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4 Steps Leaders Can Use To Get Organized

October 09, 20233 min read

Almost every week I work with leaders who try to execute a sizable number of tasks without taking the time to get organized. It’s almost impossible. Because they are not organized, they switch from task to task without any sense of direction, priority, or time-sensitivity. Sadly, things fall between the proverbial cracks. 

Interested in learning some ways to get organized? If so, read more to discover a few basic insights that can make your life less stressful, more productive, and better organized.

Step #1 – Don’t try to remember things.

One of the most common mistakes that leaders make is to try to remember too much. Most leaders have so many responsibilities that there is no way they can remember everything.

Your brain works in a strange way.  It constantly tries to remember things (like a continuous loop) so that it doesn’t forget them. Therefore, until you place information, tasks, and events somewhere, your brain will work to remember them. This increases your fatigue and causes you to be less effective.  

By lodging information, tasks, and events somewhere, it frees your brain from trying to remember them. It’s like your mind says, “I know where that information is. I can relax. I do not have to remember it. I can find it when it is needed.” 

Having a place to put information is important. If it is a time-related event, place it on a calendar. If it is a task, place it on a task list. Just having a place to lodge information is an important step to getting organized.  

Step #2 – Place all tasks on an “area of responsibility” task list.  

I have found that having tasks lists for various areas of responsibility is very helpful. These areas can include various roles at work, home, and play. For example, at work a leader can develop a financial task list, a personnel task list, a marketing task list, etc. Placing tasks on specific lists allows you to sort responsibilities as you place them there. 

Task List

Avoid just developing a lengthy list with numerous tasks from multiple areas of responsibility. Doing so requires you to work through the list, sort it, etc. before you can execute. Long lists cause you to overlook important tasks just because the list is too long.

When something pops in your mind, place it on the correct list. Forget about it and move on. It will be there when you return, and you do not have to remember it.

Step #3 – Migrate all events to one calendar.

Some events or tasks are time-related activities. If something is tied to time, it needs to go on a calendar, not a task list. Time overrides tasks. By placing it on a calendar, you increase your possibility of getting the task done by when it is due.

Some leaders have multiple calendars. Doing so creates confusion and increases the probability that something will fall between the cracks. If you use a written calendar, place everything (personal and business) on one calendar. You can color-code entries to differentiate various components of your life. If you use a digital calendar, share everything on one calendar. The various calendars can be colored-coded also. 

I cannot underscore enough the significance of having one calendar for everything. It will simplify your life and reduce your stress.

Business Calendar

Step #4 – Look ahead at tomorrow.

Getting data on a task list or a calendar only puts information before you. You must review that data and make decisions based on time and importance. I have written several posts that deal with productivity like time-blocking that will increase your effectiveness.  

Practice being present in the moment. Take a few minutes to look at tomorrow. Consider what is already on your calendar. Look for vacant spots to execute tasks. Look at your tasks, prioritize them, and complete them during those vacant times. 

Attempting to go through your day without taking the time to get organized is like taking a trip without taking time to pack properly. You will likely forget something. Doing so will make your life difficult. Organization is such an important skill. Take the time to master it. It will change your life!

Productive Employee System Checklist

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Dave Pennington PhD

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