Productivity Advice for Entrepreneurs

Tips For Entrepreneurs On Getting Organized

Written by Andrew Goldman for Gaebler Ventures

Small business owners have a myriad of daily tasks needing completion. By using checklists the small business owner can stay on top of their work and easily track their progress.

There are few people who understand the amount of hard work that goes into running a small business.

Tips For Entrepreneurs On Getting Organized

For the entrepreneur, the amount of daily tasks can be overwhelming. Phone calls and follow-up calls need to be made, emails need to be written, meetings need to be scheduled and a whole host of other responsibilities need to be accounted for.

None of these tasks are more important than the next, as all of them need to be completed.

Usually the small business owner has some form of organizing electronic device or datebook, some may even have the luxury of a personal assistant. Whether you have one of these systems or not, chances are tasks still fall through the cracks, which is why getting truly organized and making daily lists part of your routine is so crucial.

Datebooks, calendars and personal assistants can all be effective, but none are as accurate as the good old fashioned daily list. The daily list is a notebook (can be homemade or purchased) with a page for each day of the year.

For each day, a serious of "to-dos" should be listed line by line. If you have to call someone back in a week, you would flip to that day and put the call on the list. Once you've made the call, you check it off the list. It sounds simple, but by listing every task that you have to get done in a given day, you can ensure that you haven't missed anything.

If a task does not get done in day, you move it to next day. A checklist is a great Operations Management tool, as it leaves no stone unturned. You can visually see how much work you have in a given day, and by crossing off completed tasks, you can see how much work you have left at any given time. These are benefits that electronic devices and calendars do not hold up against.

The list can help you stay focused as well, knowing exactly what you have left to do is a great help. With PDAs and calendars, smaller remedial tasks do not get written down and forgotten. With the list-system, it's easy to write these tasks down and make sure they get completed.

Calendars are still very useful for scheduling meetings and conference calls. The list-system should not be used in lieu of the calendar-system, but rather alongside it. Calendars often contain small boxes for each day, so the majority of daily tasks due not get written down. You should use a calendar to schedule meetings and your lists to write down your daily chores. By utilizing both of these systems, you'll be far more organized and on top of everything you have to accomplish.

Electronic devices are handy, but entering and reviewing all of your daily tasks can be cumbersome. Your daily list should contain each and every thing that you expect to accomplish in a given day. It takes very little time to write the task down and you've created a safety-net against forgetting to complete a certain job. In addition, you can review back to your list if there's ever a question as to when or if something got done.

Don't rely on your brain to store your to-do items. It's not fool-proof and with the stressful whirlwind that sweeps in on small business owners, it's too unreliable.

You may be doing okay now, but once things start getting busier, mental notes become more and more difficult. Start out now by making daily lists part of your routine and you'll find yourself getting more done and forgetting a lot less.

Andrew Goldman is an Isenberg School of Management MBA student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has extensive experience working with small businesses on a consulting basis.

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