Have you ever woken up one morning and realized how time has just gone by and you don’t know where your days have gone?   There are so many things to do, so many books to read, so much information to digest, so many friends and business associates to stay in touch with, and you just find it so difficult to cope.
Entrepreneurs really get frustrated when they don’t have time to understand and integrate the use of information available to help them juggle the multiple tasks required of them to read, gather, organize, plan, coordinate, test, market, sell, administer, manage, innovate and to continuously develop their business.   They often find it difficult to remember where things are, what needs to be done to increase their efficiency and productivity.
They feel embarrassed and sometimes inadequate when they cannot find the important phone number they wrote down or one of the many proposals that’s buried under a mountain of papers. Sometimes they feel inadequate when they are not able to complete the task they’ve drawn out on the ‘to-do lists’ for the day. They wake up in the middle of the night, worrying about the preparation for the following day’s meeting with an important prospect, or a deadline or an oversight.
The symptoms are familiar, and many entrepreneurs are not aware that they can work with a professional ‘PEP coach’ to help them learn the skills to be more efficient and to get more organized within just 6 to 8 weeks.
We are caught in the age where information is exploding faster than most can manage through our email inboxes, periodicals which we have to read to keep us in pace with new developments, market research data to help us understand the markets and much more information from newspapers, flyers and brochures which end up in our in-trays each day. Not forgetting as well that we create more written materials through our face-to-face meetings, and phone calls too! Your once well-entrenched values of saving things, a legacy of the ‘waste not, want not’ philosophy conditioned by your parents and grandparents; the habit of keeping old magazines and reports for the ‘just in case I need them’ mentality, will add to the clutter you have.   It is natural for entrepreneurs to sometimes suffer from information anxiety and a sense of being overwhelmed by work, squeezed for time and increasingly feeling out of control. How can we accomplish so much in so little time?
When you considered taking the entrepreneurial route, you visualized the freedom of being your own boss, controlling your time, and enjoying the success and glamour.
Some of you thought that you would be well prepared once you’d attended workshops on how to be an entrepreneur. That would include business planning, financial planning, forecasting, market research and selling skills. Those who can afford the investment of time and money will perhaps attend the MBA.   None of these however, actually prepare the entrepreneurs to deal with the information explosion. None of these prepare entrepreneurs to maximize the use of technology to help themselves be more organized and to work efficiently.
Theoretically, everyone understands the need to prioritize, the need to do the important versus the urgent tasks and the need to plan.   However, we develop certain ‘habits’ which sabotage our efficiency.   We procrastinate when we have to commit that two hours to draft our Weekly Review Action Plan (WRAP™ ); we handle the same email multiple times and not get on to answering it, we get distracted with the holiday with our family we are so looking forward to.

Where do we start?

The first rule to improve personal efficiency and to get organized is to develop a ‘Do It Now’ work habit. Do It Now and Decide Now what you intend to do with that email you’ve read, the letter you’ve received from a client, the phone call you have to make.   If the task requires less than 10 minutes of your time, Do it Now! If you envisage that it will take much longer, Decide Now when you are going to attend to it and set aside a time in your calendar to do it.
Roll up your sleeves and get down to clearing the over-stuffed in-baskets and piles of unread periodicals. Get rid of the useless stuff and cancel subscriptions to periodicals you never get around to reading. “Paper is like plaque,” says Kerry Gleeson, author of the bestselling book “The Personal Efficiency Program – How to Get Organized to do More Work in less Time”. “It grows every 12 hours, and if you don’t floss, it will overwhelm you.”   A recent study shows that the average white-collar worker spends an average of six-weeks in a year looking for things. Most of the things they need are buried amidst clutter that we will never use.
Set up organizing system that works for you. That depends on your personality and your work preference.   Gleeson recommends having three trays; in, out and pending on your desk; three sets of working files; working research and archive. A well-organized system, including your electronic system, should allow you, as well as your office assistant to find things easily in your files.
Don’t try to remember everything. Remembering, thinking about and worrying about future meetings and deadlines only distracts you from what you’re doing now. Today’s technology has the features to help you set up a good reminder system, storing information which you require for that important meeting and filing them when the job is complete.
WRAP things up each week with your Weekly Review Action Plan every Friday afternoon. You can then enjoy the weekends with your family knowing that when you start your week on the following Monday, you know exactly what to do and where to begin.   In your WRAP you can set realistic time-lines to complete the Must Dos, plan meetings and allocate time for the reactive activities.
Don’t attempt to do everything yourself. Delegate tasks, creative outsourcing jobs that don’t make the best use of your talents; pay someone to handle the aspects of business that drain your time and energy. Re-routing things that can or should be handled by others can reduce your minute-stealing incoming pile.
Professional footballers and golfers, managers and Executives, CEOs and ministers – they engage these services to help them do better at work and in life. A Personal Coach.   To help you improve your personal efficiency and to get organized, work with a Coach. Why go through the hard-knocks of trial and errors, reinventing the wheel when you can pick the brains of a professional coach who has a wealth of experience to share best practices, and to coach you as you enjoy the entrepreneurial journey.
Good work behaviours must be supported by good work systems at the individual levels, as well as at organizational level.   Once entrepreneurs are assisted in such a change process, they make excellent managers who later can help their staff members develop the behaviours and systems they need to excel. Entrepreneurs who strive to achieve world class status, quality performance and improved profitability will not hesitate to develop the skills of the team to be more efficient and effective, which will impact on the organization’s bottom-line.
Now you can sleep tight, achieve work life balance, reduce stress and leverage the return from your investments in office tools and technologies to help you manage ever-increasing workloads, focus on the high return activities and increase your organization’s profitability.
Angeline V Teo is an internationally-renowned inspirational speaker, award-winning life and executive coach, and the President of PEPworldwide (Asia) PL. Angeline’s books: Extreme Excellence, Stepping Stones to Success and Discover Your Inner Strength were published in the US and co-authored with eminent leadership gurus such as Stephen Covey and Jack Canfield. Angeline is brimming with excitement to launch this month her fourth book “Where do I begin?” – an autobiography and a personal favourite. Angeline is conferred the Best Personal Brand Award 2017 from Marketing Institute of Singapore (Executive Coach category).