Organization and planning are key to functioning
efficiently. Think of a piece of paper – how does it make
you feel when it is blank – like you need to do something?
Now what does it make you feel when it is all scribbled up,
crossed out, notated, or even stained with coffee mug ring –
like you want to escape?
This piece of paper analogy can be seen as your mind. You
need to find a starting point in which you can logically
plan and organize your business activities. So start with
your office space itself – whether that is a whole room or
just a desk or table where you have your PC.
Clear out all the things that do not relate to the business
at hand – if you have a lot of little junk then find a box,
jar or bowl to put things in. For papers either throw them
out or find a folder or box for them if you don’t have a
cabinet or drawer.
Using this same principle, consider your email account. Is
your inbox total chaos? For things you want to keep, you
can create folders or ‘labels’ – whether you like
alphabetical – for example A-D, E-J, K-P, etc; or to name
them by function, ‘List Builders’, ‘Marketing’,
‘Invoices’, ‘Legal’, etc; or by name of organization,
‘ABC Co’, ‘Acme Widgets’, etc. Then just check the
little boxes on the inbox index to name a group of emails at
once, label them or send them to the folders (archive).
Voila! ‘Out of sight, out of mind’. Clear sailing ahead.
Obviously if there are actual things you do need to read or
respond to maybe you can make a ‘pending’ folder so that
you don’t forget something. You will find however that the
vast majority of your mail does not need to clutter up your
inbox and your mind. No need to become aversive to your mail
because it is such a burden to deal with every day. It will
seem less so if you have a mechanism to get it out of your
Now that you have cleared some space for yourself, you can
think with a clear mind. This will make you much more likely
to comprehend what you are reading and follow up with things
where it is necessary than it is when you have the feeling
that you are drowning or smothering. If your email is too
cumbersome it will create a feeling in you that you do not
want to deal with something that is unpleasant every day.
The same principle should be applied to your documents – You
may save them in each application or you may also make
folders for those within the ‘My documents’ folder so that
you can find important information without an archaeology
dig. Make folders with somewhat broad classifications as
you don’t want to do overkill and make it too tedious.
It’s up to you whether you use categories for example by
months, or by functions, ‘procedures’ or ‘instructions’,
‘accounts payable’, ‘accounts receivable’. Then as time
goes on you may even wish to have folders with years where
you can move all the other categories – this makes it a lot
easier to find things you haven’t seen in a long time.
It is important that you keep your work area clear of
clutter and a good rule of thumb is nothing should be there
that does not pertain to work. With online business, not
really very much is outside of your PC, but if you invest a
few dollars in some office supplies, don’t forget the
folders and maybe a crate to keep them in.
It is important to have specific goals and tasks. When you
are creating your plan, don’t use vague references like
‘eat breakfast’ – make it specific: ‘eat eggs, toast and
bacon for breakfast’. That way when you sit down to
actually accomplish the necessary tasks to run your
business, you know exactly what you need to do.
It is also when you are creating the plan that you will set
your goals and make sure you are able to perform whatever
you need to without being interrupted or having everything
in ‘pending’. For example you can’t have eggs for
breakfast unless you first go to the store to buy the eggs.
So take some real time on the details to create your plan so
that it will run smoothly and you can actually do what you
need to do rather than to keep going back to the planning
Lists are great but if you have too many things to do they
can actually make it worse for you psychologically in that
for one thing you may not have everything you need in place
yet to accomplish something on the list. Or you may even
react negatively to having a big scribbled mess with some
things crossed out that are done, some things crossed out
because they are cancelled, notes here and there about the
status of various tasks, etc. It is just adding more chaos
to your day.
The purpose of having a plan is to be organized and
methodical so that you don’t miss any details. The main
reason not to have a scribbly mess in your directions,
however is that you may start to feel guilty or like you are
falling behind when you do not accomplish what you set out
to. There is so much to learn and to do that it is important
to stay positive and not let any obstacles stop you from
your progress to develop your business.
This is why it is best to have a couple different lists with
your goals being defined between those that are needed and
possible right now, (today) those that can be done in the
near future, (this week or month) and then long-term goals
which might cover as long as a year. Keep clear notes here
about the status or things that may be pending and why –
know what you need to do in the meantime to be able to
eventually do what is needed.
So start with 3 pieces of paper or online documents to begin
your planning. Don’t put anything on your ‘To Do’ list
for today unless you are absolutely sure you can do them
today. Should something happen unexpectedly that keeps you
from doing it, then cross it off and start a new list for
tomorrow – or add it to the near future list with exact date
to be determined. Be sure to note anything that is keeping
you from actually doing the task and what you need to do to
eliminate that so you can finish what you need to do.
It is sometimes difficult for people to be their own boss.
We are mostly used to going into a company that will tell us
what our job duties are and show us what that involves,
including orientation and training, etc; they will tell us
what time to show up and what time to go home. So they are
creating the foundation for us and we just need to go in and
do it. When you are starting your own business you will
have to do all of this yourself including motivating
yourself to follow your own directions!
It is very easy to say ‘not now’ or ‘maybe later’ when
you are in charge of yourself; however you can’t allow this
to be the case. You have to somehow force yourself to treat
your business just like you would a job. Of course we are
free to set our own hours and etc., but if we are seriously
hoping to start a business that will provide a full-time or
substantial income down the line, we need to actually follow
a plan and do the work on a consistent basis. Work at
midnight if that is what you prefer but just be sure you get
everything done, no matter what.
Take a few days off if you need to, but again, make sure
everything that needs to be done, gets done before you leave
or after you return. You might even want to build this in to
your plan as it is very important to take breaks and have
time away as in a weekend or vacation that you could expect
from a regular job.
When people first start out it seems to be extreme in one
way or the other; either they take it for granted and think
there is some magical process that will create traffic and
sales just because they joined a program, and there is no
necessity to actually work it; or they will work 15-hours a
day until they completely burn themselves out and can’t
figure out why nothing is working for them. The truth is it
takes time either way.
If you have ever baked a cake and did not follow the
directions in the recipe, you may have had an inedible
disaster. If you are lucky (and creative) you may be able
to rescue it by crumbling it over ice cream, or some other
way to think of cake.
It’s pretty much the same with most things – there are
correct ways to do things; some ways work better than
others. Some things lend themselves to creativity in that
you can sometimes do them slightly differently and they will
still work. You may even be able to improve upon them. For
others though it is imperative that you stick to the recipe
if you want the same results as you envision – for example
When you are doing something new, that you have never done
before or that you are really not sure of how to do it
exactly, it is a logical conclusion to realize you need some
direction. Even the hyper-creative or non-conformist should
have some frame of reference – or ‘ballpark’ idea of what
is involved at least in getting started.
Following directions requires a certain amount of humility
but it doesn’t mean you are not in charge of your own
business or that you are working for someone else again. You
just need a plan and some idea of what to do, where to get
what you need to do it – just general direction at the
With art for example you can’t learn ‘talent’ – you
either have it or you don’t. However even someone with
great talent will likely need to learn technique and do some
experimenting before they find their ‘niche’ or to find
the medium that they can excel at. Someone with little
talent or experience who has a real desire to learn how to
do something well, can often develop their expertise.
The point is it is probably best to have some kind of expert
advice at the least when you are thinking about starting a
home business. You can actually benefit and save yourself
buckets of money and time if you are willing to consider
what those with a successful track record have to share with
you in the way of information and more.
With that said, what worked in 1998 in many cases, will have
played itself out by now, as people are learning more and
developing tools and resources that we can use ‘off the
shelf’, rather than to have to learn a programming language
or anything super-technical. Each generation of software
for example often has more ease of use as well as
We just need to be aware of and try to understand to the
best of our ability what, where, why and how to. If one is
very analytical it would be to their advantage, as long as
they know when to stop analyzing and start taking action
with what they know. This is a fine art in itself and many
people hide behind learning and never feel they know enough
to actually do it. This is a mistake.
With any business that requires marketing and advertising
(and they all do if you want to attract customers and
income), it is best if you get started as soon as possible.
Even while you are still learning because it requires lots
of momentum to be building at all times. This is because not
everyone you reach will respond and you need to eliminate
them to find the people who are interested and will take
For example at getting started sooner, at point A you learn
you will need to use an autoresponder for your business; and
you will need to load it with messages and create a list of
prospects to send them to.
First you would do a comparative analysis of good
autoresponder companies and see what the costs are, what the
functions are, and determine the superior one with a good
reputation that you can afford. Then you would either start
composing your messages or enlist the help of a ghostwriter
Next, for an online business you would need to create a
‘web form’ for people to add their email address to
(‘opt-in’) from your website or blog. If you have the
money to accelerate this process you may participate in a
‘list building’ program or send out ‘solo ads’ that
invite someone to receive information from you. To
incentivize you might want to add a free gift for doing so.
So each one of these steps requires analysis and making a
decision based on your own situation. If you skipped one
step you may create chaos and confusion (and waste) because
you will not be able to do what you intend unless you have
covered each detail sufficiently.