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7 simple steps to organize your day

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Always feeling rushed and working late to get everything done? Welcome to the life of most entrepreneurs. Getting better organized can help you avoid mistakes, make you look more professional and ripple through your business, motivating employees.

A few simple steps can help you better organize your day, simplify your life and bring the chaos under a little control.

“Most entrepreneurs have a hard time managing their calendar,” says BDC Senior Business Advisor Rony Israel, who coaches entrepreneurs on leadership skills. “But you are a role model for your team. If your employees perceive you to be well organized, it will have an effect in your organization and make everyone more productive.”

Follow these seven steps from Israel to organize your day.

1) Build in buffer time—Don’t pack your schedule with back-to-back meetings and appointments. It’s inevitable that some activities will go overtime or that you’ll have to answer an urgent email or call. This means you’ll often be running late, and your employees are likely to start doing the same.

“Being constantly late shows disrespect for other people’s time and is unprofessional,” Israel says.

Instead, build in buffer time in your schedule between events. For example, add 15 minutes before meetings for informal chit-chat or set-up time, plus 15 minutes after in case the discussion goes long or you need to grab a drink of water, take a call or go to the bathroom.

2) Detach from emails and calls—Don’t be a slave to calls and emails. Constantly answering them through the day is highly disruptive to your focus. Instead, consider scheduling specific times in your day to return messages—for example, an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.

3) Get strategic—Your schedule shouldn’t include business meetings your employees can handle without you. Trust your people to handle such meetings. “If you’re involved in routine decisions, you’re wasting your time,” Israel says.

Your attention should be on the bigger picture—strategic questions, client or personnel issues, product development and the like. “Your day should be structured so you have time to reflect, plan and learn,” Israel says.

4) Thank an employee—Make time each day to thank an employee who has made an especially valuable contribution to the business. The recognition should be informal, but be sure to deliver it in person and in front of other people.

5) Meet clients—Your schedule should include at least one in-person or phone meeting with a client each day. You should also regularly schedule meetings with your partners, including your accountant, lawyer, people who refer potential customers and suppliers.

6) Hold lunch meetings—Avoid eating lunch alone. Make use of the time to schedule meetings with an employee, client or business partner. “It’s an opportunity not only to talk but also to learn,” Israel says. “There’s no need to go to a high-end restaurant and spend $200 and two hours. You can just go to the food court.”

7) Meet your team—At the end of each week, schedule an in-person meeting with your entire team to recognize employees who have made valuable contributions (i.e. the ones you thanked through the week), report on accomplishments, discuss challenges that were overcome, explain what you learned during the week and answer questions.

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