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- Always Say Thank You!
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- #navSMBchat for July: Dealing with Rejection as a Business Owner
- How to Manage Millennials in the Workplace
- #BrotherSmallBiz Tweetchat
Spring Cleaning: Organizing Your Business without Breaking the Bank
After yet another winter most of us would like to forget, spring has finally arrived, bringing the promise of warmer—and hopefully busier days. To get ready for the brighter days ahead, you need to do some spring cleaning, figuring out what you have, what you need, what you can fix and what you can throw out!
Let’s Start with Technology
Upgrading outdated technology, whether it’s your operating system or your hardware (desktop, laptop or mobile device), is critical to ensuring the maximum efficiency, security and mobility of your small business.
Explore moving your business to the cloud. There are cloud solutions for nearly every business activity, from keeping track of expenses to storing files to accounting and CRM. Investing in cloud services not only saves you time and money, but is an organizational boon as well. There are a lot of organizational tools in the cloud, including calendars, project management systems and to-do lists. Less paper equals less clutter, which makes you more productive and efficient.
Building a More Organized Mousetrap
I’ve read countless books and articles over the years on time management, improving organizational skills and increasing productivity. Many experts recommend creating processes to help you do all of the above. Consider this popular business maxim: Touch items once and take action on them. There are numerous ways you can apply this concept to improve your organizational behavior. Think about your email. Don’t you wish there were methods to get (and keep) it under control? There are! When dealing with email, there are three basic—and immediate actions you can take: Reply to it, delete it or, if it’s not a top priority, put it in a folder to review later.
In my business, I have four main folders for emails—and my to-do lists. They are:
- Urgent: The items that need action—yesterday! I rank the items on this list by the amount of time each one will take. Then I start with the most time-consuming items in the morning, when I have the most energy, and save the shorter urgent items until the afternoon. The only exception is when an item has a higher sense of urgency…then I will handle that one first.
- Important: These items need action today, but aren’t urgent—yet. Once I finish the urgent list, I tackle my “important items” list.
- Every Day: I don’t even think about these items until I’ve dealt with the urgent and important matters.
- Non-Essential: Like my Every Day list, these items should not be considered until everything else is completed. In addition, you should seriously consider delegating these items to an assistant (virtual or in your company), someone else at your company or an intern. Letting them focus on getting the every-day and non-essential items done for you, frees you up to tackle the urgent and important tasks.
When business gets chaotic or stressful, business owners sometimes gravitate towards the every-day and non-essential lists. It makes them feel as if they are being productive, when in fact all they’re doing is busy work.
If you’re drowning in paper (old files, magazines or articles you intend to read one day, or lists of your passwords) toss them. You can scan what you need into your computer, look up the articles online and save them in a cloud app, such as Pocket or Evernote and find a program to store your passwords.
In fact, consider going paperless. A paperless workspace reduces clutter and makes important papers easier to find. Cloud-based file storage solutions such as Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive or Apple’s iCloud are affordable options for small businesses to maintain and organize critical business documents throughout the year.
This is also a good time to literally clean your computers and other devices. You can try this yourself or take your computer in for a checkup (I am a big fan of Staples EasyTech Total Support). But first, be sure to back up your important files (on a hard drive or in the cloud). Your hardware and peripherals are likely much dirtier than you think. Take time to clean your keyboards (use compressed air), monitor screens and check the batteries in your mouse or wireless keyboards. Chances are your computer is riddled with viruses and malware you don’t even know you have—that’s when you go to Staples for some EasyTech Total Support.
Check your printer as well. Do all the parts move smoothly? Are you up-to-date on manufacturers’ updates? Is the printer free of paper bits? Make sure you have extra cartridges on hand, so you’re never caught short without ink.
A recent Staples Small Business Survey found better organization rated as one of the top three tactics small businesses plan to use to meet their 2015 goals. And, thanks to Staples, I now have several new tools at my disposal to be more efficient and effective while spring cleaning and saving time in the process. In my office, I now have:
- Office Chair – There are few things more important in an office than your chair. Make sure it’s at the right height so that your feet are flat to the floor, and that you have enough back support to sit up properly. As comfortable as your new chair may be, don’t forget to get up every 30-45 minutes to stretch your legs and walk around. It will clear your mind and help you get some exercise. My chair of choice is the Staples Montessa II Luxura Manager chair…it’s adjustable tilt tension and tilt lock to help customize my chair to fit my needs.
- Three-Ring Binders with Dividers – The Staples Better Binders hold any paper items related to my biggest projects. I now have easier access to critical information as does my assistant. Why I love also is the D-ring of these binders allows it to hold more paper than the standard binder. You can also purchase the Better Binder with Removable FileRings which allows you to remove the ring from your binder and put it into a file drawer or file boxes.
- Cleaning Products – As I wrote earlier, it’s not enough just to have an organized office you should have a clean one too. Thanks to Staples, I now have eco-friendly cleaning supplies such as the Sustainable Earth by Staples all-purpose cleaner and multi-purpose cleaning wipes. I use these products to clean my computer screen, clean my workspace and keep my office as germ-free as possible.
Getting It Done
Spring-cleaning your business takes time and effort on your part. In the end, cleaning up and getting organized will save you time, money and enable you to be more productive. Your efforts this year will minimize the time you have to spend on spring-cleaning next year.