Getting organized involves more than simply neatening stacks of papers and sliding it all into your desk drawer at the end of each day. Organization involves creating systems and procedures for each part of your business; intuitively fostering productivity and financial growth.
Start small, with one tip at a time, until you feel you can comfortably incorporate it into a new sustainable, organizational process. Once it becomes automatic, move onto the next tip!
1 – Organization of Papers
Paper is the biggest disorganization culprit for most of us, so let’s start there. If you don’t have a filing system and/or a digital archiving system in place, now is the time to build one. Start by taking a look at the papers you have laying around. Make a keep pile and a discard pile, then shred or recycle all of the papers, magazines, newsletters, cards, notes, etc. that made it to the second pile. Before being able to go through the keep pile, you will need a place for them. Three tiered stackable trays are a simple way to create a sustainable system, as well as standing or hanging files. Once you have a place for these, go back to the keep pile and put that into 3 small piles, labeling them: Now, Tomorrow, File, which should correlate to the trays or folders you just created. By starting and ending each day with this simple trick, not only will your desk be organized, but your mind will less cluttered as well.
If you decide it’s time to start moving toward a paperless office then you can start by scanning in and digitizing your receipts, using online invoicing and payment services, and moving to a digital signature. If you collect business cards at events during the year, it may also be a good idea to invest in a business card scanner so you can digitize contact info immediately and ditch the paper cards.
2 – Productivity Tools
We all have our favorite apps and tools we use every day, but we should take stock of the apps we have quarterly, and decide if they are still useful. This is also a great time to consider if you have some gaps and may need to invest in some new productivity apps. Below are some areas of your business that can be easily managed with apps.
Meetings and communication.
Accounting and bookkeeping.
Travel and expense tracking.
Social media management.
Productivity is a very personal process and the apps you need will be specific to you the work you do and the way you tend to work. Take time to explore what your needs are before incorporating a new tool in your process. You may not need as many as you think and too many tools can create overload as well.
3 – Get Your Computer Organized
As a small business owner who does most of his/her work on the computer, this one is very important.
It doesn’t take long for your desktop to become cluttered with icons, and your downloads folder to get filled with strangely named documents. Quickly it can become impossible to find anything. If you combine that to an overloaded email inbox, your computer can actually become a source of contention each morning. This will hinder your productivity.
Here is a list of things you can do right now to get your computer organized and back into working shape:
Clean up your desktop. It may take some time to do it, but it will it will save you hours of time throughout each week, so it will be well worth that time.
Set up a digital filing system.
Update software. If your computer is set to automatically install the application and operating system updates, great. If it’s a manual process for you, you should check for updates at least bi-monthly. Then, once a year, review the current versions of software you are using and make the decision if it’s time to upgrade.
Verify the integrity of your data backup. You are backing up your data, right? If not, skip everything else for the time being and do this one first. You can either use a Cloud-based data backup service or you can use an external hard drive that you plug into your computer.
Creating an inbox system. As small business owners we love our inbox because it’s a highly productive and efficient communication tool, yet hate it because it quickly gets out of control causing unnecessary stress. However, with some simple systems, stress can be removed and efficiency can be increased. Try limiting how often you check email during the day, designate times of day to respond to emails needing attention, and create folders to keep those organized that need attention in the future.
These few tips will help you become more efficient, effective and productive immediately, but in order for it to be sustainable, you simply need to attend to each of these as part of your daily system. Take it slow. Try on one at a time. Once you begin to feel the results, you will wonder how you survived before doing these simple tasks.