1. Get your paperwork under control. The number one thing that clients call us for is paper. Paper piles, mail, to-do lists, business cards, ideas for projects, and on and on! To clear a back log, FAR your paperwork and make 3 piles: File, Action, Recycle. File the things you need for reference, or you need to keep for the IRS or some other government department. Get tough with your action pile – if it’s something that might happen, someday, maybe, put it in the recycle pile and forget about it – you most likely would have forgotten about it anyway.
2. Focus on being productive. Being organized is a means to an end, not the end product. Be sure to make a short list of “must do” actions each day. Do those things first. The rest is gravy. I write my list on a sticky note so it can’t be too long and it get’s posted right in front of where I work to remind me to stay on task. I only ever have one sticky note that has my “must do’s”. Any other to-do’s are collected on a master list which can be referred to when making the “must do” list. I make my list at the end of my day so I can fully rest at night and not be thinking about all the things I need to do the next day while I’m trying to sleep. Keep a hot file of the paperwork associated with actions either by due date (tickler file), by type of activity (See David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”), by project, or by priority (immediate, soon, later, or whatever labels work for you.)
3. Know when and how you work the best. Schedule blocks of time to work on your most important tasks when you are at your peak performance. Notice your style of working. Are you able to sit and focus for long periods of time and getting up for supplies breaks your concentration? Are you the opposite? Do you need a break from sitting in one place to keep up the creative flow? Make your office fit what you need. Place supplies either in easy reach, or so that getting them is an excuse to move.
If you can make keeping your paperwork under control, focusing on your top priorities each day and making time to do your best work habitual, you will be amazed at what you accomplish.