Unfortunately as leaders, it’s easy to allow messes to control us. It might start out as forgetting to do a task or two, but, if you let it, it can become a much bigger issue. Whether it’s letting our inbox pile up with hundreds of RSS blog feeds (guilty as charged), or forgetting about an appointment because we never added it to our calendar, a lot of things can slip under our watch unless we stay on top of it. It’s only recently that I’ve started developing and practicing systems to keep my life organized and it’s made a world of a difference. Maybe you already have said systems in place, but in case you don’t, here are five things you can do right now to start bringing order and organization into your life:
1. Schedule a time to get your life in order.
I actually created an alarm on my phone to go off at a certain time each day to check my email and respond to anything I missed. I have another alarm that tells me to check the office voicemail messages at the end of each day. You get the idea. Even if it’s just once a week, carve out 10 minutes to do some catching up on anything that could take your focus off of the task at hand.
2. Lists, lists, lists.
Make lists for EVERYTHING. Keep a list for groceries you need to pick up on your next shopping trip, and if you run out of something, take a second to write it on that list at that moment. If an idea for an event or creative element pops into your head, write it down so you remember to bring it up at your next planning meeting. Make a list of things to do for the week and cross off each tasks as it’s completed. List making = sanity. I have at least three lists on and around my desk at this moment.... You can never be too careful.
3. Add it to your calendar.
Just like list making, writing reminders and events on a calendar or in a planner will keep you sane. I keep both a paper planner and a digital calendar on my phone. In my planner, I make a list of what needs to get done that week, then assign each task to a day. That way, I know exactly what to expect and what deadlines I’ve set for myself. I use the Sunrise Calendar app on my phone to keep important personal and work-related dates with me at all times. Whenever a new appointment or task comes up, I put it in my phone right away and then set a reminder for 30 minutes before the appointment.
4. Only touch it once! '
I recently read about the “one-touch” method, where you deal with something right away. Basically, an item should only be “touched” once, and that is the only time you deal with it. For example, when you open an email, that’s one touch, so you need to either respond or delete it right away. Don’t navigate away from it, or you’ll have to touch it a second time. In the same way, when you come home from work, use the one-touch method for your jacket and hang it up instead of leaving it on a chair. Take care of clutter before it happens.
Take a look at your lists and calendar and if you find that there's not enough time to get everything done, make a system to prioritize your tasks. Assign each task or appointment as a 1, 2, or 3. 1 means it needs to be completed in 24 hours, 2 means it needs to be completed in the next week, and 3 means it can be completed in the next month or the deadline is undetermined. This way, you can figure out what is urgent and what can be done at a later time. And if you need to or are able to, cancel any evening plans and spend the night in to give yourself a mental break. Never underestimate the power of "me time".
A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh, said, “Organization is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it’s not all mixed up.” Don’t mix up your priorities because of disorganization. Put the time in now to create systems in bringing order from chaos. Creating order in your life will bring you mental clarity so that you can focus on what’s really important to you and your team.
Isha Duffy serves as the Communications & Data Director at Next Level Church. Her responsibilities include managing NLC's social media accounts, coordinating central events, and overseeing NLC's assimilation processes. Isha graduated from Cairn University in Langhorne, PA with her B.S. in Bible and a minor in Music. Isha and her husband, Josh, currently live in Rochester, NH and enjoy hiking, disc golfing, and being outdoors.