“I meant to get to it, but I ran out of time!”

Sound familiar? We are all guilty of this. Time got away from us and we didn’t get to all the things we wanted to accomplish. Remember, Elon Musk? His goal setting was a soft skill we highlight; however, his organization and planning is what helped him become so successful.

Follow these 6 rules to be more effective at planning and organizing. These simple rules can make your life a whole lot easier and far more successful than you ever thought possible. Let us know how they work for you!

Rules for Planning and Organizing

Rule # 1 Prioritizing
Even though you can’t do everything at once, prioritizing helps you to figure out which tasks are the most important and which tasks can wait. If you know how to prioritize, you’ll be able to break up your work into smaller pieces. Then you can focus on each task, one at a time, starting with the most important.

Have a million things to do? Create a list of everything you have to do. Then arrange the list in order of most important. Start tackling the things on your list in the order you created.

Rule # 2 Time Management
There is no way to increase the time you have, but you can find ways to better use your time. Time management is making sure your actions help you finish the things you have to do. As you get better at managing your time, it will feel like you have more time.

A time management trick goes hand-in-hand with your list of priorities. With your list of priorities, add time estimates for each task on your list.

Reply to emails – 20 minutes
Meet with Sara – 60 minutes
Pick up toothpaste – 20 minutes

Does your time estimates add up for way more time than you actually have? Re-prioritize. What can be moved or shrunk? Being as honest as possible will help you plan a more successful day.

Rule # 3 Coordinating Resources
Every project and assignment requires the use of some type of resource. A resource is something you need to complete a task. When most people think about resources they think about money. But resources don’t always have to be in the form of money. Sometimes a project will require human resources, or workers. Other projects might require the resources of space or time. Larger projects may require many different kinds of resources.

When working on a project or task, break the project into different, smaller sections. What resources do you need? Consider people or materials you need to complete the project. Again, be honest. Do you need to find a freelance graphic designer to help create content? Use your resources to create the best product or strategy.

Rule # 4 Delegating
This can be the most tricky. Delegating is a common and essential practice in the workplace. When you delegate, you give some of your work to other people. Those people are then in charge of getting that work done. Delegating simply means that you have found the best way to spread out the work.

Back to the previous example, in your meeting, did the team decide to find a freelance graphic designer to create new marketing materials? Delegate that task to another member on your team. Delegating can be very difficult, but trust your team. If things don’t go well, evaluate and learn from the example.

Rule # 5 Creating Systems
When a machine is working correctly, the work gets done automatically. The machine repeats a process over and over again, with very few errors or mistakes. Although humans aren’t machines, we can create systems or processes that can help us to work as well as a machine.

Do you perform the same tasks? Take the time to write down your system of how you do it – a checklist. After you create your checklist, now you have a guide in case you haven’t done the task in a while and now you have the process to delegate to someone else.

Rule #6 Planning Ahead
Being a successful planner and organizer has a lot to do with your ability to plan ahead. Usually, the more time you have to plan something, the more successful you will be. Sometimes you have no control over the amount of time you have to complete a project. An unexpected project might come up and your manager will ask you to take care of it. In these cases, all you can do is make the best use of the time you have.

With the exception of these unexpected projects, try to plan ahead as much as possible at work. When you plan ahead, these unexpected projects will be much more manageable.

Plan out major projects as best as you can. Do you create a quarterly report? Plan ahead to make sure you have everything you need to complete the report in advance.