Let’s face it, America is overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with managing our households, raising our kids, working full time jobs and running businesses, all the while trying to find some fun time with friends and family, not to mention taking care of our health and getting our spiritual fill.
Add to that having to manage paperwork, emails and tasks and you gotta wonder how any of us are finding time for sleep. It’s no wonder why stress and insomnia levels are higher than ever. We need a freggin break.
I’ve noticed in my own life and especially in my business life that if any one of these activities aren’t attended to on a frequent basis it causes me to feel out of control, buried and paralyzed with indecision of what to handle first to clear everything up and get back to balance.
Being someone who places a very high value on being in control of my environment and workload, I’ve discovered the key to not letting things get too far out of my control is procedures. Although I still have a propensity for feeling stressed out when I haven’t been keeping up with things, I don’t stress out as much knowing that I can easily and quickly get back to balance when I take the time to do so.
Businessdictionary.com defines procedures as a fixed, step-by-step sequence of activities or course of action (with definite start and end points) that must be followed in the same order to correctly perform a task.
Having well defined procedures that dictate how you handle your activities from money management to entering client data can make the difference between an activity taking minutes versus hours. Not only do procedures make getting through your work and personal life easier and faster but they can also help bring peace of mind knowing there is a way to get back in control when you are able to focus on doing so.
Not having procedures in place can lead to clutter. Why does this happen? It happens because having a lack of procedures creates uncertainty. This can interfere with the ability to make a decision for fear of potentially making the wrong one. Then you’ll probably hear you saying to yourself “I’ll just put it here for now” or “I’ll get to this later.” Next thing you know, you have a stack of filing that seems like it will take weeks to get through. All because you don’t have a procedural approach in place to stay on top of it. Or your bills are piling up and overdue which probably happened because you didn’t create a series of steps to manage the bill through the process of receiving, paying and filing it.
So the next question you may be asking is what procedures do I use? My answer to that is that it’s not what procedures you use that matters the most as it is use SOMETHING and stay CONSISTENT with it till it’s an ingrained behavior. You can then customize it further from there. You know how the saying goes. It takes 21 days to develop a habit. Go with that. To make 21 days seem less scary, try dividing it into 3 parts which is a week at a time. If you make it through the first week then shoot for the second and then the third until there is no question how you handle the activity.
There are many different applications, tools, strategies and techniques out there that either provide you with procedures or help you create your own to manage your activities. However, if you can’t perform the basic steps of the procedure like putting all your paperwork in the same place then how are you suppose to easily perform the other steps involved with setting up that awesome filing system like Paper Tiger you’ve been dreaming about?
My challenge to you is pick an activity and think of three steps you need to do to complete that activity. Do those three steps consistently for 21 days and then check in with yourself to see how much more efficient you have become at managing that activity. Better yet why don’t you leave a comment on this blog and share your experience with others.