is organization overrated? two tips to keep you on track regardless of the clutter

by Nicole Morell of Honeybunch

Full disclosure: on the subject of time management and organization I am in no way qualified to offer advice. My business GST/HST is generally filed on the last minute of the last day it’s due. I routinely chase my kids down the street waving permission slips or mittens or lunch. And I waste an unforgivable amount of time looking for files, receipts and vendor catalogues – things that I need daily to run my business. I realized how chronic the situation was earlier this year when I lost a library copy of Eliminate Chaos: The 10 Step Process to Organize Your Home And Life (the best organizing book I’ve ever read, ironically) and had to pay $24.95 for a well-thumbed paperback that to this day has not surfaced. What can I say? Disorganization is in my DNA. Procrastination is my natural state. I’ve been that way since I was a daydreaming-missed-the-bus kid and I don’t think it’s going to change even though I now run a business, a house and a family.

Like those people who love to watch the Food Network but who don’t actually cook, I have an attraction to the trappings of an orderly and well-managed life. I would rather shop for daytimers, calendars, digital tools, notebooks, pretty to-do list pads, lovely pens, bunny-shaped paper clips, and Rubbermaid bins than shoes. Indeed I have bought it all. Some stuff worked but most didn’t. I have reluctantly come to accept that my desire to run a smooth operation is just one more thing that I kind of admire but have no real intention of mastering. Like baking my own bread or figuring out Quick Books. My methods may not be business school-approved but I do manage to get things done in my own way. I’ve never analyzed it (indeed, writing this post is  as much analysis as I’ve ever given it) but I suppose I could boil my approach down to one central business practice and one guiding principle. I find that as long as I keep these two things front of mind then I am taking care of business.

1. A Map Is All I Need: The Essential Marketing Calendar

As a retail business owner I have to plan ahead three to six months. This means buying, advertising, editorial, budgets and sales forecasts. It is no good to sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and notepad as the first snow flies and contemplate how I am going to drum up holiday business. Neither should I order sand pails and watering cans in June. My calendar follows a traditional quarterly schedule, so it is straightforward for me to plan what products I need to have and when I need to have them. From there it’s simple to plot out events, newsletter themes, advertising plans and editorial pushes for the quarter and then the year.  Your business might be dictated by a key trade show, wholesale buying season or some other factor, but the point is, a marketing calendar is a good discipline for keeping the big picture in mind. My calendar forces me to spend time working “on” my business ( planning, strategizing, analysis) when much of my day is spent working “in” my business (answering emails, phone calls, shipping orders, updating the website).

2. Right now, am I doing what I should be doing?

My seven-year old daughter will finish breakfast, wander down to her room to get dressed for school and while navigating those 30 or so steps she might stop in front of a mirror and make silly faces at herself. Which leads to the discovery of a loose tooth. Which prompts her to make sure there are no apples in her lunchbox. And while unpacking her lunch she discovers there is butter on the sandwich bread and she didn’t want butter today. Oh, and can she bring popcorn to share with the class? And now ten minutes have passed and she is no closer to getting dressed. I occasionally get sucked into her digressions, but I will try catch myself and ask “Stella, is this what you should be doing right now?” It’s usually enough to get her back to the task at hand. Working from home can be incredibly distracting and with precious few quiet hours during the school day I need to frequently check in with myself by asking “Is this what I should be doing?” It forces me to be mindful and purposeful with my time.

And that’s it folks. I roll with the punches. I get stuff done some days and next to nothing on others. Since making the decision to close my brick and mortar shop to focus on the online business, I’ve greeted each day with fresh coffee, my laptop and a good dose of gratitude that I am able to choose how I spend my day. It’s pretty great, but messy.

  • http://www.polkadotfrogkids.ca Tracey

    What a fantastic post! I absolutely LOVE it! As I read, I kept saying “this is me!” It’s refreshing to be reminded that I’m not the only one who struggles to be organized and get everything done to perfection! I think if we all had just a few hours a day where “life” could just pause so we could check off a few of the to-do’s off the list, all would be much better!

  • http://www.jeezvanilla.com/blog Adriana

    Thank you so much for this inspiring and refreshing post! I have recently started running my own business, and together with all the start up headaches I have to add to them my lack of organization and my hideous tendency to procrastination. I’ve read about a thousand blogs that tell you how simple it is to get organized, but nothing seems to work for me. Somehow though, I do get things done (even if my messy methods wrinkle a few brows) so it is lovely to see I’m not alone in the mess! Thanks again!

  • http://www.nurtured.ca April

    THANK YOU. I am much like you, and while I seem to thrive in the chaos, I yearn for the perfection of magazine studios, offices, and homes.

    While there are 1001 methods for organization, 99% of organization is maintenance, and right now, maintenance time is at a premium for me, but I do try.

    Which reminds me, my first order of business this morning was to clean my desk.

    And yay for last minute GST filing, I do the same!

  • http://www.FastMarketingPlan.com Sandy Barris

    Wow, I love your ideas on planning and organization, each one is right on the money.

    And you are so right on about it being no good to sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and notepad as the first snow flies and contemplate how I am going to drum up holiday business.

    Keep delivering great ideas, sharing them to help us all out.

    By the way, If it’s okay with you i’d like to share a link to a website created to help make a marketing plan and marketing calendar very fast.

    Check it out and if you feel it’s worthy of your readers please let them know about it.

    Here’s a brief description:
    Fast Marketing Plan provides any business owner, executive or manager a simple, fast, easy and affordable online marketing and business management tool to create unlimited and complete Marketing Plans, Marketing Calendars and Marketing Action Tactics for use by almost any type and size of business. Including Monday Morning Reminder e-mail of all upcoming marketing tactics t scheduled for the week.

    Dedicated To Increasing Your Marketing Response
    Sandy Barris
    Fast Marketing Plan
    http://www.FastMarketingPlan.com

  • http://www.pipnmilly.com Fiona Ballard

    Lovely post, refreshingly honest and a good reminder that you don’t have to be perfect to get things done.
    I am generally pretty organized, as I have to be in my little space, but when I am working on a piece, the studio rapidly gets messy. The floor is covered in bits of fabric and thread, the pattern pieces are spread out, camera, notepad, pen and Stargate DVDs are all over the desk, but I still manage to get things done. My ‘biggest’ concern is that a client might come over before I have a chance to move the children’s toys and fort from the living room, which is en-route to the studio!

  • http://honey-bunch.com nicole

    Thank you for the supportive comments!

    It is so nice to meet a few kindred spirits. A few months ago Sarah asked us to send in photos of our workspaces to share on the blog. I laughed until I cried.

    Nicole

  • http://www.anothernewseason.com Donna S

    First – the photos in your post make me want to drop everything and color code my fabrics! I am always wanting to be organized, striving for perfection in that area, however, sometimes I spend too much time trying to get organized that I don’t spend the time doing what I love.

    I still love to organize things and will keep trying but I need to know when to let it go and just DO the work.

    Thanks for the reminder about having a marketing calendar… I need to get on that!

  • ThisOldPMQ

    As a WAHMmie myself, I can appreciate organized chaos. The older, more ‘corporate’ me loved the absolute fastidiousness that only a single girl with OCD can indulge in…
    but as a mom, I’m learning to refocus and appreciate how much of what I’m being sold is lovely photography of a life NOBODY leads, as opposed to the slightly messier but ultimately happier version that most of the women here surely enjoy.
    Thank you for a look into your life and routine, and letting us know it can be done (and that bunny clips are perfectly acceptable things to purchase!).