In business, you've always got to be on top of things. This requires being organized and ready to pursue opportunities -- and deal with problems -- the moment they arise.

That's an easy thing for me to say, but I do know it can be hard to do when things in and out of your control conspire to waste your time. Junk email, a messy office, a desk overflowing with files and paperwork are just a few of the things that can get in the way of your success.

But getting organized isn't rocket science -- it just takes a small investment of time to develop and maintain a system for keeping track of the important things in your business while filtering out what's not.

Here are 6 simple, proven, and powerful organizing tips that will get you on your way.

1. Make a priority list at the beginning of your workday.

At the beginning of your business day, set aside 20 minutes or so to make a list of your priorities. Then do everything you can to stick with it -- avoiding distractions and the requests of others that may pull you away from your own priorities.

2. Focus on your most important goals first--the others can wait.

Make sure your goals are realistic and inspiring, and keep them constantly front of mind so you'll be reminded to maintain your focus on achieving them.

3. Use an online calendar linked to your smartphone and other devices.

While I personally depend on Google Calendar, there are many online calendars available for you to use. Keeping an up-to-date calendar that integrates with all your computing platforms -- including smartphones, watches, and tablets -- is absolutely essential today.

4. Know which priorities are the most important.

Working through your priority list is actually quite simple: tackle your top priority first and your lowest priority last. This may seem obvious, but how many times do we do the quick-and-easy, low-payoff tasks first, and save the more difficult, high-payoff tasks for later? Too often I'm afraid.

5. Circle back at the end of the day.

At the end of your business day, set aside another 20 minutes or so to tie up loose ends.  Go through your remaining work and make assignments to employees, forward information to coworkers as necessary, respond to e-mail and voicemail messages, file away the things that you need to keep, and quickly review your appointments for the following day.

6. Tidy up before you go home.

When your desk or office is a mess, your mind will be too. Take time to keep your desk in order. File away the things you don't need and take action on the things that require it. While a cluttered desk may not be the sign of a cluttered mind, it certainly won't help you get and stay organized for success.

Published on: Jun 16, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.