In this column, I am going to be discussing the importance of structure within your workday and how to effectively organize each day to best utilize your time. Being an entrepreneur or a young professional, time is easily one of your most valuable commodities.
In order to climb the ranks within your field of choice, you must learn how to effectively manage your time and achieve all of your goals within limited time frames. Throughout every day, week, and month, you have decisions to make that pertain to your time.
“Should I get into the office early today? or do I want that extra thirty minutes of rest?”
“Do I have time to grab lunch with my uncle who is in town? or should I run the analytics for my final client of the morning?”
Start with a Set of Goals in Mind
Everyday, we are asking ourselves, “why aren’t there more than 24 hours in a day?” With so much going on and such little time to stop and think, it is extremely important to start each day with a goal or a set of goals in mind.
Knowing what you want to accomplish throughout the day will give you constant direction and allow you to easily make sound decisions to the questions above. On top of that, you will put yourself one step ahead of your competition whether it be in the office or out in the business world.
How I Organize each day for Maximum Productivity and Focus
For the past 8 years, I have been testing methods to effectively organize each day because when you are an entrepreneur, you don’ have anyone except yourself pushing you to accomplish new goals. I have experimented with Google calendar, physical calendars, to do lists (both on the computer and in a notebook), but none of them have worked as well as having a work journal where I organize every aspect of my entrepreneurial life.
To demonstrate how my method works, I would like to walk you through a typical Monday in my shoes.
It’s Monday morning and I wake up at 6:30 am. I brush my teeth, make lunch, get dressed, and arrive at the office around 7:15 am. I’m sitting in my chair with a coffee, my computer set up, and my work journal ready to go. Before jumping into the nitty-gritty of email responses, I flip open to my Google calendar to check for any meetings and then open my journal to a fresh page.
Step 1: Outline my Focus
At the top, I write “Goals for August 12th”. I then split the page into 3 sections: Meetings, Tasks, and Home.
Step 2: Meetings
Next, I refer to my calendar and transpose my meetings into the notebook in shorthand. For meetings that require preparation, I include a check box so that I know to set time aside. For meetings not yet in the calendar, I add them and invite anyone involved so that when they start their day, they remember the meeting.
Great! Now I know that I have at least four hours of my day taken away because of meetings. This leaves me with 6 to 7 hours to spend working on project related tasks before closing the computer and heading home to tackle other goals.
Step 3: Daily Basis Team Tasks
Third, I refer to the previous page of my notebook where I created a set of goals for the week organized into each respective team that the task corresponds to. My first move is to add the team related tasks that I have identified as needing to be completed on a daily basis. I then add these tasks to my daily organizer and assign an estimated time frame to each to understand how many I will be able to complete.
Learn how to utilize 30 minutes on each Sunday to make the most out of each week and further improve your ability to plan each day by reading my column titled How to Plan your Work Week with a Strategic Mindset.
Step 4: Project Related Tasks
From there, I add tasks that are related to projects I am beginning to work on. These projects usually entail new growth initiatives within the company where a select number of individuals are working to test a new idea before launching it with full force. Again, I assign estimated time frames to each so that I do not over-allocate time based off of what I know I am already committed to for the day.
Step 5: Post-Work Goals
I then think of what I would like to get done once I pack up my things and call it a work day. These goals usually pertain to working out, cooking dinner, weekly errands, reading, and staying in touch with friends and family. I find it useful to continue planning my day even after the work day has finished in order to stay motivated and avoid time spent in front of the television.
A Fully Organized Day
By this time, it’s usually around 7:45 am and I still have a half hour to review emails and prepare for meetings before the bulk of the team gets into the office. Throughout the day, I have a constant purpose because of the 30 minutes that I spend at the beginning of the day to set a path for myself.
As I complete meetings and tasks, I gladly check them off of my list and transition into a new meeting or task. Before I know it, the team is starting to pack up their bags for the day and I am still asking myself, “why is there not more time in the day?”
A Personal Challenge
I challenge you to use the first 30 minutes of your day over the next week to organize your time into meetings, project related tasks, and home goals. Feel free to tinker with the method that I have proposed to best fit your working style. Once your week is completed, come back and let me know if you felt more organized and productive. If you’re interested in learning more about productivity, sign up to my email list and begin to receive weekly updates on the blog!
If you have other methods for organizing your day, start a conversation in the comments section to help other readers learn. If you think that your friends or coworkers may be interested in learning how to effectively organize each day of their work lives, share this with them!