As you may have learned during your time as a small business owner or direct seller, getting organized and staying that way are two completely different things. Both can be daunting, but the long-term maintenance of your organization system is essential to the success of your business, and your own sanity as well. Follow each daily suggestion below to gradually put your life in order.
- Day 1 – Get a handle on the daily flow of paperwork. You most likely have an inbox for mail and other documents that appear on a regular basis. Instead of letting it accumulate to the point of overwhelming capacity, deal with each piece right away. For example, when you open a piece of mail, only give yourself two options: file it or toss it. You’ll be amazed by how much open space you’ll have on your desk!
- Day 2 – Label everything. If you get a good labeling machine, this will be an easy and even fun task. Label anything you need to maximize your organization systems, like file folders and storage containers. Because where everything goes will be clearly visible, putting everything in its place when you’re finished with it will take no time at all.
- Day 3 – Sort your emails. Using the same principle as the first two suggestions above, treat your emails the same way you would treat any piece of paper: file or toss. In this case, filing means sorting your emails into a folder or label system that works best for the needs of your business. Categories could include Priority, Accounting, Customer Service, Vendors, Inventory, etc. This can be especially helpful when searching for an old email as well. Certain email programs, like Gmail, even allow you to sort emails into more than one category if needed. As soon as you have finished reading and/or responding to an email, either move it to one of your folders or delete. Now, just like your desk, your inbox will be sparkling clean!
- Day 4 – Create a correspondence window. Set aside a certain amount of time each day devoted solely to email and phone correspondence. This way you’re not taking calls and answering emails all day long, which can inhibit productivity. Furthermore, you will be able to return communications to customers and vendors in a consistently timely manner, something that everyone with which you do business will certainly appreciate.
- Day 5 – Keep your eye on the prize. Either at the start or end of each day, create a to-do list of 3 tasks that MUST be completed that day. You can always add more if you finish all 3. As you work throughout your day, always refer back to that list. Check off what you have completed and move onto another task. This doesn’t always mean that a to-do list can’t be adjusted, but giving yourself a general outline of your day will help you stay on track. Most people also take a little bit of pleasure in crossing off a task, so make it a regular part of your work day!
Organization requires patience and self-discipline, two qualities you most likely already possess as an entrepreneur. Incorporate a new method of organization everyday into your business so that by the end of the week you’ll be completely organized, and then make it a habit. By organizing as you go, you will find yourself with more time to focus on other areas that need lots of attention, like advertising and customer service.
How do you stay organized? What systems do you recommend? Please share your tips in the comments section.
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