Advertising
Advertising

9 Ideas to Get Your Work Organized for the Year Ahead

9 Ideas to Get Your Work Organized for the Year Ahead

Ask The Entrepreneurs is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

What’s one thing you’re doing now to get your business organized for the year ahead?

1. Calendar Blocking

Kelly Azevedo

    As often as possible, I’m adding regular business tasks to my weekly calendar on repeat. It has helped to “hold the space” for client work, marketing, networking, family and fun. I take into account the 2013 personal and business goals as I create time to work closer to those outcomes.

    Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems

    2. Budgeting for the Year

    Advertising

    David Ehrenberg

      To prepare for the year ahead, I’m creating a financial plan and budget for 2013. This is an essential activity (that you should have started in 2012) to help you to get organized for the year ahead. Use your financial plan as an opportunity to hone in on your key goals for 2013 and to establish milestones to guide you throughout the year. Plan to update your budget as the year progresses.

      David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services

      3. Filing

      Derek Flanzraich

        Believe it or not, I haven’t had a filing cabinet so much as a filing “box” where everything I wanted to file away was placed in, without any rhyme or reason. My plan is to fix that.

        Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

        4. Have Some Perspective

        Advertising

        Robert J. Moore

          Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the weeds and forget about how far you can come in a year. We’re summarizing accomplishments made in 2012 to share with our company, and motivate the team to continue to do bigger and better things in 2013.

          Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics

          5. Cut the “Fluff”

          Benish Shah

            If it’s not something that is adding to my life in a positive manner, it needs to go. My goal is to surround myself with things that I’m passionate about, that I can learn from, and that will help me focus instead of distract me. It’s like spring cleaning your closet!

            Benish Shah, Vicaire Ny

            6. Get Personal!

            Advertising

            John Hall

              Hiring a personal assistant. At first I felt like hiring a personal assistant was ridiculous, but the busier I get the less organized I am.

              John Hall, Digital Talent Agents

              7. Review Life Plan

              Peter Nguyen

                Every quarter I review my life plan and business objectives and goals. I try to go somewhere for a whole weekend to do this every three months.

                Peter Nguyen, Literati Institute

                8. Heighten Web Security

                Advertising

                Logan Lenz

                  I went through a few terrible hacks recently. Even though we were prepared with backups and recovery best practices, cyber attacks are always damaging to an online business. I have spent much personal time and resources building out our security infrastructure in order to ensure that similar attacks never occur again in the future.

                  Logan Lenz, Endagon

                  9. Listening, Better and More Often

                  Mitch Gordon

                    For me, listening to my employees is the solution to many problems. They always have great ideas for how we can make the business, and our time in the office, more efficient and productive. We spent the month of December wrapping up year-end projects, as well as putting a great plan in place for 2013. Always take time for an in-depth review with key employees at the end of the year!

                    Mitch Gordon, Go Overseas

                     

                    More by this author

                    9 No-Brainer Ways to Track Employee Time Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Things Entrepreneurs Should Stop Doing Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Best Note Taking Tools Ask the Entrepreneurs: 12 Tips for Mastering Public Speaking Ask the Entrepreneurs: 9 Tasks You Should be Outsourcing

                    Trending in Productivity

                    1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

                    Read Next

                    Advertising
                    Advertising
                    Advertising

                    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

                    Advertising

                    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

                    Advertising

                    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                    The Neurology of Ownership

                    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

                    Advertising

                    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

                    Advertising

                    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

                    More About Goals Setting

                    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                    Reference

                    Read Next