Many answering the above question may say “no I’m just extremely busy all the time”, while others will admit to conducting their working days amidst general chaos and a constant battle to get everything done.

Self awareness is important here: you may be confusing ‘being busy’ with expending needless time on low priority tasks, unfocused activity or flitting from one thing to the other with no real prioritization taking place.

Unorganized behavior will take its toll

Being unorganized will have a detrimental effect on business; for example, not properly taking time to harness valuable data being harvested by your POS (Point of Sale) tech means you’re missing out on opportunities to serve your market better and create more revenue.

Missing deadlines is obviously a business killer and customers will leave you in droves if you’re guilty of this, so if unorganized work patterns are the cause they need correcting.

Being a good time manager can make a big difference to your day to day efficiency.

Signs of disorganization

Look for the following and try and ‘course correct’ to form better working habits:

Half-finished tasks – do you flit from one unrelated task the next? Does an incoming email or IM cause you to drop what you were doing and react?

If so, batch tasking and focusing on tasks in hand by switching off email and phones for a while could help.

Batch tasking involves taking similar or related tasks and doing them in one hit. For example, working on a report, reviewing finances or certain marketing tasks such as writing an email sequence should be done together to the exclusion all else.

Easily deflected – it’s easy to get deflected away onto another project when an email hits your inbox or a text message comes in and you instinctively read it and react to it.

You don’t have to be available all day long to answer emails and phone messages: many aren’t that urgent that they require an instant response. Perhaps having designated periods to read and deal with emails and phone messages each day while the rest of the time you focus on your tasks at hand will help you stay on track to see work activities through.

Poor prioritizing – the basic ‘to do’ list is important but be selective: having one massive list means nothing gets prioritized and a degree of overwhelm can set in when you see how much there is to tackle.

Instead, have a limit of say half a dozen tasks that must be completed that day, and only add other ‘to dos’ to it when existing ones are all completed.

Poor punctuality – being late for meetings and not returning calls or replying to emails by an agreed time or date is a bad habit to get into.

It lowers your respect levels amongst others and shows them you disrespect their time. Forgetting meetings and other time bound commitments means you’re not scheduling properly, so do tackle this.

Poor scheduling – ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ is something of a cliché perhaps but is also very true: planning your time properly with appointments and commitments recorded is a basic way to schedule yourself properly and ensure designated tasks are completed promptly.

An electronic calendar with reminders set is a basic way to organize your day along with a resolve not to get deflected by incoming emails or phone messages. Indeed, time to deal with these can be scheduled in.

Poor planning – tied in with basic scheduling above, but planning is important in a general sense and is a valuable activity so as to map out activities and time plan properly for larger projects.

Some feel guilty about planning as if it’s not a good use of time, but it certainly is – planning is very much ‘doing’ and certainly saves time, effort and confusion further down the line.

Less is more

In general, a key way to avoid being unorganized is not trying to bite off more than you can chew. Take a few high priority tasks and see them through to completion rather than trying to tackle several things at once.