Christopher Davenport, MBA, is its founder/CEO Autoparts4Less (OTCBQ:FLES), a global online marketplace for parts for all types of vehicles.
Every day, if you’re a CEO like me, there are countless things that need to be done and there never seems to be enough time to do it all. One of the main problems facing many businesses these days, especially now in these rather different times, is organization. It’s not like it used to be when you could rely on your memory, your diary or your trusty notebook at your desk. We live in an incredibly fast world now. we cannot stop looking around as much as we like, and things must be done as soon as possible and as well as possible.
To that end, I’d like to show my fellow CEOs some of the things I do to prevent chaos and keep my own business strong.
1. Representative. You don’t have to do them all and it would be foolish to try. Even if you have to hire third parties or outside contractors for a fee, it’s always a good idea to let others handle the work you need to do that doesn’t require your full attention. So start by making a list of all your tasks, on a daily and weekly basis, find out what you could be doing for others and free up the extra time for things like important meetings or more family time.
2. Build strong, working relationships with others. I can’t say enough how important it is to maintain good relationships. This goes along the lines of “don’t do it all yourself,” because the networking you do now will definitely help you outsource when the time comes. Make new connections whenever you can, in whatever field you want, even before you need them. You never know when someone might be important to your continued success.
3. Use lists. Sometimes the simplest things we’ve done for hundreds and thousands of years still work. You have a smartphone, computer, tablet, or even that old pen and notebook waiting, right? Make a list of things you need to do and, as motivation, put a percentage next to each one to indicate how far you are from completing them. Keep the list with you at all times so you can refer to it. Don’t see it as an anchor around your neck, but as a true positive sense of accomplishment as each task is completed. A really big benefit of making a list is also allowing you to see what you could delegate to other people.
4. Keep your diary up to date. Appointments, activities, meetings, personal and business reminders, even spur-of-the-moment ideas need to be recorded somehow. Be sure to sync your calendar with all your electronic devices, in case you forget your smartphone but have your tablet, for example. Using Google Calendar with associated calendars in different colors to indicate important events is a great option—and it’s free! Another great advantage is that you can record certain tasks you have assigned along with their due dates and see how things are going from time to time.
5. When delegating, set written goals and priorities. When delegating to others, you need to prioritize what needs to be done and when it needs to be completed. As long as you’re not doing the work yourself, check in periodically to determine progress or if help is needed. Although Google Calendar will help you with this, because others can edit the calendar if you wish, to stay informed, you should always try to join a short meeting to see how things are going.
6. Do the worst first. Assign the worst or most time-consuming, mundane projects first and be available to help complete them. Then, to be fair and not make your employee or assistant angry with you, assign them one of the best, most worthwhile projects. For example, write the weekly report before starting a new, exciting social media project. Doing the worst first makes the boring stuff go away and other tasks go faster and be more enjoyable.
7. Organize. Whether it’s your office or a huge warehouse, organization is one of the biggest keys to success in business. Don’t look at the organization just for you. You may have a crew of people under you or a large management team. The best way to find a system that works for everyone is to have a quick meeting and talk it out, then stick to it.
8. Be better. Whether you need a better computer, updated software, a second phone line, or even a more attractive website, if these improvements will effectively make your job easier and your business more productive, make them happen. Sure, it might cost a little, but in the long run, you’ll save money and time.
9. Learn to say “no.” There’s nothing wrong with being generous, and frankly, I wish more CEOs were. But if you take it too far, it can snowball and you end up working twice as hard while simultaneously giving your staff apocalyptic crises. There is nothing wrong with not having enough time to do everything, but there is if you try to find time you don’t have. Only say yes when the request fits your priorities. Make sure the people you assign jobs to can also politely decline if their workload is too much.
10. Just do it! Stop reading this article now and start. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I’ll make it” or “It’s on my calendar.” You have a job to do, whether it’s sifting through thousands of emails, organizing a utility closet, or writing a speech. Forget everything else and start. Success does not come to procrastinators.