When you’re starting a new business, the excitement is often palpable. You make sure all of your bases are covered. You leave no stone unturned. You want everything to be as efficient and organized as possible so you can hit the ground running and make your way down a road of success.
But, as the wheels of your business start turning, it’s easy to let go of some of that organization. Let’s face it, you’re busy. But, that doesn’t mean you don’t realize the importance of organization. In fact, a survey conducted by Office Depot found that 83% of business owners believe having an organized office is vital.
Organization leads to success. So, while you may have all of the tools and resources you need to start a new business, it’s just as important to keep things organized once that business is up and running. Thankfully, staying on top of things doesn’t have to be a daunting tax. In fact, the more organized your business is, the less stressful your daily operations will likely be.
With that in mind, let’s cover a few tips you can start using right away to keep your business more organized.
#1: Declutter as Much as Possible
The “minimalist” lifestyle isn’t just something homeowners do. It’s something you should consider doing in your office space, too. Take a look at your desk, or the shared office space. Does it look busy? Distracting? Cluttered?
A cluttered space can reduce productivity, make it harder to find the things that are needed, and can actually increase stress levels.
One way to physically declutter desk space is to set a “desk budget” for yourself and give everything on your desk a price. For example, if your desk budget is $100, your computer might be worth $50 of that. Then, you have to decide what other items are worth, and what you’re willing to remove from your desk in order to stay under budget.
Another easy option to get rid of a lot of clutter in the office is to go paperless! Paper is the third-largest pollutant in the U.S. and Canada to air, land, and water. By turning your office into a paperless environment, not only will you be more organized, but you’ll be doing your part to encourage sustainability.
#2: Deal With Your Documents
Speaking of going paperless, one issue businesses often complain about is not having an adequate system for digital documents. But, thanks to advancements in today’s technology, that just isn’t true. In fact, going digital with your documents can save you time and money. Did you know that 4 weeks of time is lost each year waiting on lost, misfiled, or mislabeled physical documents?
Going digital takes away that risk, since you can easily search for whatever document you’re looking for. Programs like Evernote and Genius Scan make it easy to scan existing physical documents into your system. But, you can also create new documents, even complex PDF reports using products like c# itextsharp.
If you decide to upload all of your documents to a cloud-based system, you will also help to eliminate confusion between employees and teams. This gives everyone access to the documents they need to see, share, and collaborate on without having to wait. Changes are made in real-time, which saves time. If you’re worried about security, do your research on cloud tools and just how secure they actually are. In fact, 93% of enterprises use multi-cloud services. The COVID-19 pandemic made cloud-based document storage more relevant and more important than ever, so you can count on its level of security.
#3: Take Advantage of To-Do Lists
It might seem like the oldest trick in the book, but that’s because it has lasting power. If you aren’t creating “to-do” lists for yourself each day, then you’re probably not as organized as you could be.
That doesn’t mean jotting down a few things you need to do and then not following through. The whole point of a to-do list is to accomplish what is written on it every day. So, before you leave work each evening, make your list for the following day and number each item as it ranks in priority.
If you’re worried about things not getting done, there are a few things you can do to make it easier on yourself, including:
- grouping similar tasks together or things that you could do at the same time;
- creating smaller tasks/bullet points underneath larger ones;
- physically checking things off as you complete them in order to stay motivated.
When you look at your list at the end of the day and everything is checked off, the sense of accomplishment you feel is truly unlike anything else. By encouraging all of your employees to create lists of their own each day can help to boost productivity, so there is less time to become unorganized.
#4: Hire a Virtual Assistant
The gig economy is growing at a rapid pace. While there were already millions of people doing freelance or contract work before, the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted the gig economy even more.
That can benefit you as a business owner, especially if you’re overwhelmed with more of the mundane tasks you have to complete every day. A virtual assistant is a self-employed, remote worker that will help you to stay organized and on top of your daily tasks by taking care of things that might otherwise eat up your time. A virtual assistant can help with things like scheduling appointments, communicating with clients, or even putting together presentations for you.
When you have more of your time cleared up, you can focus on more pressing matters, and you’ll be more likely to stay organized and productive.
Don’t let the financial aspect of hiring a virtual assistant turn you off automatically. If the reason you don’t have an in-house assistant is because you can’t afford one, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to afford a freelancer. It all depends on your needs and what that particular VA specializes in. Don’t be afraid to shop around and hire the best fit.
#5: Take Care of Your Emails Immediately
Take a look at your email inbox right now. Does it have a little red dot staring back at you? What does that number say? Is it greater than 10, 20….is it over 100?
Far too often, business owners and employees alike let emails sit in their inboxes for too long. Maybe they’re nothing more than SPAM, or maybe they are messages that don’t require an immediate response.
But, when your inbox starts to get clogged up, it can easily cause you to feel overwhelmed. You also put yourself at risk of not responding or even seeing something that could be important.
In order to keep your emails more organized, get in the habit of taking care of them immediately. If something is SPAM or trash, delete it. Otherwise, take the time to respond right away, even if something doesn’t require your immediate attention. When you respond, you’re ensuring that you don’t forget about that particular email when it does become important later.
If you don’t have time to answer every email as it comes in, then dedicate a certain time of day to organizing your inbox. Even 30 minutes of your time can make a big difference in clearing out the clutter and keeping you on top of things. Doing that once in the morning when you get to work and once in the afternoon before you leave is a great way to make sure you don’t miss anything important and don’t get buried underneath a mountain of messages.
#6: Find a Work-Life Balance
When your business isn’t organized, it can contribute to extra stress, and extra time spent at work for you and your employees. While that might not seem like such a big deal, it can actually impact everyone’s mental health.
Finding a work-life balance is important for everyone. Unfortunately, if your employees have to work long hours, answer emails or phone calls at home, or they’re constantly bombarded by an overload of projects, that work-life balance can suffer.
Time management is extremely important for you, as a business owner, and for your employees. Make sure you are encouraging a healthy work-life balance for yourself and the people you work for. Keeping your business organized will make it easier for everyone to accomplish this. As a result, you can expect fewer sick days from your employees, and increased productivity in the office. You can start by suggesting ‘productivity breaks’ during the workday. Encourage your employees to take 10-15 minute breaks every so often to walk around, get outside, or to stretch.
There are so many benefits to keeping your business organized. So, while staying busy and pushing forward on your path to success is exciting (and important), don’t forget about the things that will keep you focused. Stay organized, and that path to success will be free of clutter, and easier to walk down.