Starting the year with an empty inbox

Starting the year with an empty inbox

With all these freezing winter days (nearly more days below zero than above), we’ve had some time to think about getting organized for the year. And then we all got the flu. Already, we have been reminded that a plan is only as good as its ability to be implemented. Fortunately, it’s never too late to get started getting organized!

Like most folks, Spindle and Widget are setting goals and hoping to realize new projects and new experiences. We are also trying to avoid some gotchas that often come up as we make new resolutions for the year.  Here are our guidelines for 2014 planning, hopefully they can be helpful to you, too:

  1. Pick 3 main goals. We got this from Leo Babauta’s “The Power of Less,” but it’s just good common sense. Too many goals and it’s easy to get lost. We have a project-type goal, a financial goal, and a geographic-area-served goal for the year.
  2. Schedule time to organize weekly. Gin has been doing this since her days as an executive director. Block a time on your calendar as regularly scheduled organizing time each week. And then don’t book anything else during that time! (Or if you must, make sure to re-schedule the organizing block immediately, and close to your regular time).
  3. Start the year with an empty inbox. There are so many apps and tools for managing your inbox. Use those, by all means, but also go ahead and delete or archive emails as soon as you don’t need them — starting right now by clearing everything out that you don’t need from last year. Try to keep your inbox to 10 items or less. Believe it or not, we manage to do this most of the time.
  4. Set those meetings now.  Whether it’s strategic planning, event coordinating, or organizing a birthday party, get the people in the room thinking with you as soon as possible. It will help you schedule your time for the project, and ensure that you have the help you need.
  5. Make time for review. This is a case of learning from your mistakes. We recently gave ourselves a few months to track a social media experiment. At the end of the period, we almost forgot to look at all the data, because we didn’t block time for the review! Now we’re making sure to consider the final analysis of internal work as a separate project that needs scheduling, too.

There are so many apps out there to help with all of these strategies (we like BeeBole for timesheets, Dropbox and Google Drive for sharing content, and Pinterest for compiling visual research), but at the end of the day, what matters most is our approach. Will we take our own planning as seriously as we take our clients? Will we use the time we schedule for ourselves well?

How about you, how will you get more organized this year?

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