Are you finding it difficult to give appropriate attention to the opportunities and challenges that come up in your business? In part one of a series about home offices, we take a look at a simple system for managing your paperwork.
Perhaps the following sounds familiar…
Business owners often describe to me how this disorganisation can impact their efficiency and motivation. Many feel overwhelmed, stressed or distracted.
For some, the effect is financial — interest or fees are being incurred, or money is being left on the table due to invoices not being processed. Others say that they are missing opportunities, as leads and enquiries slip through the cracks.
‘Wouldn’t it be great to not to have to think too hard about what you need to think about?” David Allen — Getting Things Done
Decluttering and organising your office might seem like a tedious and time-consuming task that can be put off to another day, but your home office is a reflection of you and your business and putting some simple systems in place can be an instant pick-me-up with long-term benefits.
Below, I’ll outline an approach for letting go of the excess paperwork, managing what is left and implementing a comfortable level of organisation, so that you are able to lay your hands on documents quickly, be clear and current on your priorities and feel more energised, focussed and capable to reach your goals.
– A shredder and a bin
– Separate piles/zones for items that will be recycled, shredded or filed
– Some transparent files and sticky labels
– A progress tray — for items that need an action or are awaiting a response
– A large space — the floor, a dining table or kitchen worktop
– A lockable, fireproof filing cabinet and some suspension files
– A rough idea of what categories you want to set up going forward i.e. business travel, insurance, registrations, supplier contracts, event information etc. Some categories will naturally emerge as you go through the process
Organising paperwork is a great task to do with company. Enlist the help of a colleague or hire a professional organiser from the Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers (APDO)to help lighten the load. Set aside some time, grab a drink and snack and put on some motivational tunes (or check out my decluttering playlist). If weather permits, opening a window immediately creates a positive shift in energy.
Aim for short, specific and simple actions. You might need to break the task down into bite-sized chunks over a few sessions. The end result doesn’t necessarily need to be pretty or stylish, it just needs to be functional!
– Gather every piece of paper relating to your business, including any from attics or garages
– Sift through your papers, separating items into piles for shredding, recycling and filing. Try to be ruthless and lighten the load
– When setting aside those to be filed, roughly group by category i.e. financial, travel etc., and label suspension files accordingly. Ideally, set aside a section/drawer of the filing cabinet for archived paperwork
– Deal with the shredding and recycling as quickly as possible, so that you can then focus on what is left
– Go through the remaining items; depending on the volume and type of paperwork you might want to consider grouping related papers together in transparent files with a basic label on the front of each i.e. insurance policy in one, car documents in another etc.
– Any items that need an action or response should be placed in your progress tray
– Put the remaining items in the appropriate sections within the filing cabinet. Bear in mind that if any items contain personal data of clients (i.e. an address book with client’s phone numbers or invoices with the client’s name, email address and/or postal address) they should be stored securely — this includes archived paperwork.
“For every minute spent organising, an hour is earned.” Benjamin Franklin
Going forward, aim to deal with paperwork on a daily basis;
– Dispose of junk mail. Check and action bills and invoices. Place pending items in the progress tray
– File or shred everything else
– Conducting a regular (at least weekly) review of your progress tray, and scheduling/actioning any next steps, is one of the most effective ways of staying functional, clear and current on your priorities
Once the above system is in place and routinely managed, you will find that rather than searching for documents or trying to recall what is next on your to-do list, your time and attention is freed up to concentrate on business growth and client contact.
Better Organised provides productivity coaching and professional decluttering & organising services for the home or office and is accredited by APDO. Head over to Amazon to order your copy of A Better Organised Home in 30 Days!
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