7 organizational skills for business development success

by | May 20, 2020

Organizational skills are key for business development success. Find out how to be more organized and efficient in this list.

A long time ago, Benjamin Franklin said that “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned”. He recognized how important it is to bring order into daily life.

We often tell ourselves – and others – that we are busy. With our tight schedules as business developers, we rush from one appointment to another. Between these meetings, we should focus on our overdue work. Who doesn’t know it?

We have plenty to think about and many tasks to execute. So it makes sense that we want to focus on implementing and get things done. However, many of us, including me, still fail to get all the necessary done or lose sight of priorities.

Franklin’s quote is a perfect example of what we sometimes fail to see. More often than never, it is useful to step back and start with an essential part – organizing.

A good exercise is to reflect on your last week’s projects or if it is easier for you, take yesterday’s activities. How did you spend your day? Did you achieve the goals that you set?

In my case, I often answered this question with a clear “no”. Over time, especially since I started my freelance journey, I could see the trouble in that and had to take action.

If we get things in order, we can speed up the execution. We will be able to work through our full schedules more efficiently, and that is what organizational skills are all about.

Yes, we need to take it step by step to implement a more structured way of working, but there are skills that help us with that.

If you also sometimes struggle to stay organized in your daily life, we got you covered. Keep reading to discover the 8 organizational skills that will help you become a more successful business developer.

1. Manage your time properly

In your work life as a business developer, it is often difficult to assess the duration of tasks, especially if they are new to you. Many times you don’t have much guidance either.

As long as you cannot travel back in time, it is better to know how you spend your time daily. We often take the simple route. We promise ourselves we will do better tomorrow and that we will stay more on top of our tasks. The execution is certainly another story.

How often do you try to juggle several tasks at the same time? Multitasking is in fact a very common practice. While there are different opinions about the topic, trying to do many things at the same time usually overwhelms us. In the end, we execute tasks less efficiently and often with lower quality.

If you have a tight work schedule, you want to get rid of overdue tasks and inefficiencies. There is a possibility to do so by mastering one of the top organizational skills: time management.

Careful time management is a way to amend unproductive habits and processes. It is why you should integrate it into your routine. You will be more on top of your tasks, miss fewer deadlines and be more focused and productive in your available time.

You will see that with some time management practice, you get a better understanding of the time you need to allocate for different tasks. To support you with that, we got some practical ways and exercises to improve your time management skills.

  • Time-waster list: write down a list with your daily time-wasters and keep them near to you, so you can always update it if you notice other distractions. It is a super easy practice to become aware of where your time flows.
  • Avoid social media: you will probably realize how much time you spend on social media. In fact, we all spend too much time on them. To manage your time on social media, hide your social apps, and get rid of them on your computer’s toolbar. No matter why you use social media, one quickly loses the sense of time when browsing through the numerous, attention-seeking posts.
  • Time management techniques: there are many tools, techniques, and frameworks out there that can help you manage your time more efficiently.

I am an easily distracted person and it took a lot of work on myself to learn how to ignore the attention-grabbing time thieves. While I am not on my productive peak yet, one technique helped me to improve my uncontrolled spending of time. Probably you already heard of it, it’s called the Pomodoro Technique.

The idea behind it is simple. You create a to-do list and then you take a kitchen counter (yes, the tomato-shaped one) and you set it at 25 minutes. Once you start working, you hit the start button and focus on your task ahead for the next 25 minutes. After the bell rings, you take a 5-minute break after each Pomodoro and a longer break later on.

This technique really helped me to boost my focus and productivity. In the end, 25 minutes is a reasonable time frame, not too long but enough to get things done. The small breaks in between are essential to prevent mental fatigue, stretch your legs, and take a deep breath. I enjoy that it feels like a race against time. It is easier for me to keep motivated, be efficient and do not let distractions take on me. Try it and see how it works for you.

Master time management like a pro and you will always stay on top of your most vital projects.

2. Learn to prioritize your tasks

You don’t really have organizational skills until you learn how to prioritize your tasks. This has a critical role in paving your way to business development success. Many times, we fail on this one and the struggle is real.

One reason why we are not great at prioritization is that we prefer to execute easy and less urgent tasks, rather than more important tasks. For example, many of us like to start the day with small tasks, like checking your emails. This is a very bad habit because it will waste your energy and as a result, you will postpone the more important projects.

Instead, try this exercise: from tomorrow start your day with the most important task. If you get to it with a fresh and clear mind in the morning, you will notice it will become easier and easier to execute on these projects. This will help you meet your deadlines and also to have more high-quality outcomes for your work.

A very simple tool to help you practice your prioritization skills is the Eisenhower Matrix. All you need is a pen and paper or a spreadsheet and draw a simple matrix. Use the quadrants of the matrix in: important, not important, urgent, and not urgent. Then take a moment to think about all your tasks. The goal is to visually put your tasks in the quadrant it belongs to (see image below).

At the beginning you might have some issues understanding what should be done immediately or what could be simply deleted. As a rule of thumb think if the task will have an immediate negative or positive impact on your outcome. If the answer is yes, then that task is urgent and important, thus, you should do it immediately.

For example, your boss asks you to submit your startup in a competition with a 2 million prize with a deadline today. This is both important – because it could finance your startup – and urgent – because the deadline is today.

Don’t get discouraged, as time goes by you’ll become better and better at recognizing the importance of each task.

Read also: The business development guide

3. Master some planning skills

Among the top organizational skills for business development success you definitely can’t forget planning skills. Like many other professionals in the field, you are probably also busy handling several projects at the same time. It can get messy very quickly therefore it’s necessary to plan your tasks very accurately.

Planning skills will help you get an overview of all your projects and allocate your resources in a smart way. As you get more organized you will notice that suddenly you will also feel less pressure off your shoulders. Planning takes a bit of time of your day, and that’s why many people prefer to just get to the task. You couldn’t make a worse mistake!

The time you invest in planning is actually an investment. You will feel less stressed, especially when unexpected events happen, and you will have more clarity on your important tasks at any time.

So here are some easy practical tips for working on your planning skills.

First, take a look at your project and divide it into smaller tasks. As soon as you’re done, assess the time required for each of those steps. If you don’t know the exact time for each one, try to estimate and eventually readjust later.

In this way, you will have a clearer idea of how many tasks you can master in a day, week or month.  When you get that done, you can plan accordingly. Bear in mind the plans of your company and your colleagues as well. You will need to coordinate.

Another practical advice is to use a planning tool. The most obvious one is a calendar where you can make sure the deadline is visible. But, other tools like Trello or Asana are very helpful to coordinate with other teams and make sure nobody misses a deadline again.

Blocking time for your professional projects, breaks, or even personal life does a lot to organize your life. While you do not necessarily need to apply it in your free time, scheduling your job activities helps you to spend your time more wisely.

The bottom line is, knowing your tasks is not enough. You have to actively plan into your day and make them visible.

That’s the only way to make sure you optimize your time and get things done.

4. Use your resources efficiently

One issue common to many business development professionals is the lack of resources. However, often the problem is not really the lack but rather the ability to recognize the resources you actually have. Part of the organizational skills involve developing this ability and starting to use the resources you already have.

Time is an obvious a very important resource, just like your colleagues who can actually enable you to achieve your goals faster. Sometimes we don’t even think of asking for help from our colleagues because we think they’re too busy.

However, you will be surprised by the positive answers you will get when you decide to ask for help from your colleagues. Of course, make sure that the colleague you ask has the right qualification to help you achieve your set goals.

Another practice that can help you with your organizational skills is to take a broader view on tasks. Ask yourself who else in your network – besides your colleagues – could help you realize your projects. Relationships, even if virtual, can be priceless assets that you should always keep in mind when thinking about your resources.

5. Learn how to delegate

Just like learning how to coordinate your resources well, knowing how to delegate is also a key aspect of possessing organizational skills. How often did you feel like drowning when working? Maybe the problem is just that you have too much on your plate.

Let me tell you a secret, you don’t need to be a superhero and do everything by yourself. In fact, many of us are convinced that to be successful you need to be able to manage everything. It proves that you are better than others, right?

In reality, this is just a misconception. Instead, being able to work as a team and make use of other people’s skills and talent can really set you apart. So, how do you do it?

First, make sure the person is the right one for that task. Then make sure you explain why you’re delegating the task. Some people might think you’re just getting rid of some boring stuff, so it’s important to be clear on the reasons why you’re asking for help.

In the same way, it’s important that you give precise instructions and training if necessary, as well as feedback along the process. This will help you get the quality you need to properly execute your tasks. Last, don’t forget to show your gratitude when the task is done.

A simple thank you, can go a long way!

6. Goal-setting skills

Being able to set clear goals is a critical part of organizational skills. Chances are you probably already have more or less precise goals for your professional and personal life. But how good are you at actually achieving them?

Having clear goals is proven to boost productivity and eventually be more successful because it helps you get perspective. Besides, knowing what you’re concretely after will give you the motivation to actually complete your tasks and achieve your goals.

Now, it’s not always easy to set goals and unfortunately, it happened to me as well. That caused me to work inefficiently and eventually not to work smartly. But not that long ago, I realized how important it is to be consistent and have explicit goals not only in mind but somewhere a bit more visible.

How can you put it into practice? A useful tip is to use frameworks like the famous SMART one. This tool helps you create goals that are: specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-bound. To make this effective you will need to define what are your long term plans.

Once you do that, think about all the actions you need to take in order to make this goal a reality. This will help you break down your goal into smaller tasks and know concretely what to work on next. Keep in mind that goals should be realistic, so don’t overestimate yourself and instead create goals that are actually feasible with your schedule.

The last important aspect of goal setting is to make sure you have a specific deadline for your activities. Your goals should be time-bound meaning that you should be able to achieve them in a given timeframe. In this way, you can make sure to work efficiently and timely.

Something that really works for me is to make my goals very visible. For example, by writing them on a whiteboard or spreadsheet. It doesn’t really matter where you write them down, but it’s crucial to do it. The very fact of having the goals in front of you will make you more committed and ready to do whatever it takes to reach your goals.

Remember: without a clear goal, you will not go very far. Take the time to strategically look at your plans and build concrete steps to make them real.

7. Take care of yourself

In the fast-paced world we are living in, we sometimes forget to take a step back and take care of what matters – our mental and physical well-being. It is not something we should neglect.

You may wonder why it is so valuable or what does it have to do with your organizational skills? Well, to function in an organized manner, we need to take care of our mind, mental health, and also our physics. Taking time for self-care will put off stress, give you new creative ideas, and keep you in balance. We can achieve much more when we feel well and energetic.

It is not difficult to put that into practice. Take a moment to relax every day. Indulge in activities that treat your soul. You know the importance of sleep, don’t neglect it.

Apart from this, “book” a bit of time every day in your calendar to enjoy the things you like. It can be anything. The best is to make it a routine. If you like watching your favorite series in the evening, do it. Do you love going out and meeting friends? Schedule some time every week, so you make sure you stick to your social gatherings.

One thing that I started practicing is meditation. As I told before, I have hard times to stay focused, so it is perfect for that. Another great thing is you can adapt it entirely to your available time.

Got a couple of minutes? Sit or lay down and listen to a guided meditation or focus on your breath. If you have tried it and it isn’t the right for you, there are so many other options to integrate, like journaling, affirmations, or reading.

No matter what you like doing outside your work life, make sure you plan in time for that.

How do you keep yourself organized? Share your experience in Europe’s first community for business development.

Author

Katrin Lindenbauer

Content Writer at The BD School

I am curious about discovering exciting opportunities. In this way, I am working on creating meaningful content to motivate others to also seek for new interesting experiences.

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