I took a few days upstate for myself, and whenever I’m on my own, I end up getting super creative and productive about what tools I want to teach you guys and help you implement.

How do I get all this done on top of a full coaching load, churning out a blog and podcast every week, marketing, sales, and everything else a small business needs? I GET ORGANIZED. I have a very clear organizational system that I use to manage my work.

But first, let me be really clear: A system isn’t enough. You need a system. But you also need to manage your mind. Either one without the other isn’t enough. You need both.

When you don’t have a system, it’s very difficult to get organized and stay on top of things, even when you’re managing your thoughts. And conversely, even if you have a great system, if you don’t manage your thoughts, it won’t matter, because you’ll procrastinate and avoid doing what you’re supposed to do anyway.

Let’s start with the system. I’m always astounded how many of my high-powered clients don’t have a system. They have scraps of paper with notes jotted down on them, and some they don’t even have that. Some just have a running mental list of what they’re supposed to be doing. Or they just show up to work everyday and figure out what is immediately due and try to work on that, if they can get through their panic. None of these are good systems.

Here’s what happens when you don’t have a good system.

  • You worry constantly about whether you have enough time to get everything done.
  • You feel overwhelmed.
  • You get paralyzed trying to figure out what to do first, so you do nothing.
  • When you work on one thing, you’re worrying about whether you should be working on something else, or when you’ll get to it.
  • You have no idea how long your tasks will take you and feel out of control about your schedule.
  • You get distracted frequently remembering things you need to do later.

All of this comes out of not having a clear system to follow. When you have a system, you know exactly what you’re going to do when, ahead of time. When you don’t have a system, it’s just total chaos.

On the podcast this week, I teach you the system I use to stay organized. The podcast with all of that info will come out on Thursday, and it’s too much to include in an email without your eyes glazing over trying to read it. But here’s the core of it:

  1. Write down everything you need to do, broken down into specific tasks.
  2. Put all of those tasks and everything else you spend time doing on your calendar, with each activity or task assigned to a time block.
  3. Always include “buffer time”–blank time that you don’t assign any tasks to, which you use for overflow or for when things change unexpectedly.

A system is essential. But a system won’t help you if you aren’t actively managing your mind about projects. Even with a system, if you are not managing your mind, you will create a beautiful calendar of work tasks, and then you’ll sit down and get on Facebook instead, because your brain is scared of your work. So you still have to be actively managing your mind and working on changing your thoughts.

If you’re avoiding a particular assignment, for instance, just putting it on the calendar won’t magically make you do it. You still have to conduct your socratic self-dialogue. What am I avoiding? Why am I avoiding it? What am I afraid of? What could I practice thinking instead?

It’s usually some variation of “I don’t know how to do this,” or “this won’t be good enough,” or “I don’t have enough time.” So you have to stay on top of managing your mind and changing those thoughts. You always have to pay attention to what you’re thinking when you’re procrastinating. Coming up with thoughts you can practice on purpose when your brain goes into anxiety and overwhelm is key.

So don’t go buy another organizational self-help book or another $90 planner. All you need is a pad of paper and a calendar. The true keys to getting sh*t done are a system that you consistently follow and consistently managing your mind. Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!