Are you looking for a magic method of organization for 2017? Sadly, there’s no pill to take or elixir to drink but we do have a few best planning tips for bringing more organization to your life and business.
This is your year! The year you will be ahead of everything and the poster person for organization. You just know it. You can feel it. But with a stable full of clients and events scheduled out for as far as you can see, how are you ever going to get there? Here are some best practices when it comes to getting organized.
Make Lists Your Best Friend
A checklist is the easiest way to stay organized. Take some time to create a basic checklist for every area of your business. For instance, create a venue review checklist so you don’t have to recreate the wheel each time. Whether you are a paper person or a techie, there a number of different ways you can create your lists. Paper people can create them in word-processing software and print them off so they can be checked off. For people who like to do everything by phone, tablet, or PC, there are a number of good apps out there (like Wunderlist). Some people also like to create lists on whiteboards because they derive pleasure out of erasing the task when it’s completed. The one downside to this is that you have no record of completing it because it’s gone.
Make Use of the Calendar on your Phone
All smartphones come with calendar access. The beauty of putting all of your information onto your mobile calendar is that most of us have our phones with us at all times. They’ll sync to your computer and your tablet so you’re always looking at real-time appointments. You can set reminders for appointments as well as to-do lists. If you use an e-calendar you can also use the overlays that let you track different facets of your life (personal and professional on the same calendar) or different clients. You can color code them for quick differentiation as well.
Always Have a Spare Set of Keys
While this doesn’t seem much like an organizational tip, getting locked out of your car, home, or office is the surest way to get off schedule. It is difficult to stay organized when you’re working behind the eight ball. So any time-saving tips you can muster, like having a spare set of keys should you get locked out, will keep you on track.
Schedule Time For You
If you’re making lists and using your calendar, you need to make sure that you set those important appointments for yourself on your calendar. For instance, if you are one of those people who doesn’t feel right if they don’t work out every day, then you need to set time in the gym on your calendar. If it’s on your calendar it will be official. If you just try to squeeze it in, it will not take priority.
Keep a List of “Some Day” Activities
In addition to staying organized in all of your events and client communication, if you are in business for yourself you probably have business goals you’d like to get accomplished in 2017. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, we all have downtime. From moments that you’re waiting for a client to show up to cancellations you didn’t expect, those stolen moments can be used if you have an idea of what you want to do with them. Since you don’t know when they’re going to happen, it’s important you keep a list of things you want to do “some day.” They can be small activities that take five minutes or they can be large planning sessions. Having activities that take up different amounts of time is perfect for stolen moments. The next time you have a minute you weren’t expecting, like a client texting you and telling you they’re running behind, you’ll have your activity list you can pull out and make use of that time instead of just scrolling through your Facebook feed.
Create an Expectations Document for your Vendors
Whether you choose to have your vendors sign off on an expectations document or you simply use bullet points from the document when you’re having an initial conversation with them, it’s important to make sure that all of your vendors you’re working with understand your expectations from the beginning. When you’re auditioning several vendors at once, when you’re stressed out, when you’re extremely busy, all of these things leave you wondering what you told one vendor and what you told another. If you have a list or reference sheet you know that every initial consultation will be similar in what you convey to them. This will save you a lot of questions about whether you were clear on your expectations.
Go to the Cloud
If you’ve been considering going paperless in your business, you need to take it to the cloud either permanently or by using periodic, automatic backups with a product like Carbonite. Cloud storage ensures that all of your files are backed up and independent of the device. If your computer crashes, you needn’t worry about losing all of your data. However, even if you decide you’re not ready for the cloud it is of the utmost importance that you take cyber security seriously. Nothing messes with your organizational skills more than cybercrime.
Always Have a “Notepad”
Again whether you’re a paper person or you prefer apps, an organized person will always have something within hands reach to record thoughts, ideas, and things they need to check on. As much as this may annoy your significant other, you need something to record your thoughts even if those thoughts come in the middle of the night. Some people prefer a notepad, while some people use the notepad on their phone. Some people even use apps like Google Keep. Select something you’ll feel comfortable using because if you have to force yourself to use it, and you hate using it, you’ll eventually tire of it, and give it up.
Use a Read Later App
If professional development is a major priority for you in 2017, one of the best things you can do to organize your life and your professional development is to use a read later app. There are many out there and these simple apps virtually “clip” articles for you to read later. How many times do you find something while you’re surfing the Internet, don’t have the time to read it at that moment, leave the tab open on your laptop, and then when you go back to read it the tab has closed and you can’t remember the details of where to find the article? These read later apps often have the ability to make the materials available off-line too. That can come in very handy during stolen moments as you travel.
Get More Sleep
It is impossible to remain organized when you are extremely sleep deprived. If you’ve ever had a string of weeks where you get very little sleep because of your event calendar, you probably noticed yourself making silly mistakes. Hopefully, those mistakes didn’t negatively impact your business. But if you’re functioning on less than five hours of sleep a night repeatedly you can expect that your mind is not operating at full capacity. If you want to make organization a top priority in 2017, you need to also make sleep a priority.
If you are trying to get more organized in your life and event planning business in 2017, you need to slow down and do a little preparation work. Once you have the framework in place, it’s easy to build the structure around it. Structure will keep things running smoothly and will give you a great sense of organization and pride. Even the most talented event planner will benefit from these tips for a more organized year ahead. Let us know how your organizational planning is going in the comments below.