Make life easier: How organized can you get this year?
Another new year is upon us. I, like many of you, see a new year as a fresh start, out with the old and in with the new. I am encouraged to see myself with a clean slate, deciding what to change and focus on to be a better husband, father and leader—optimism abounds. Maybe you are having these same thoughts and feelings. If so, I have a suggestion: If there’s one good thing you can do for yourself and your business this year, it’s to get organized.
You might think, “Well I already log things in my Outlook calendar, so I’m good to go.” To that I’d say, good start—but there’s always more ways to get more efficient in life, improve your planning and become more reliable for others. In the last year, I’ve found a couple books and a new tool, useful not only in my own life, but also in the lives of other Nexstar staff and members:
“Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity”
This book by David Allen is all-around useful, but I took a couple of key things away from it. The first was a practical solution to those hundreds of emails you receive and random tasks people ask of you each day: If you can complete the requested task in two minutes or less, just do it. Right then. If it will warrant more time, then write it down. How many times have you seen an email, and thought, I’ll get back to that—and never do?
The second big thing I took away from this book was Allen’s suggestion that our minds were not created to hold every single thought we have. Your mind is not a one-terabyte backup drive, so quit trying to remember everything. When we write things down, we clear our minds to do more productive creative thinking. Those loose thoughts and tasks you can come back to, because you have it noted somewhere, which brings me to my next organization tool…
Developed by Ryder Carroll, “bullet journaling” is a pen-and-paper solution to organizing your life. It involves rapid-fire logging of all tasks, in both your work and personal life. A bullet journal logs future tasks as well, and can be customized to however you would like to organize your life. Though Carroll has created a specialty journal, you can use any journal for this.
I like using this method, as opposed to an application or online tool, because I like being able to carry my to-dos with me wherever I go, including places where I may not have computer, internet or cell phone network access. While at the end of each month it does take a little more time to go through tasks and log any changes, the time commitment to bullet journaling is minimal. Once you’re used to the process, it will save you time and energy on all those little tasks that you forget, and then waste time trying to remember or find by digging through hundreds of old emails.
Just imagine the freedom you’d have if you collected all your plans, commitments, requests, and even random brainstorming thoughts all in one place. It has really been helpful to me; I no longer search for that Post-it note or random legal pad I may have used to quickly jot a reminder to myself. I highly recommend doing an internet search to discover all the unique ways people are completing their bullet journals and to see how Carroll recommends using the system.
To this point this article has been mainly about organizing yourself, but how about a tool to organize your business and employees. What if you all could get more done?
At Nexstar, every staff member creates a quarterly document we call our 100-day plans. We also recommend our members use these in their residential home services businesses, too. These plans are made up of the upcoming quarter’s key projects and action items. Those familiar with Gino Wickman and his book, “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business,” refer to these as “rocks.” The action items that make up a 100-day plan are individual tasks that help the company move forward toward its yearly goals. The secret to making this work in your business is to display them publicly. At Nexstar, you would see about 40 100-day plans on a wall in our breakroom. As we complete an action item, we highlight them, communicating that the action item was done. This truly adds a level of accountability for each of us.
With 2016 in the rearview mirror and 2017 now here, I wish you a prosperous New Year and challenge you to get as efficient as you can in your life and business. Cheers to getting organized!