Does your office space look like a disaster area? Do you have to sieve through vast piles of paperwork to get the stuff you want? Have you ever been tardy for an appointment because you weren’t able to find an important document? You’re exactly atypical, buddy. We all have to endure lapses like this.
In elementary school we were taught that there is no such thing as “cold”; that the state we call “cold” is merely a lack of heat. Well… disorganization is just a lack of organization. It takes time to clean up the chaos you have.
I like making accounting websites for a living. Time spent organizing can feel like it’s taking away from your work, but this really isn’t true. Organizing allows you to get more done in less time in the long run, and that’s good.
Hiring an assistant is, I suppose, the standard solution. If your business is like most, however, hiring someone just to keep you organized is a waste of money. All you need to do is adopt a few simple work habits.
- For everything that you own, designate a place for it. Use labels. Whenever you use something, you’ll know exactly where they belong because of the labels. You won’t need the labels for long. Over time it will all become second nature.
- In order for everything to have a place, everything needs a place. Make sure you have enough shelf and file space for all your stuff. Not having enough storage makes organization impossible, and but buying office furniture doesn’t usually make it to the top of the priority list. Take some time to buy the stuff you need, and while you’re at it, get a place for temporary storage. Usually people have a tray or a hanger near their front door of their home, which they hang all their things there when entering, so when leaving they know where their belongings are. You can do the same thing in your office. If you’re going to have a meeting or important task that day go ahead and pull the stuff you’ll need and put it on this desk!
- Organize one aspect of your office at a time. Fix it. Then all you need to do is maintain it as you move on to the next thing.
- Clean things as you go. Don’t let things pile up. Put them away when you’re done and you’ll have a much easier time getting out of the office at the end of the day.
- Don’t waste time constantly resetting passwords and login information. This stuff is way too easy to forget. In some cases login recovery is impossible and you need to set up all new accounts at a cost of time AND money. Information like this can easily be consolidated into a single text document.
- Use a good, old-fashioned inbox. If you make it a point not to leave for the weekend until it’s empty you’ll never miss a task suffer a loose piece of paper again. You may need to use multiple inboxes. You might want one for home and one for work, or have separate boxes for sales, product development, and employee issues.
- Missing or being late for appointments can REALLY hurt your professional relationships. Use a calendar to keep track of events. I use the Google Calendar Application, but there a a score of online or desktop calendar apps that do the same things. It provides many features and anyone you allow can view it, it keeps track of personal events, and it reminds you of upcoming events by email and with on-screen pop-ups. This keeps all your scheduling in one place and makes it much easier to keep your tasks straight.
There are many techniques that you can exploit to get yourself organized. Applying these easy tricks will go a long way. The best pointer I’ve suggested is to put things back in their designated places when you finish using them.
Brian O’Connell is the CEO and founder of CPA Site Solutions, one of the nation’s most successful web firms oriented exclusively to accounting websites.