Ep #24: How I Stay So Organized

From to-do lists, label makers and even an iRobot, I want to talk to you about how I stay so incredibly organized and productive in my business. Because oh my goodness, as an entrepreneur your work is never actually done– there is always task upon task to complete and if you don’t have the right systems in place for yourself, overwhelm can get the best of you! And when overwhelm consumes us…we end up standing still, paralyzed and not doing much of anything at all. No bueno! So today, I’m going to share my SECRETS– my style, supplies and simple systems for success.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • The infrastructure that keeps the heart of my business pumping (it’s definitely NOT what you expect!)
  • How to choose a system that works for YOU (because there’s no right or wrong)
  • How I balance personal and business tasks (and remain clear-minded)
  • The #1 system I’ve adopted this year that has been a game changer!

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TRANSCRIPT

Welcome back everybody. Thanks so much for being here as always. From to-do lists, label makers and even an iRobot, I want to talk to you about how I stay so incredibly organized and productive in my business. Because oh my goodness, as an entrepreneur your work is never actually done– there is always task upon task to complete and if you don’t have the right systems in place for yourself, overwhelm can get the best of you! And we all know what happens when overwhelm consumes us…we end up standing still, paralyzed and not doing much of anything at all.

Well my friends, that is going to change today. Because your big goals and dreams are so important and they deserve your full, focused attention. So today, I’m going to share my secrets– my style, supplies and simple systems for success.

So let’s first start with the infrastructure that keeps the heart of my business pumping. Everything that I do, each day that I wake up fully inspired, motivated and productive starts with a tidy home. I bet you didn’t expect for me to say that. But my home base serves as the base for my business– especially being somebody who works primarily from home.

Now I will say, that right now, because Nathan and I are finishing up with the move, our living space is a bit chaotic (which let me tell you, has not been easy for me). I’ve felt so out of sorts for weeks because of it and have even pressed the pause button on my coaching tasks. Let me assure you, that this is not the norm for me whatsoever.

I’d say we’re about 70% of our way back to an orderly environment and in turn, I’d say that I’m 70% back to my productive self. YUP, those two things absolutely, 100%, without a doubt mirror one another, which is WHY I strive to establish and maintain a clean and organized home 24/7.

Guys, when our living space is messy– when our beds are unmade, when we have clothes overflowing the laundry basket, dishes in the sink, papers scattered all over our desk, it exerts so much of our energy. Each time that our eyes make contact with clutter and disorder, it has a HUGE impact on our mental state. I cannot stress this enough. It’s the reason that I strive for a minimalistic lifestyle and why everything in my home has a proper storage place with a nice little label attached to it.

There is a huge connection between our physical surroundings and our mental clarity. That means, when our physical environment is cluttered, our minds become cluttered and what happens when our minds are on overdrive? YUP, we feel overwhelmed. And when we’re overwhelmed, we don’t do much of anything. We remain stuck and unproductive.

And I’m not bringing this information to you because we’re on the heels of Marie Kondo’s Netflix series, (but, yes if this concept is new to you, please go watch that, I also have videos on the topic over at my YouTube Channel), but rather this is something that I’ve been practicing since I was a teenager. I learned very quickly how much happier and more inspired I felt when my bedroom was nice and tidy. And I’ve taken this practice into my adult life because I am without a doubt my most productive self when my home is at its most clean and organized self.

You’ve probably even heard me say that cleaning is my therapy. When I’m stressed or overwhelmed with how much work I want to accomplish, I whip out the Windex, not the Xanax. Because when I’m finished cleaning, I’m then so motivated to work on my and for my business. I truly believe that learning to establish and maintain an orderly home, is one of the best things (if not the best thing) we can ALL do for our mental health and future successes. I mean truly. I feel that to be true in my heart.

So if you’re listening right now and you feel– mentally– out of sorts, you feel stagnant, overwhelmed, your energy level is low, then your first job is to clean up your living space. I don’t care if you start with one sock drawer or the plastic bin full of holiday décor, just start somewhere. Because the longer you disregard your external clutter, the longer you put off all the crap that’s happening in your mind and the longer you put off your goals.

I don’t think of my one desk (well now, I have two desks), but I don’t think of either desk as my sole workspace, but rather I treat my entire home as my workspace. As long my home shines, so do I. And that goes for you too!

In fact, I can tell a lot about a person’s ambition and productivity by walking into their home– a lot. I don’t tell them that, I don’t walk into a friend’s home and be like: I can’t even see the top of your desk…HMMMMM, not getting much done these days, huh? Or your closets are full from ceiling to floor…HMMMMM, carrying around a lot of baggage that you haven’t worked through?

It’s not my place to do that, unless of course they hire me.

But I want you to look around at your own space. What does it tell you about you and what’s going on internally?

And what small area can you get started on right now? Because tackling one small task in your home, will provide the mental clarity and freedom to tackle one small task toward your dreams.

OK, so now that you know what my #1 secret sauce is to staying organized and productive, let’s talk about other systems I use.

First, I’ve made it a habit to get everything out of my head and onto paper.

Again, this reduces that mental clutter and provides some structure as to what needs to get done and by what time frame.

And before I share what that looks like, you should know that I am a HUGE PAPER PERSON.

It is not my intention to kill trees, and I can assure you that I do recycle on a regular basis, but YES, I am a paper person. I have notebooks upon notebooks, folders, I use a paper calendar– not the one in my phone– I print out emails, articles and only read hard copy books…like I am extreme you guys.

I prefer paper. I can’t explain it any other way, other than: It’s what works for me. I prefer writing things down with a pen and paper versus typing them on a computer, I prefer crossing things off with a black sharpie, versus hitting the delete key, I prefer making highlights in a book and taking notes in a notebook. It’s just what my brain likes.

Now this may or may not be the case for you.

Nathan is the polar opposite of me. He does everything and I mean everything electronically. I don’t even think he owns a single notebook. And I’m pretty sure he has a single pen on his desk.

Before we lived together, I remember him coming into my office, and being like, “What are all of these folders and papers? Like how in heck do you stay organized?”

Like it’s hard for him to comprehend how I operate. He and I will talk about doing something and I’ll be like OK, great. He’ll say: well how are you going to remember? Aren’t you going to put a reminder in your phone?  

And I’ll say, no, I’m writing it on this pink post-it.

I cannot tell you how many times he’s tried to get me to switch over to software like Evernote– which is basically like a digital to-do list. And I’m like NOPE! I’ve tried it and I didn’t like it. To be honest, I think a part of it, is that I don’t like staring at screens for longer than I already have too.

So anyway, he’s kinda given up on trying to convert me to the digital side and now totally supports whatever paper system works for me. Because he sees that I am SO on top of my shit. And at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how (or what systems you’re using– paper or digital) as long as they work for you! Although I have a ton of hard copies, I have a filing cabinet, where again, everything is labeled and organized accordingly.

I buy those long to-do list pads and post-its. I love post-it’s for quick reminders and urgent tasks.

On a weekly basis, I’ll make two separate lists– one personal, one business. For example, on my personal list will be things like laundry, return at UPS, pickup order at Pottery Barn, get gas, go to ATM. I’ll make market lists and plan out our dinners for the week on Sunday night. Taking the time to make personal lists absolutely helps keep my mind focused on business tasks when I’m tackling those. Because if I sit down to write show notes for example, but my mind is racing with all the odds and ends that need to get done, I’m not going to be able to give 100% to content creation and reach that state of flow. So writing things down is a must for me!

And like I said, just as I have a personal to-do list, I have a business task list that I’ll post on my cork board at my desk.

I take into consideration the priority of each task– from high to low, but also choose tasks that I FEEL like doing in that moment. By doing so and letting my intuition lead the way, again, I’m able to achieve that state of flow much more quickly and in turn, the efficiency of completing the task is much greater.

For example, I’ll lay out all my podcast titles for the month. So when I sit down to write, I’ll choose the topic that feels most appealing to me in that moment. By doing so, it literally takes me half the time to complete an episode than it would if I chose a topic that I was not excited about in that moment.

Do not underestimate the state of flow in relation to productivity and efficiency. It’s a game changer.

I also keep a weekly planner at my desk, where I record all upcoming appointments with students and clients. I review my calendar a night in advance so that I can prepare for the day as needed. This way, I’ll know OK, I have two calls– one at 10am, one at 11am. So I’ll wake up at 7am that day to work on XYZ prior to the start of the calls.

Having some sort of a plan– even if it’s very general– even if I don’t entirely stick to it, helps me fall asleep faster because I know everything is neatly laid out on paper (and I’m not lying in bed thinking about all the things I need to do or remember to do that next day) and it helps me get out of bed faster, because I have these exciting goals laid out in front of me– goals that I can’t wait to start working on.

I like to wake up early almost every day. Even though I don’t HAVE TO wake up to go into an office and clock in, the earlier I get out of bed, the more productive my day feels. I love the peace and quiet in the early hours, especially living in a major city, and my brain just works better in the AM. When nighttime rolls around, all I want to do is prepare a nice dinner, take a hot shower and watch my reality shows on Bravo.

Once again, Nathan is the polar opposite of me. His brain works better at night. So he works until 3, 4am and will sleep until the early afternoon. (A little hard for me to understand his schedule, BUT it’s what works for him. And I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t appreciate having our living space all to myself in the mornings). When both parties work solely from home, it’s a blessing!

So I encourage you to figure out what hours of the day you work best. What part of the day do your creative juices flow? What hours do you think more clearly and are able to process information more easily? When do you face less distractions? You want to take all of these things into consideration.

And speaking of distractions…

I don’t love working at coffee shops or other public places. A part of me wishes I did, but I find them very distracting with all the people watching and such. It’s over stimulating for me, not to mention that I like having all my papers (all those papers!) neatly organized around me while I work. And I feel like I can’t achieve that same organized workspace in a public setting that I can in the comfort of my own home. Again, that’s just my personal preference. At home, I’ll sometimes play light music, I’ll sometimes have the TV on in the background and other times, I’ll sit in complete silence. It really depends on the day and what my vibe is. But I always lean into whatever environment keeps me focused on the task at hand.

One system that I’ve really utilized since the beginning of this year that has done wonders for me and my productivity is BATCHING MY WORK.

What is batching? It’s when you take similar activities or tasks and complete them all at the same time. For example, I’ll carve out 4-5 days just for writing content…that’s it! I’ll carve out 2 days just for recording. I’ll carve out a day of just running personal errands.

By doing this, it saves me so much time! And the reason for that, is because it takes far less energy to just focus on the same task over and over again than it does to constantly be switching your focus. Right, like getting into the state of flow, then creating content, then switching gears to setup the studio for recording, then recording, then cleaning the equipment up, then switching gears again and logging into all my online software and doing the backend tasks. That constant pivoting exerts so much energy!!! Batching my work is something that I will absolutely continue to do forever.

It’s not only more efficient, but it’s also refreshing to know, “OK, my podcast is all set for 4 weeks. I don’t have to worry about it for another month. OK, my social media posts are scheduled for the next 3 weeks, don’t have to worry about those for a while.”

LOVE IT!

And last, but not least, my final tip for staying organized and more productive is outsourcing. Now, this is not something that I necessarily advise if you’re at the beginning stages of turning your passion into a profit. But once you’ve gained traction, you’re making a profit and you have the dollars to reinvest back into your business, it’s something to explore further.

This is the first year that I’ve chosen to outsource a few different tasks of my business.

I’m somebody who likes to do everything on my own. I’m like…why would I pay someone when I can do it myself? Why hire someone when I can learn to do that myself?

But in the past 6 months, I realized that there were certain tasks that were not fun for me and/ or somebody else could do it much better and much faster, and ultimately provide me more time to work on the things that I enjoy!

Outsourcing has been a breath of fresh air for me. Because mentally some things were weighing me down– knowing they had to be done, stressing that I didn’t know how to do it and then attempting to spend hours and hours trying to learn and figure it out…it was ALL too much and made my head hurt. And again, that mental clutter leads to overwhelm which then leads to standing still and not doing anything at all.

No bueno! Clean that mental clutter up. And I guess to end full circle here, go clean up your living space!

I hope that you enjoyed this episode of Permission Granted. Thank you so much for listening as always. I’ll see you next time!

 

 

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