So how do you know when your plan is as well organized as it can be? That’s a good question. Sometimes you think you’ve got it right, but you’re still falling short of the mark. There are a couple of ways you can tell if you’re planning and organizing as smart as you could to reach your goals. Just ask yourself these two questions:
- Are you able to find precisely what you need when you need it?
- Are you able to accomplish what you have set out to do in the time frame you’ve set aside to complete it by?
If you can say “yes” to both of these questions, then you’ve probably got a pretty good method or approach already in place that works for you. If on the other hand, you’re not able to answer “yes” to both of these questions, then we know it’s probably a lack of organization that’s the culprit. Take a closer look at what’s getting in the way of how you’re organized and make a change. I think that, growing up, my fear of failing was so great that I must have developed a natural instinct for preparing things ahead of time through trial and error; I finally arrived at an approach that I divided into two categories:
WHAT I NEEDED and THE TIME I NEEDED TO DO IT.
Are things where they should be for convenient access?
Is all the background information on the project gathered neatly on your desk in a logical flow (by date or by topic)?
If your process requires several documents needing signatures, for example, are they in proper sequence?
Have you double-checked to make sure you’re not missing any key documents or steps?
Did you realistically think through the amount of time it takes to do something?
Have you scheduled the appropriate amount of time to complete your task or to meet objectives? Go through each step and determine the amount of time needed and see if the total adds up to a realistic amount of time.
Have you advised your client or colleague as to what the expectations are for this event in terms of time and outcome? Are they expecting an hour when in reality it’s going to take two or three? Get this on the table up front. Remember, no surprises.
Are the people you may need to contact during your meeting (in finance or service, for example) easily or readily accessible for input without delay? Get them on board before they’re needed so they’re ready when you call.
If you learn to “look around the corner” like this, you’ll never be surprised at what you see when you get there.
I found that this approach enabled me to always be prepared for the unexpected and allow for some flexibility, like a customer arriving a little bit late, while at the same time enabling me to do things very efficiently. The bottom line was, I was using my time most effectively. That allowed me to make the most money in the least amount of time. Now that’s what I call effective TIME MANAGEMENT.
Never stop refining your organization plan. Your goals and circumstances are continuously changing. What worked last year won’t necessarily work this year. Targets can change and move. Yours will too. Keep your eye on them at all times. You should continuously be refocusing and organizing your plan to hit those targets when they do change. As long as you plan where you’re going ahead of time, you’ll get there. If you don’t, then you’re LOST!