When you first start your business you might find that writing on bits of paper and misplacing pen lids doesn’t matter. However, the further along you get, the more you might see that you are missing a few vital organizational things that could improve your process and productivity. The great thing about this is that the right time to get everything in order is always ‘now’.
So here are some tips to take you from a messy desk to your timetabled best.
Start with a deep clean. There is little use in implementing a great system if the room you are using is a bit on the grubby side. Think about the last time you disinfected your desk for a start. Or the light switch? Well, it is time to get that sorted. You could hire someone in to give the room a deep clean for you or get to work yourself – either way, it needs to be done.
- Hoover the carpet
- Wash and rugs
- Disinfect all surfaces (plug sockets, light switches, etc.)
- Dust down blinds
- Pull out any drawers from the desk and clean the inside
- Clean the windows
- Wipe down the door and door frame
The chances are you have a pile of small pieces of paper, and you have ‘been meaning to go through them’ for ages. Or a little tray filled with bits and pieces. Whatever you have, it is time to get rid of it. Unless you use it right now, know where the lid is, know what the wire is for – it is simply taking up room that you don’t want to give away to mess.
Take it one step further and get rid of desktop clutter, old voicemails, and any broken or unused electronics. As always, if it can be used by others, then donate it where possible.
Cloudy With a Chance of Data
If you haven’t got this in order already, then now is the perfect chance to do so. Cloud storage is a gift from the tech-gods. If you don’t want to splurge out, you can use something like Google Drive, which allows you up to 15gb of free storage. Apple has its own cloud options which have a range of pricing, as does Microsoft. Ideally, you want to look at what takes up the most memory on your computer and how you work with your clients. By making a few adjustments, you can really clean up your personal storage.
Most people are guilty of having very messy-looking desktops. With poorly named files, folders for old clients, and random screenshots. People spend a few minutes every time they need to find a file, and that is when they are in good order. If yours are a mess right now, clear a day in your diary. Make folders for each of your clients and projects. Put them in an order that makes sense. If you have old client work, create a folder for it and perhaps move it to a hard disk drive. You might like to give your old client a courtesy call, just to let them know you have the files and they will be deleted or safely store.
The chances are you have commissioned a freelancer every now and then. You might even have a few on-call that you use regularly. If you have, then you should think about neatening up how you work together too. The best way to create a work schedule is to look at what you need to accomplish and when. Not everyone works best in the morning, or at night. And, the joy of the internet means that you can work directly with people from the other side of the world.
Your social media is often the first place for the public, both potential clients and the general populous. If you have been updating Twitter every hour, but skipping out on Facebook, you might be missing a potential market. You can’t be everywhere at once, there are however options for ensuring that your content is delivered to each platform. Hootsuite, Buffer, SproutSocial, and Social Oomph are all platforms that you can collate and create months and months of material for your social media – and it will be delivered automatically. Of course, they all work within the posting guidelines for each platform, and you’ll need to create all of the content for its work. But once it is done, a monthly update and reshuffle are all you’ll need to do.
There are so many apps that can help you get your working life and business in order. A few that you might like to take a look at are:
Expensify: Which keeps track of all of your expenses. You snap a picture of your receipts and add it to a category. IT also syncs neatly with Freshbook where there are free online invoice templates you can use for your professional invoice.
Dragon Dictation: Sometimes it is easier to talk than type. You can compose notes, emails, texts, and more.
PayPal: If you take a lot of payments online, the PayPal app can help you manage your incoming and outgoings with ease. And, it has a quick notification to let you know that you’ve been paid.
Wunderlist: The free app that keeps you organized with a simple to-do list. You can set up lists, which will show your reoccurring tasks, and even assign tasks to others if you work on a team.
There is potentially nothing worse, than when a client calls you for some information, and you have to go through a pile of notes. We all start with the best of intentions to add the paper file to perhaps one file organizer with dividers. Over time, however, those good habits slip. So, just like the desktop – get a folder per client. Color coding works best here, you can coordinate your files on the desktop to the paper files too. Making it an even slicker process. If you start finding your first mock-ups or notes from years ago, then get to shredding. Keep any old contracts and invoices, because you never know when you’ll need slightly older financial information. It is a good idea to store and financial, or sensitive information in a lockable fireproof filing cabinet.
If you have a desk drawer or two, don’t risk it falling into the ‘mess’ drawer. Where you can find anything from odd paperclips to bills put in there to read at a later date. Invest in some drawer organizers. Keep paper files in your new filing system and important statements out in a mail organizer to remind you to get them paid asap. Try to keep notebooks, pens, and other stationery neatly in the draw so that if you are in the middle of a phone call, everything is within reach. If you are more on the creative side you might like to check out some Pinterest boards or youtube tutorials to create your own drawer dividers and organization tips.
‘John Cappucino’, ‘Mary’ with no last name… and on it goes. If your contacts are looking less than neat spend some time going through it. There is nothing worse than having 7 Susans in your phone and not sure which one is which. Label up your contacts as well as you can, including office addresses and email addresses where possible. If you have the odd ‘woman from XYZ’ and have never used to contact, then remove them. Once you’re done, sync them with your computer and rejoice in not having to do it twice.
This one you can do at any point. Rather than have your inbox a catchall for everything that comes through, change it to work for you. Make a point of unsubscribing from newsletters then hit your junk each day. If you aren’t making time to read it, then do yourself and the sender favor and unsubscribe. Create rules and folders so that clients go to their own mailbox space. Slowly over time, you will get a lot less junk mail and newsletters, and only receive emails that require your attention.
The reason people put off admin tasks, is because they let them get much more significant than they need to be. By avoiding simple tasks every day, they pile up and become something that consumes time and energy.
- Touch base with any employees or freelancers
- Check all of your account balances
- 30 minutes emails first thing in the morning, respond where required, send where needed
- Check your social media – things to reply to, schedule, engagement
- Tidy any mess on the desk
- Write a to-do list for the rest of the day
When it comes to your business (and your office), there isn’t really such a thing as too organized. If your processes streamline everything that you need to do, you will find you have more time to work on your business and not just in it. As well as that all-important downtime.
Being organized is key to a well-functioning productive business.