When you organise your business and eliminate the clutter, you feel reenergised. You will find that you are easily motivated to get straight to work when you don’t have a hughe mess to deal with. You will save time you would otherwise have wasted looking through piles or searching for a missing document on your computer.
How can you make sure your small business is in order when you don’t have the huge budget of a large business and you only have a few employees?
Well, I’ve love organisation so let me help you. I understand the pain of fighting desperately against the disorganisation that affects every small business.
And I know that even if you’re using the best tools in your business, success can lag if you aren’t putting the right things in place to make sure you’re growing.
It’s not surprising to learn that having a disorganised desk leads to a decrease in productivity (both for the guilty party and their colleagues), an increase in workload, and lots of wasted time.
1. Manage your office space
To get started, you need to make sure your physical surroundings are neat and organised.
This ensures that you’re able to perform at your highest level. In many ways, the organisation of your entire company is determined by how organised your desk is.
To start with, make sure everything has a specific place, even if that place is in a pile of papers on your desk.
2. Plan your social media campaigns in advance
If you are running a social media campaign, you need to reduce the time you’re spending keeping things up to date online. Instead of wasting time publishing posts every few hours, you should schedule things beforehand. This simple approach could save you countless hours and help you improve your efficiency and productivity.
Another technique that could take things to the next level is instead of just writing social media posts for the next few days, why not let a tool publish them for you?
There are some great tools out there such as SoicalBee and MeetEdgar and they are a great way to manage your social media content and allow you to write social media updates once, and then have them sent out multiple times afterward.
This is a great way to keep things organised without repeating yourself by constantly updating your social feeds
3. Go paperless
If you want to reduce the clutter and management that are associated with all the papers you need to keep up with, it might be time to go paperless.
This means that, instead of keeping track of dozens of files and folders all the time, you just reduce everything to digital copies.
Here are a few of the benefits you could see from moving your business to paperless documents and forms:
- Save money and a tremendous amount of storage space.
- Streamline and accelerate critical business processes.
- Make accessing documents and information faster and easier.
- Reduce the time and cost of editing, changing, and redistributing documents and forms.
- Protect documents from getting lost or, worse, destroyed.
- Improve the security of your data and confidential information.
If you need to share these files with a team of individuals, I recommend keeping your files in a program like Dropbox. This ensures that everyone in your business is up to date with the most recent documents, but you don’t have to worry about extensive file management offline.
4. Organise your passwords
If you’re like most people, you have one of two systems for managing your passwords. Either you use the same password all the time for different websites, or you constantly forget the passwords you’ve set for each site.
Instead of either of these, how about a third system and let an app handle your passwords for you.
Yes, you can do this automatically in a browser like Chrome. I recommend using LastPass to manage your passwords. This is a program that stores your passwords together in the mobile and desktop app and you only have one master password to remember!
5. Keep track of notes in the cloud
If you write notes, to-do items, ideas, and contact information on scraps of paper or whatever’s closest, it’s time to get more organised.
While you probably already know that OneNote is a fantastic way to organise your notes, you should start implementing it immediately.
My organised mind appreciates OneNote’s basic structure. You create individual notebooks; within each notebook, you can create section groups that contain multiple sections. Each section has individual pages, with each page a separate note. It’s ideal for organising content with a logical structure.
Evernote is another great tool for this.
6. Keep your computer’s desktop organised
Just like your physical desk should be clean and in order to help you stay organised and get work done, your digital desktop should be clean and organised, too.
A good rule of thumb is that if you can’t see your desktop background, you should work to reduce and remove the items cluttering your computer.
Once you’ve cleaned up your main screen, consider eliminating your downloaded files and removing any links or other files you aren’t using. You can even clean out your trash and save some hard drive space.
This is a great way to provide a refreshing look at your work processes that will help you stay organised.
7. Implement a scheduling system
If you have frequent meetings, video chats, or windows for others to schedule times to work with you, you need a way to manage those time blocks effectively.
Most people tend to use back-and-forth emailing and calendar invites to schedule events like this.
But the continuous adjustment of schedules can be taxing and a waste of time. Instead, find a perfect time to meet using a program like Acuity.
Acuity lets others schedule a time to work with you, so you don’t need to message back and forth at all.
It’s a simple way to stay in contact with others without the confusion that usually accompanies scheduling hassles.
8. Track your time
As a business owner, it is important that you keep track of your billable hours. But even if you don’t need to track hours to ensure you get paid, it’s a good idea to start using a program like Toggl.
By creating separate projects and tasks in Toggl, you can easily keep track of the hours you’re putting in to reach your most important goals. Instead of wondering why you haven’t met the benchmarks you set earlier, you can use Toggl to stay organised and track how you’re spending your most valuable resource — your time.
9. Manage your finances online
For a lot of years, most business owners used a desktop version of QuickBooks. It was helpful, but they rarely took the time that was needed to actually sit down and reconcile their accounts. So, when they finally did, it was a long, arduous process. That can all change when you switched to an online accounting tool.
Cloud-based bookkeeping tools can work wonders to get your books organised and keep them that way. They integrate right into your bank account, pull transactions, and match them up with your entries. And perhaps the best feature of all is that through the mobile apps, you can reconcile your accounts anywhere and anytime—like when you’re waiting for your oil to be changed, for instance.
Xero is a powerful all-in-one solution for your business. Run everything smoothly, keep tidy records, and make compliance a breeze.
10. Tame your inbox
Email is by far the most dreaded part of any workday. It’s notoriously known for keeping you distracted, especially if you’re constantly checking messages.
Rather than periodically checking your inbox, opening emails, and then pushing responses aside for a later time, try this: Designate one to two blocks of time every day (in the morning and in the afternoon) where you place your full attention on checking and responding to emails. Doing this will keep emails from interrupting your work, and will ensure your inbox is kept up to date and oraganised.
11. Hire a Virtual Assistant
Mundane, repetitive tasks can suck the energy right out of you. Yet, they have to be done to keep your business running. If you’ve ever wished you had an assistant but weren’t in a place to hire one yet, a Virtual Assistant (VA) is what you’ve been waiting for.
VAs are self-employed workers who remotely offer affordable, on-demand administrative services. Need someone to create a business presentation? What about someone to schedule appointments? Yep, a VA can do all that.
A VA can do just about anything you need, from communicating with your clients to helping you with strategic decisions. VAs who are experienced are guaranteed to make your life 100 times more productive. How? You have more time to focus on what is important — growing your business.
12. Write a To-Do list and actually use it!
To-do listing is the universal language in the world of business organisation. The problem is that few people ever actually follow up with their lists. What’s the point of writing to-do lists if you don’t use them as a reference for your work priorities? Here are a few tips that will encourage you to keep up with your to-do list:
- Jot down everything you need to get done (it doesn’t have to be in any particular order, just dig into your stream of consciousness and write down the tasks as they come to mind).
- Group related tasks that could be completed together or in the same block of time.
- Number your list according to priority level and rearrange as needed. Hint: people often mistake quantity-heavy tasks as being more important than quality-heavy tasks. Nothing could be further from the truth. Priority should be based on a combined system of time sensitivity, productivity, and correspondence. For example, if I complete task A, I will be able to complete task B and C in less time and with less effort, so task A should be the first order of business.
- Create smaller to-do lists under larger to-do bullets. This will help you coordinate the completion of a specific project and encourage you to continue working towards your larger goal.
- Mark things off as they are completed. You will feel a sense of ease and accomplishment when you visually see a list of tasks with checkmarks.
While good old paper and pen work fine for simple to-do lists, however a cloud-based app such as ClickUp can manage your tasks, even when you’re on the go.
Small business owners are required to wear many hats. This means having to balance many tasks efficiently and effectively. If a business’ systems are not properly organised, tasks pile up, paperwork gets lost and valuable time is spent on finding information that should be readily available. Good organizational skills can save a business owner time and reduce stress.
With over 20 years of experience as an Executive Assistant, Amy Martin leads the Business Support Team at Total Eclipse Agency.
Offering impeccable attention to detail, and an innate skill at streamlining business operations, Amy’s background encompasses both corporate and government sector support and she brings this knowledge and skill set to your business via our Business Support Services.