Organization & Time Management for Entrepreneurs

The ELEN chapter of ABWA in Alpharetta recently invited me to speak about organizing and time management for entrepreneurs at their monthly luncheon. We had an excellent time networking with the members of this group and wanted to share some of the tips we gave in our presentation. In order to manage the variety of daily obligations that entrepreneurs face, we recommended focusing on four organizational areas:

Routines & Task Management:

The importance of routine in your daily, weekly, and yearly lives cannot be underestimated. We recommend, taking a look at the things your business requires of you on a regular basis and then begin to set up routines that will allow you to accomplish each task in the most efficient way. You should also schedule time to prepare for upcoming days and weeks. Sunday evening is a great time for this on a weekly basis. Below are a couple additional tips for integrating routines into your life.

  • Prioritization: Decide what the top 3 things need to happen each day and commit to getting them done.
  • Requests for info/action from others should happen in the morning
  • Batching: Group tasks into categories when making your to-do list (phone calls, emails, physical tasks, meetings, professional tasks, personal tasks, etc.)

Managing Email, Calls & Interruptions:

Dealing with the daily influx of demands for an entrepreneur can be difficult. In order to achieve the greatest efficiency, we recommend telling others what style of communication you prefer. For example, if you are best on email, tell employees and others that they should reach you in that manner. This way you will not be bombarded with phone calls or in-person drop-bys that drain you of time. A few more tips are below.

  • Email Inbox: Use for items that need current action. File all other emails in well-labeled folders immediately upon receipt. Review and clean out folders weekly.
  • Closed-Door Time: Schedule time each day when you will silence the phone, close the office door, and turn off email, so that you can finish necessary tasks

Paper Management:

This is the most common concern among entrepreneurs. Managing the necessary, and not so necessary, paper that comes into the business can quickly become unmanageable. We’ve outlined our best tips for keeping the paper under control below.

  • Filing: Use well-labeled files (physical or digital) and commit to reviewing the contents once per quarter. Shred, toss, or recycle unnecessary items or things that haven’t been needed in 1+ years. Google ‘Suze Orman what to keep documents’ for a list of must keep financial docs with timelines.
  • Expenses: Keep track of receipts for business with an app like Expensify or a desk scanner like NeatDesk.
  • Go Paperless: Attempt to eliminate all paper from your life by scanning, opting out of paper statements/mail, and not printing. Digital records are easier to search, permanent (if stored safely), and require less space.

Needing Assistance: (Personal Assistance, Professional Assistance, and/or C-Level)

A final issue that we commonly see with entrepreneurs in not knowing when to get help. Whether it’s an assistant, an employee, or even a C-level adviser it is important to bring on assistance if it will help your business grow or efficiently maintain. If you are dealing with one of the below issues, it probably means you could use some help.

1) Your work/life balance is suffering

2) You’re in over your head

3) You’re doing tasks poorly and taking more time than the job should require because it is not your expertise

4) You’re doing tasks that are below your level when you could be focusing on more important things.


We hope these tips for entrepreneurs are helpful and would love to hear your favorite organizational ideas for people with their own businesses.


Sentimental Clutter: How to Manage, Store, and Let Go

Photos, kids’ artwork, and cards are all examples of items that can build up in numbers to the point that much of your storage space is dedicated to their housing. While these items can be physical representations of treasured memories, they are in their essence just sentimental clutter. Whether this clutter is inherited or created over the years, with a few basic rules you can keep things under control.

Choose One, Not Many
When working with clients, we often come upon large collections of cards, ticket stubs, and letters. For this type of excess clutter, we recommend selecting one or two (depending on your collection’s size) particularly meaningful items to keep and toss the rest. For example, if you have 100’s of cards from birthdays, anniversaries, etc., toss the ones that are simply signed or auto-generated (digital Christmas cards) and keep those that have thoughtful inscriptions. When you have occasion to receive new cards, keep this process in mind before adding the new ones to storage.

Gift & Donate
The inheritance of family heirlooms or estate items can sometimes cause recipients to feel guilty about the misfit of the item into their current life, space, or style. Instead of accepting the item only to dread its storage, consider offering it to another family member who may treasure it more. If it’s not wanted by anyone else, a charity donation may allow the item to be of use to someone in need. Think of this not as a dishonor to the item’s gifter, but a blessing for the new recipient.

Over time, many sentimental items, such as photos and journals, can start to deteriorate. While having the original may be ideal, creating a digital image or copy is definitely better for long-term preservation and clutter-free storage. Services like will turn hard-copy photos into digital files, traditional scanners are great for uploading paper documents, and your digital camera can capture the image of things like kids stuffed animals and other delicate items.

If your ideal space for storing sentimental clutter is in a box, in the back of the basement, it probably isn’t as important to you than you think. If this sounds familiar, dedicate some time to sort through the items. Choose those that are actually meaningful and find a spot for them on display or a use for them in your daily life. The rest can be donated, sold, gifted, or tossed. If you would like to store some items in a box, make sure it is waterproof, sealed, and limited in size. In order to not grow beyond the chosen size box, maintain a strategy of removing one item before adding a new one.

Dealing with sentimental clutter can be emotionally exhausting. As a general rule of thumb, we suggest taking small amounts of time to sort and make decisions, so as not to overwhelm yourself. Having a friend or someone who is not emotionally invested in the items help can ensure that final decisions are rational. They can also be excellent at handling the business side of things (selling/donating), which can be especially taxing.

Good Luck!

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