Whether you’re starting a home based business, a start-up, or you’re already established, you need to read this article. If you’re disorganized, you’re going to create more work for yourself and you aren’t going to work at your fullest potential. In order to maintain organization in your office, you’ll need to have systems in place for processing day to day functions.
Here are 8 systems you’ll need:
Process your mail. Many people have difficulty with paper management. Most have difficulty setting up and following through with a system. I can’t stress this enough: Process your mail every day. As soon as you touch it, either file it, attach to your to- do list to take care of during the week, shred it or handle it right away. It will be easier to take 5 minutes and tackle it when it arrives than to spend hours on it at the end of the month.
Process your email. Create categorized folders. Have a process to handle an email as soon as you open it. Treat it just as you would treat your physical mail. Decide whether to send it to a folder, trash it, act on it, or print it and attach it to your to-do list.
Work with a to-do list. Keep a daily to-do list. Make a to-do list every night before you leave work. You’ll know exactly what you need to do when you arrive to work the next day. This process will keep you on track with your day. Clear the mental clutter by getting things out of your head and onto paper. The less clutter you’re carrying around in your mind, the better.
Filing systems. Without filings systems, piles will form and chaos will ensue. If you need to locate an important paper, you should be able to locate it in less than 10 seconds. Keep files that you utilize on a daily basis close to you. Files that you use less frequently, you can keep in another area of the office. I’ve seen many important business deals that fell through, found significant sums of money and very important documents in piles of papers on desks because business owners didn’t have filing systems in place.
Keep track of your bills. If you’re receiving bills through the mail, create a system where the bills aren’t lying around on your desk buried under papers. Incorporate due dates into your calendar to remind you to pay and file immediately after you pay them.
Business cards. Every business owner I work with has issues with business cards. You must develop a system to file your business cards. Whether it is through electronics or good old rolodex, or a binder with clear card inserts, you must have a system. Be realistic, how often do you refer to them?
Workspace. Have a place for everything at your desk. Only keep items you use on a daily basis on your desk top. Have an organized pile that you need to work on the next day with your to-do list on top of the pile. Try to avoid having a corkboard at your desk with too much information pinned to it. Less is more. Utilize drawer organizers and organizing supplies to keep you organized.
Time management. Be as efficient and productive as you can be. If you’re a disorganized person, you have to get organized in order to have great time management skills. Take a look at your physical space, get organized and then you’ll realize that your time management skills may fall into place. Look at the way you function. I’m always trying to find an easier way to do something. How long does it take you to complete a task? Can you take it from 8 steps to 4?
Just because your fellow business owners have a smooth system that works for them, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Evaluate how you function and create a system that works for you. The more complicated the system, the more likely it is to failure. Keep the system simple and streamlined. Many offices I work with have made attempts at getting organized, but the systems have failed and a new attempt at another system was never made. Once you create a system, re-visit the system in a couple of months and tweak what isn’t working to make it work better for you.
Kristin M. MacRae, Organizing & Efficiency Expert, Owner, Organizing In RI, LLC