Management
- File sharing
- Real-time Activity Stream
- Spreadsheet view
- Basic integrations (Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, MSFT Office 365 and OneDrive)
- Desktop & mobile apps
- Cloud storage integrations (Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive)
- 2 GB of storage space
If you want more you’ll have to pay starting at about $10 per month and upwards depending on your team size and usage needs.
Beyond that you’ll get data analytics on your projects, team members, and integrations with common applications such as:
- HubSpot: If you’re not familiar with HubSpot, now is the time to get acquainted. HubSpot offers a complete CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) platform with all the tools and integrations you need to grow your business; whether you want to increase leads, accelerate sales, streamline customer service, or build a powerful website. HubSpot offers all of this, and for FREE!
Free CRM, marketing, sales, and service tools are certainly welcomed additions, especially if you’re an entrepreneur on a budget trying to get your business off the ground.
If you want more features you’ll have to pay: their basic plan starts at $480 dollars per year and goes up from there depending on your needs, and size of business. Nevertheless, for what’s on offer we highly suggest you go check it out if you’re interested.
- DropBox: We’ve already written a whole article about this one, so may we suggest you go take a look here. DropBox is a virtual way to organize all your files and data. It’s a cloud based solution for accessing your files from anywhere in the world. It’s one of the best cloud based file storage solutions around. It has great organizational features like separate folder differentiation and offline files access.
- CoSchedule: Check out our full review of CoSchedule HERE. CoSchedule helps relieve some of that stress of organization and marketing, by positioning itself as your ‘command centre’ – your one-stop, fully-integrated calendar and marketing tool. With great features like, calendar, marketing campaigns, team performance reports, and tasks; you’re sure to find some great uses for CoSchedule.
Other Useful Tools
- Webtime Tracker: This is helpful tool to see how much time you’re actually spending on your work, versus perhaps YouTube or Facebook. There are loads of different versions, but here at GuruShop we use a browser plugin called “Webtime Tracker by Pitta Sittek”. It’s pretty basic, but it does the trick.
If you’re looking for a more advanced time tracker check out TimeDoctor. TimeDoctor has a lot of great features for tracking employees time spent working, generating reports, app integrations, break-time tracking, invoicing, screen shot tracking, and much more!
- Phone Apps: There are some great applications for your cell phone which can help you stay focused and on task for a specific period of time. We use a simple one called “BeFocued”.
BeFocused is free, easy to use, and even has some cool features like: to-do lists and graphic displays of how you’ve spent your time working. This app can be used for any activity you’d like such as: exercise, breaks, or leisure time. You can find it in the App store on your phone.
There are many good reasons to take a break. Many studies show that taking a break helps improves your productivity and allows you to produce higher quality work or products. Beyond the productive boost, breaks allow us to feel better and stay positive about what we’re working on.
It’s actually advised by many physical therapists to stand up ever 30-40 minutes and do some light movement, or stretching. This will help maintain or even improve your posture, as well as numerous other health benefits such as better circulation and mental health.
So take a break and take them often; do some stretches, a few push-ups, some squats, and then get back to it! OR take a nap if you feel the need to lay down.
Don’t Make Your to-do List too big:
We’ve talked a lot about lists, applications that help make lists and organize tasks, but all of these lists and organizational tools can potentially be a double-edged sword.
To avoid the pit-falls of this over organizational bonanza it’s best to make your to-do list fairly small.
That’s right, make your to-do list small, short and sweet. That way it won’t look overwhelming and you won’t get “paralysis” by looking at a massive to-do list that looks as if it’ll never be completed. Keep your core tasks small, check them off when you’re finished, then replace finished task with a new one.
Economy of Work and Daily Routine:
One of the best things you can do is strive to make a daily routine, and try your best to stick to it. Write it out your tasks, then allocate a certain amount of time you want to dedicate to that task per day. For example:
8:00-9:30 AM – Exercise and Yoga
9:30-12-30 PM- Work
12:30-1:30 PM– Eat
1:30-3:00 PM – Work
3:00PM-4:30PM- Study (music, or a new course, or whatever you’re interested in)
4:30-5:30 PM- Chores
5:30-6:30 PM- Eat
6:30-7:00 PM– Free time for whatever else you’d like to do.
Now this is just an example, and you could structure your daily schedule in whichever way you think is best suited for you.
Nevertheless, strive for a good balance of work, breaks/free time, learning, hobbies, etc… On some days you may be really making good progress on a project so don’t be too strict, sometimes it’s good to allow yourself an extra 30 minutes or an hour to finish up what you’re doing.
If you take a few small steps, you can start being even more efficient with your time and work. Some people are naturally organized, but for those of us who struggle with organization, don’t fret. There are many tools at your fingertips which can be used to help you stay on top of your work and keep the headaches at bay.