When your to-do list includes making sales, providing customer service, hiring and managing employees, expanding your product or service line and a dozen other matters getting more organized may fall to the bottom of your list. But getting control of the chaos with a little organization can actually make it easier to perform all those other tasks.
In fact, getting more organized is near the top of business owner resolution lists nearly every New Year's Day. That's because better organization allows you to:
- Offer better customer service
- Spend less time running your business and more time growing it
- Increase your bottom line
- Reduce your stress levels
Clear the clutterSure, you're a busy entrepreneur, but your office doesn't have to look like a tornado just struck. Filing cabinets are a must so you can get those stacks of folders off your desk. Desk essentials include file sorters so you can easily see and reach important files and an inbox-outbox system that allows you to get things out of your way once you've completed them.
Clean up your computerA computer desktop with dozens of random items overlapping each other can prevent you from finding important documents when you need them. To eliminate the mess, create folders in MyDocuments (Windows users) or on your hard drive (Mac users). Start with broad category folders for clients, vendors and more. Then create subfolders that are more specific. To free up space on your hard drive and keep programs running optimally, transfer old files to some form of storage media.
Take control of your emailTaming your email inbox can help you access and respond to important messages quickly rather than having to scroll through hundreds of messages. Make your email easier to navigate by creating local folders for clients and vendors. Whenever you get an email from that client, drag it into the folder for safekeeping and easy retrieval. Consider creating separate email addresses for various business functions, for instance, info@ your business.com, customersupport@ your business.com and sales@ your business.com. Then schedule a time or a day to deal with each type of query.
Be a plannerIt pays to plan. Just like you wrote a business plan to start your company, it's a good idea to plan each business day for maximum efficiency. Schedule your workflow so you have chunks of uninterrupted time to complete important tasks, and remember to leave a little leeway in your daily schedule for the unexpected.
Manage your contactsYour customer service suffers if you have to waste time shuffling through stacks of business cards every time you need to return a phone call, send an invoice or submit a proposal. And if you forget to call a client because you lost the Post-It note where you scrawled a reminder, you can anger, or worse, lose the client.
- Only keep files on your desk if you're currently working on them. Otherwise, put them in the filing cabinet.
- If you haven't used a computer file in one year, it's time to transfer it to a CD or DVD for storage.
- Taking just five minutes at the end of each day to organize your desk gives you a jumpstart the next day.