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He may be one of the most well respected American authors of the 20th century, but Pulitzer-prize winner John Steinbeck’s adage that “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” is disproven on a daily basis.

It is true that often our best intentions as small business owners don’t quite pan out as we hoped, but fundamentally we know having a plan in the first place is a worthy endeavor.

A 2010 survey conducted by Small Business Trends reported that entrepreneurs who establish a business plan are twice as likely to be successful. Those are pretty good odds, despite even the occasional run-of-the-mill dose of disappointment.

And while most business plans outline a vision, goals and steps to get there, what happens every day matters when bringing a plan to life.

Most small business owners understand that no two companies are alike. There are unique needs that every business has to become successful, but a common thread that unites them all is the need for a solid plan. Not just for the business itself, but for each and every day ahead.

That’s why we have taken some time to research five steps to a more organized workday.

Have a daily (and weekly) plan. Project management begins with proper planning, on both a short-term and long-term basis. In addition to helping you stay focused, a plan that includes specific goals for the day can provide the motivation you need to get things done. It can help reduce stress by serving as a reminder of both what you need to do and what you have already accomplished. Being realistic and prioritizing tasks is crucial. Best of all, a daily plan can help reel you back in after you run into an unexpectedly long phone call or technological malfunction. It goes without saying that some things are beyond control, but planning ahead helps maximize efficiencies and ultimately make the day a more smooth and productive one for everyone involved.

Stick to a routine. It doesn’t have to be rigid and should be something that works for you, but research shows that having especially a morning routine can help set you up for a satisfyingly productive day. Science shows willpower is strongest in the morning, making the case for doing the most challenging or important task first. What that task is will likely vary greatly based on the profession, but some researchers cite daily goal setting among the best morning habits of effective business people.

Get crafty with tools. The average person picks up their phone more than 1,500 times a week and an average Smartphone user spends more than three hours a day on their phone. What that means for small business owners is ultimately up to how all that time is spent. Tapping into the use of mobile apps to boost productivity for you and your employees is among one of the best ways to make the most of the time we spend on mobile devices. Apps like Hootsuite, Expensify, Google Drive and Evernote are tools that can help stay organized throughout the day regardless of where your office is located.

A tidy inbox is a happy inbox. Mobile apps like Outlook and Mailstrom are also greatly beneficial when working to maintain a clean inbox. And since studies show employees spend anywhere from 28 to 50 percent of their time on email, tidy inboxes make for a more efficient office. In addition to using apps, it’s also a good idea to schedule a daily or weekly cleaning time and respond (don’t store!) to emails quickly.

Give yourself a break. The last thing most business owners want to do is take a break. Small business owners are particularly guilty of this, as they are more likely to take work home with them after what has already been a long day or week. Nonetheless, the science in support of taking breaks is not to be ignored. It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not. Building time within each day to take a walk around the office, sip some freshly brewed coffee or tea or simply catch up with a co-worker can help us stay focused on our daily duties and long-term goals and retain information throughout the day.

He brought epic stories like “Of Mice and Men” to life, but John Steinbeck was wrong about the best laid plans.

Having a daily plan is one of the best things you can do to stay on track and ultimately make that vision page on your 134-page business plan come to life just as Steinbeck did all those years ago.

Resource Links:

  • Business Plan makes success – http://smallbiztrends.com/2010/06/business-plan-success-twice-as-likely.html
  • Morning Routines! – https://open.buffer.com/morning-routines-of-successful-people/
  • Taking breaks – https://open.buffer.com/science-taking-breaks-at-work/
  • Get motivated – https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/motivation
  • Daily Planner – https://inkandvolt.com/product/volt-planner/