Small business owners work really hard. You probably feel like you spend 48 hours every day just focusing on ways to increase sales and save money. Each year, you may resolve to get organized, but that resolution falls by the wayside. The reality is that you certainly have no time to worry about whether the workplace is clean and tidy.
As it happens, though, organized surroundings let you get more done in less time. This is not a New Year’s resolution that you should dismiss. If you allocate some time to recognizing your organizational needs — and then identify your personal organizational style — you’re likely to find that your business goals become more achievable.
First, Identify Your Organizational Needs
Do you spend too much time looking for information? Are you tripping over stacks of file folders around your desk? Are you regularly delaying vital project checkpoints and deadlines? These are just a few signs that you need to get organized.
Customers are another consideration (particularly prospective new customers). Your workplace’s appearance represents their first impression of your business. Chaotic surroundings are a signal to shop elsewhere. Tidy surroundings earn points toward sales.
It all starts with identifying the issues that you need to solve, so think hard about the things that are slowing you down, and ask all employees to do the same. Then, compile a list and prioritize your needs.
Set Goals Based on Your Organizational Style
One organizing solution does not fit everyone. Some people operate on the saying that a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind. Others (like me) operate on the motto, out of sight, out of mind. Neither group can change who they are, so you have to figure out who everyone in your company is and then use that reality to find solutions that work for all.
If you’re a neat freak, then out of sight is the right way to go. Keeping in mind that your employees may not all share your need for tidiness, you will want to find ways to put things away so that you know where they are when you need them without having to see them every minute.
If you or any of your employees are like me, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get organized. There is any number of ways to keep things in plain view without appearing out of control.
Do the Research Needed for Solutions
In spite of my personal organizational style, I love browsing office supply and storage solutions stores . I can spend lots of money buying everything in sight — which actually makes a bigger mess in my work space.
A word of advice: avoid shopping until you do the research that identifies what you really need. Internet searches are an obvious first step, if you do it right. For example, a search for office organization solutions will yield mostly office supply advertising. Change that to office organization ideas, and you’ll get more articles. If you have a home office, then put home in front of either of them to customize your search.
As you do your research, always keep your organizational goals and your personal style in mind. First, identify the ideas that will really meet all of your needs. But, don’t start shopping until you envision your ability to use the solutions that you find. Sure, beautiful new file cabinets will get papers out of sight. But, if you’re like me, then you might find more value in attractive vertical racks that keep the folders neat and tidy, but in front of you so you don’t forget about them.
Don’t do your research in a vacuum. Your employees should get directly involved. Members of your personal and professional networks might have good ideas, too. Once you have a list of ideas that really excite you, you can go shopping. But, maybe you should finish reading this article first.
Don’t Forget Technological Assists
You may or may not be ready to pursue a paperless office, but getting the paper in your workplace under control involves much more than simply scanning documents and storing them in a folder somewhere. Your workplace can benefit greatly by electronic file solutions, but they are only the first step.
Countless activities take place within your business every day, not always within the walls of your workplace. You can’t stay organized unless you and your entire team keep each other informed, virtually in real-time. The following apps are examples of technological assists that can help:
- Robust project management software: Unless your project teams remain locked in a room together for the duration, members need to stay aware of frequent changes. Project management software gives everyone a single place to create and receive updates.
- Smart phone apps: Everyone on the road should have apps that plug into essential software and data that they have on the office computer. If they can connect to office email, accounting systems, word processing, client files and everything else that they need, they will have access to up-to-the minute information and be able to collaborate on the fly.
- The Cloud and security: Of course, none of this will be possible without an accessible place to store information. And that information will be at risk if you can’t properly secure it from the outside world and from employees who don’t need to know absolutely everything. I strongly recommend that you start reading our informative series on cybersecurity, since this is a battle that you can’t afford to lose.
Doing all of this correctly is not a piecemeal process. If you don’t have the technical knowledge to develop a solid plan, find a consulting company or individual whom you trust to get it all done.
The Right System Helps You Accomplish More in Less Time
Look around. Does everyone in your business seem unduly stressed out because they can’t find anything? Do people in and out of the office have issues helping customers due to poor communications? Do visiting customers turn green when they walk in and see a disorganized mess? These are all clear signs that you can’t afford to ignore your New Year’s resolution to get organized.
If you take an thoughtful approach today to start getting organized, you’ll find that you can get more done in less time. And, your customers will notice the difference, too.