The other day, my 16-year-old daughter told me I had better be organized if I was working to help other people be more organized. Teenagers can be so to the point! Her comment started me thinking about how some of the strategies I use to structure my coaching business might be helpful to others. Whether we have ADHD or not, there seem to be specific areas that consistently need organizational attention lest they turn into unmanageable chaos. Three areas I found important are taking the time to plan, having a paper management system and thirdly, writing things down.
Having “time” to organize is important. I set aside 30 minutes at the start of my day to review my schedule and look at what my priorities are for the day. I then answer any emails or listen to any voice mails I have and basically familiarize myself with the plan for the day. One technique I have found extremely useful is actually printing off a copy of my week from Outlook onto a brightly colored piece of paper that becomes my “flexible” copy. I can make changes to this paper, place temporary post-it notes on it, cross off completed tasks, add new ones or shift “to dos” as they arise during the week. The bright color paper makes it easy to find among the other documents on my workspace. As a nurse we used a similar system to plan our shift, record important details and called it our “brains”. I continue to find this tool extremely useful.
For managing paperwork, I have a small file drawer near my desk. Most often this “drawer” is open so I can easily see its contents. Having quick access to frequently used documents and a place to hold information for ongoing projects is extremely helpful in keeping me organized. These files are arranged in my own way. Those “files” I use most are towards the front, those I access the least are in the back. Having this simple filing system helps to eliminate papers from piling up on my desk and allows me to maintain a sense of order until I can go back and sort through files/papers at a later date.
Finally, even though I consider myself a very organized person with most of my memory still intact, I have found I benefit from having a way to write down and keep track of client details between sessions. With busy days and weeks full of so many interesting people, I would feel bad when I couldn’t remember the details of a particular client’s progress. In order to jog my memory, I keep a “chart” for each client in which I have a simple form that can be quickly filled out to record essential details. Before out next session, I can quickly review our previous session and easily dispose of the notes when our coaching relationship ends.
One of my most important insights I have had about organizing is that it must be an ongoing process. I truly believe that the natural order of our world is chaos and even though I might be cosmically fighting a losing war, I am determined to win a few battles!!