“Leaders who can’t organise, over time vaporize.”
Ever feel like you're losing your grip on your time? I do. I once missed my flight back to England from Australia because I wasn't organised. I recall being on the phone with my wife Louise giving her my flight details so she could pick me up the next day. Whilst on the call she was checking the airline and said, "This flight is already in the air!" I had to eat humble pie, rush to the airport and beg the help desk for a seat on the next available flight because I didn't want to pay any extra fees. It was an extremely embarrassing experience that could have been avoided if I had been more organised.
Experiencing episodes throughout my life like this, I've learnt the hard lesson that a disorganised life is costly, not only to my wallet but also to my leadership. This is why every now and then I stop, take a moment, and recalibrate my life so I can get back in control of my schedule and get the best from every minute of every day. I now know that if you want to lead well in life, then you must get organised. People, money, studies, deadlines and, ultimately, success can all hinge on whether you're an organised or disorganised leader. Excuses - I've heard them all, from "I'm just too busy to take the time to get organised" to "that's just the way I am" and none of them cut it in the world of leadership. Simply put, I believe if you can't get organised, you won't become an effective leader.
The great news is that everyone can become more organised - yes everyone!
Part 1 - Finding your rhythm
I’ve built into my life a rhythm to my typical week. There’s no guarantee this will always happen and weeks change according to things happening beyond my control, but I’ve found that theming each day is essential for me to keep my focus. In reality, it’s often difficult as distractions can come from every angle! A big benefit to having a weekly rhythm is that you will be less likely to put off the things you need to get done as everything has its place in your weekly rhythm regardless of how exciting or dull the task is.
What does your week look like?
Think about your week then write down what you usually do each day, including any hobbies, deadlines, studies or appointments.
Discuss your week with your friend or mentor and seek advice on how you could become more organised.
Talking points could include;
When is the best time in my week to relax?
Are there any days that I feel more pressure than others and why is that?
What one thing could I do to ease the pressure on a particular day?
What could I do less of that’s unhelpful in my week?
What should I be doing more of and when?
What is really preventing me from being more organised?
What one thing can I do today that will help me be more organised?
What is my biggest distraction?
Part 2 - Getting things done!
Do you procrastinate? The definition of procrastination is, “the action of delaying or postponing something.” Have you been in a position where you had to get something done but never got started?
If this is the case for you, some might say that you put the 'pro' in procrastination. There are a lot of reasons people delay or put off what they know they ought to do. The four most common reasons people procrastinate are indecision, perfectionism, fear, and laziness. If any of these reasons sound familiar to you, don’t worry! I have the perfect prescription for your procrastination that will help build value into your leadership journey.
Let’s get started
1. Start with Yourself
It's so easy to feel inadequate or unqualified for the task ahead. Stop comparing yourself to those around you and begin believing you are the right person at the right time. Get moving, get organised, and start with yourself.
Question: What is it about YOU that is stopping YOU making progress? And what can you do about it?
2. Start Where You Are
Admit to where you are right now even if you feel like life is a disorganised, hectic mess. Imagine turning on the Sat Nav in your car for the journey ahead. Have you noticed that it will first try to find your current location? Here’s the truth: you can only reach your future destination if you know your current location. What is your current location? We often don't want to face up to our current circumstances because we feel inadequate or embarrassed, but we have to be honest with ourselves if we ever want to get started. You've got to start somewhere, so get organised and start with where you are today.
Question: You may not be where you want to be but are you ready to try to get started? If not why?
3. Start with One Goal Not Many
There are a lot of people aiming high, but few that have a specific goal in mind. Narrow down what you're trying to achieve and stop worrying about doing everything at once. Do one thing at a time and follow these simple steps.
A - Identify Your Goal:
Question: What one thing are you trying to achieve this year?
Climbing a mountain often gets much easier once you have picked the mountain. Stop procrastinating and decide what one goal you're trying to hit this year.
B - Formulate Your Goal into a Number:
Question: What’s your number?
A number removes grey areas and brings clarity, so you can take aim and know if you’ve hit it!
C - Keep Your Goal in Sight (literally):
Question: Where will you display your goal?
Keeping your goal in plain sight will help you to be accountable. Stick it on your bedroom wall so you can see it, add it to the welcome screen on your smart phone, or even better, send it in a text to a trusted friend or mentor.
4. Start Before You’re Ready
The truth is that you'll never be completely ready but you’ll be surprised how much momentum you can build by simply getting going. It may not be what you're used to but why not try jumping and building your wings on the way down!
Question: Can you accept that sometimes you need to start even when you’re not ready? If so, then get going!
Discuss your goal with your friend or mentor.
Talking points could include;
What is stopping you achieve your goal?
What one thing can you do this week to help you achieve your goal?
Why do you think people procrastinate?
What advice would you give a procrastinator?
Part 3 - Final thoughts
To finish off this topic, take a few moments to answer the following;
What one thing stood out most to you during this lesson?
Consider one way this has helped you become a better leader?