How being organised at work can help you focus on success


Being organised is one of the most valuable skills a small business owner can have to achieve success. You can think much more clearly and therefore, you can concentrate on your targets and how to reach them. Once you have systems in place for carrying out your work and plan regularly, you ensure that you keep your significant tasks a priority.

Achieving success comes from working proactively to drive the business forward. If we're always functioning in a reactive way and working in a chaotic, cluttered environment then progress slows down. Here are some tips to ensure you keep yourself organised:

Organise your workspace

Don't underestimate the time lost or stress caused by an inefficient working environment. If your productivity feels low, perhaps your workspace is letting you down.

To restore order:

  • Be ruthless and remove anything that doesn't directly serve a function in your day to day activity.
  • Create consistent homes for all work materials so you know where to find them. Choose locations logically based on where you tend to use the items, for example, store spare copy paper near the printer. Move outside your immediate reach anything you don't use regularly. Always return items once you have used them so they'll be where you expect them the next time.
  • If the information needed for your clients' proposal is buried under various bits of paper, for example, this is going to create unnecessary stress for yourself. Use trays and files to organise information and label it. Better still, create a virtual office by saving all information on a cloud-based service like Dropbox or Google Drive. This means you can access information when you are away from the office too.


Time spent planning saves so much time when it comes to implementing it. Implementing regular planning strategies will keep you focused and on target.

Daily planning

Start planning today for tomorrow. Each day implement a routine as part of your shut-down to wrap up loose ends and prioritise key tasks. Ensure your plan is workable. A good plan for tomorrow allows you to clear your head and enjoy your evening.

Weekly planning

Once a week, make time for a 60- 90-minute appointment with yourself for larger scale planning and review. Use the time to research, plan new strategies, or any of those tasks which typically take a back seat. Select a good time in the day when you're at your best. Keep this appointment with yourself and treat the time as sacred. It's often during this period when we tap into ideas, solutions, and experience breakthroughs that may open new opportunities.

Staying organised

This requires consistent ongoing effort. The key is to remain focused on the benefits it brings to your business success. Spend a few minutes each day restoring order to your workspace. Perform your daily planning without fail. Remember, things happen and priorities change. Don't despair, just review, revise and keep moving forward.

Be brutally honest about what you need to keep. Studies suggest that 80% of what we file is never accessed again. Ask yourself this. Is there a tax or legal reason for keeping it? Why would I need this in future? Is it information I could obtain online or otherwise? Put paperwork you do keep in good-quality folders and label them clearly. Or again, set up a virtual filing system using a cloud-based service.

If you find it hard to keep yourself organised and you would like some one to one help, send an email to We would love to help.

De-Stress at your desk

I recently saw an article in Grazia Magazine, written by Eileen Burns (The Stress Coach) which I wholeheartedly co-sign.  She is a Stress Management Expert and gives us 5 ways to de-stress.

1. Make a list and focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking is the main cause of stress, lack of focus, poor concentration, fatigue and anxiety.

2. Take a breath when you’re overwhelmed. Simply drop your shoulders and become aware of your chest rising and falling.

3. Have regular tea breaks and leave your desk for your full lunch break to encourage the body into a more relaxed state.

4. Move. Even stretching at your desk helps reduce muscular pain, tension and circulation problems.

5. Stay hydrated. Dehydration adds pressure and stress to the body’s systems.

Sounds good to me and anything is worth a try.  Right?

Staying Organised 101

Staying organised isn't hard. No, no really it isn't...........

Zelica Jones 

 October 29, 2015

My name is Zelica. I'm a Virtual Assistant and I organise small businesses for a living.   I’ve wanted to blog for a while and this particular blog started off as tips for making a to do list but let’s go all the way and talk about being well organised and how to do lists feature in that.

But I have a confession to make.  I am not naturally an organised person.  I work really hard at it. I invest a lot time and research in finding ways to stay organised, stop myself from getting distracted easily and being productive.  It's not easy but I try really hard. Does that make me a fraud?  No!  Because I put into action everything I teach my clients. I walk the walk and practise what I preach. Most of the time.........

Staying organised is a job in itself.  The last thing you probably want to do is add another task in an already busy life. But I guarantee that introducing structure and routine will make everything else in your life a lot simpler.  By adding structure and routine, we can all make better use of our time instead of stressing and worrying about everything we have to do. It doesn’t matter if you have failed miserably in the past at staying organised.  It really doesn’t.  I hope you will try again because something I say resonates with you.  It’s important to allow flexibility into your day as having structure and routine shouldn’t scare you into being organised, but urge you.  You want to create something that becomes natural and easy in your quest in being organised every single day.


1.     Start from Sunday evening

Trust me, you will sleep easier knowing you have a plan for the week ahead.  You should also repeat the following each evening so you face the day afresh.

·      Tidy up. Pack bags. Iron clothes for school and/or work. – .  I am not a morning person.  I do not want the added stress into my morning especially as I don’t think my children or my neighbours could handle the consequences or noise levels.  Nothing is more stressful than rushing around first thing in the morning trying to find shoes, books, tights, whatever. Organise it all from the night before so you have time to find whatever usually is hiding behind a cushion, yesterday’s newspaper or a pile of ironing.  If you work from home, it is so distracting to see a pile of clothes that need putting in the washing machine, a dirty kitchen floor, toys that need packing away, etc.  There is nothing like waking up to a tidy home.  You can’t help feeling smug.  It’s fine.  You’ll have time to pat yourself on the back too


·      Write a to-do list for the week.  Writing is usually therapeutic and you can see exactly what needs to be done in black and white.   Most of us are good at writing the list but fail at actually completing the task and ticking them off.  First of all, get it all out of your head.  Like a memory dump.  It is often suggested by experts that you should have a master list, which you add to and delete it from your mind.  Ken Ziegler, a productivity and time management expert says, “Allow your mind to be a strategic thinker, not a memory chip”. I love that!  Always keep a pad with you (even by your bed at night.  Don’t let that thing you didn’t do today keep you up worrying.  Get it out and down on the paper.), so by Sunday night you have a master list for the week ahead.

Be specific and be practical.  The whole point to having a to-do list is to make your life easier.  For example, don’t just say “Answer emails”.  Write whose emails need answering so you allocate the proper amount of time to the task.  Always leave time for unplanned occurrences.  Things don’t always go to plan so prepare for it.

Is there anything on there that can be delegated or outsourced?  We can’t possibly do everything or able to do everything.  Is there someone who can help or is simply better than you at doing something?  It is not worth overloading your schedule just because you refuse to ask for help.  Instead of getting a cleaner, I set weekly chores for my 16-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son to do.  I’m not good at trying to do everything.  I do what I’m good at and what I am physically capable of doing.  No point setting unrealistic aims for myself.  Maybe it’s not kids you can delegate (don’t worry, my kids get paid in kind) but a colleague, flat mate, friend or acquaintance. Just don’t try and do it all as no one will see how much of a superman/woman you are, just the ranting, stressed person they have to hide from.

Divide your to-do list up into professional and personal, which them themselves should be divided into needs and wants.  Remember to add in special events and appointments.  Prioritise what needs to be done but add your wants as well. Remember that you do not have to explain your to-do list to anyone else.  What is important to you, may not seem important to another but again it doesn’t matter.  It all depends on your work commitments and lifestyle.  Please be realistic so you don’t set yourself up to fail.  Don’t be so hyped up with being organized that you put 15 tasks on that list  each day which overwhelms you so much that by Wednesday morning you want to burn the to do list.  Personally, I like to put 3 tasks on both my professional and personal list (2 needs and 1 want, for example).  Maybe you could do more or less tasks though try to be realistic but do push yourself.

Please make sure that you put a ‘to be completed’ date next to every task.  It is so important that you put when and where you’re going to do something.  It is not important if a task gets rolled over to the next day if you didn’t have the time complete it, though it is important that you do something about it.  If an item stays on your list for more than three days, then a decision needs to be made.  Either do it right away, reallocate it to the beginning of a specific day to be completed first or cut it from the list completely.

The format of your to-do list is completely up to you.  I love my Apple products.  I have an iMac, iPhone, iPad, etc., etc. which all sync up and update at the touch of a button.  But I write my to-do list and schedule in my Filofax.    I have to manually write things down.  I get a certain satisfaction from physically ticking items off tasks when completed.  I use my electronic items to remind myself of appointments only.  I need reminding to leave at a certain time otherwise I’m still sitting there doing something ‘Important’.  If you are into technology, smart phones usually come with apps such as Reminders on iOS.  Do!, Wunderlist, are few other apps which can be downloaded but check out others too to see which suit you.  Or you can use pen and paper or a Excel Spreadsheet.

2.     Create a Schedule

Use your to-do list to create a schedule for the week.  Literally write the time you will be completing each task around work and childcare commitments, appointments and events.  You have already noted the time it should take you do each event so it should be pretty straightforward.  Try and stick to it but do not beat yourself up about it if you haven’t ticked everything off.  Research says that it takes 21 days for a routine to become a habit.  Don’t be hard on yourself if you aren’t quite doing it all on Day 23.  Just keep persevering.  Don’t give up.  As long as you are doing something every day, you are making progress.  It does help if you try not to get distracted.  Don’t start something else without having finished the task you were doing.  Multi tasking is so overrated.  I would rather finish 3 tasks then have started 10 and not finished any.  It is so easy to be distracted by emails, social media, phone calls so give yourself regular breaks or rewards.  There is nothing wrong with checking your Facebook if you have finished half of your tasks by noon. It would be an issue if it’s 3pm and you haven’t ticked anything off of your list but have checked your Instagram/Pinterest/Facebook/Twitter, ASOS’s website and added items to your Net-a Porter’s Wish List basket.  Maybe you don’t even realize how much time you spend on your phone.  If you have a smartphone, download the Moments app.  It is an app that will tell how long you have spent on your phone and how many times you have picked it up from midnight to midnight each day.  I was so embarrassed to realize that in one day, I spent 6 hours on my personal social media accounts but wondered why I wasn’t getting all my tasks done.   I now have set a limit within the app for a really annoying alarm to ring when I have spent over 90 minutes on my phone.  When that alarm goes off and I know that I have been doing something productive in that time, I tend just to turn the alarm off and carry on.  If I know that I have been checking out what my mates have been up to, I usually slip the phone down ashamedly.  But reward yourself with Social Media Time (if that is your thing) after you have completed a certain amount of tasks to keep yourself motivated.  Make sure you allow time for breaks.  I get bored easily so I don’t try and do anything for longer than an hour unless I’m really on a flow.  Break tasks up into manageable tasks so that it is easier to focus.


3.     Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep

Nothing new and not always the easiest thing to stick to I know but developing a good sleep pattern, diet and regular exercise is the only way to tackle each day with the energy and enthusiasm needed.  Research shows that all mammals need sleep, and that sleep regulates mood and is related to learning and memory functions. Not only will getting enough sleep help you perform on a test, learn a new skill or help you stay on task, but it may also be a critical factor in your health, weight and energy level..  It is easy to feel sensitive, a bit lazy or overwhelmed when you haven’t had enough sleep to begin to think straight.  Before you know it, you have been staring at the paperwork/computer for hours and have not really achieved anything.  Record that programme that you don’t want to miss and keep late nights to a minimum.  The 8 hours sleep per night theory hasn’t been plucked out of the air.  There has been a lot of research into this subject and 8 hours really is the ideal amount of hours of sleep needed in order for your body and brain to feel refreshed.

I’m not suggesting that you become a gym bunny but get yourself moving about.   Research has consistently shown that sleep quality improves among those who exercise.  There isn’t much point in going to bed early if you’re not going to get any quality sleep. Walk more at the very least.

A better diet will also aid a better quality of sleep.  Try to consume less caffeine, alcohol and sugar, at least during the week, and up your intake of fruits, veg and lean meats.  People who sleep only four hours a night are more likely to choose high-carb, sugary, and starchy foods over healthier picks, a University of Chicago study found. The reverse is also true: Eating certain healthy foods calm your nervous system and triggers a sleep-inducing hormonal response, scientists say, helping you rest better at night.

The point to remember is that you aren’t going to be able to achieve these 3 points all of the time.  If you can, great but it’s not the point. The point is to try.   You want to create a life that is manageable, less stressful and feels more productive. Life isn’t perfect so why should you be striving for perfection?  Just try and do your best, whatever that be. If you don’t achieve everything during the first week, just try again. It's more important to do something if you're struggling with how things are currently than doing nothing at all.  But remember that you could always contact someone like me if you really struggle.  After all, if everyone was good at organising their time and tasks, I would be out of a job!

If you feel you would benefit from 1:1 Coaching, please feel free to contact me on

Hasn't time flown!

Errmm, so what did happen to me blogging at least once a week.  Well, life happened I suppose!  Now, I can sit here berating myself that someone who is supposed to be a professional organiser hasn’t been incredibly organised nor made effective or productive use of their time lately (cough, cough).  Or I can say “Oh well!” and do what needs to be done from this moment on. I am a true believer of choosing the latter path because putting yourself down will only take unnecessary energy and more time that you could actually map out how you should be spending your time more effectively and productively.  I choose to have a “From now on” kind of attitude.  It really doesn’t matter what you have chosen to do up to this point, but from now on you can choose another path.


In my first (yes, yes and only) post, I spoke being realistic in planning your to do lists.  One way of trying to see how much time you have to attack the to do list is by creating a time management plan/map.  If you map out all the activities, tasks, roles you have to do, you then can see what time you have left to complete the to do list.  For example, if you work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, it takes you an hour each way to commute to and from work, then you would block out 8am to 6pm in your time plan.  If you have a regular meeting every week, block out that time too.  Children’s activities?  Block that time out and so on and so forth.  Only then will you discover how much time you can realistically spend doing all the other stuff.  There just is no point being determined to spend 3 hours working on your new business when you just don’t have the time at present to be able to do that.  By mapping out your schedule, you can make realistic plans for your time or even see what you would have to cut out in order to fit new plans in.


Here’s mine:

I’m a very visual person so I like to colour code mine.

I get very bored, very easily so I tend not to work for more than 2 hours at a time but prefer to work for an hour to an hour and a half at a time.  Things happen, so have a contingency plan in case you need extra time to get everything done. I didn’t have so much ‘me’ time last week because my son was sick and I had to collect him from school.  His school isn’t just around the corner.  In fact, it takes up to 3 hours to get there and back sometimes.  But it’s fine that I didn’t have so much me time because I had things that I had to do.  Sometimes I only get an evening off and sometimes a Sunday.  That’s fine too because that is what life is like when you work hard, am ambitious and want to provide a comfortable life for yourself and your family.  If there are weeks and months of not having a break and quality time for yourself, well then, that’s not on.  Then you will have to look at your time map and see what you could or have to cut out because you have just packed too much in there.

Try and be strict with your time plan and stick to it because that is the only way that you are going to get everything done.  Focus on what you want out of life and go for it.  But if you don’t always stick to the plan, it’s ok.  Just say “From now on…” and mean it!

If you need to speak with me, please contact me on

I can help you stay organised by teaching you how or getting a member of the VASS team to do the tasks for you.  Whether it's Book Keeping, Admin, Business Set Up Help, Marketing, Legal, HR, Event Co-Ordination or Lifestyle Management, we're here to help in any way we can.