How can I get more organised?
It’s a question I hear A LOT! Everyone wants to know how they can come out from underneath the clutter and be in control of the ‘stuff’. Let me share with you a few tips to show you can you can get more organised.
Everyone wants to become more organised right? But why is organisation important in business?
Through my experience of working with both big and small businesses, I’ve come to realise that organisation is crucial for a successful business. Here’s some of the reasons good organisation is important in business:
- It helps your clients have more confidence in you.
- It allows you to serve your clients in a more timely manner because you can find what you need quickly.
- It frees up your time. (Who doesn’t love more time to make more money?)
- It can reduce your stress because you don’t have to keep all the information in your head, which can be difficult for some people.
- It helps you operate from a more proactive space than a reactive space.
How can I become more organised in my business?
The best place to start is to do a stock take of what you have. You need to know what you’re dealing with and what needs organising.
Doing a stock take can be an enlightening process. It can be a physical stock take of things you sell, hardcopy paperwork you have accumulated for your business, as well as digital stock you sell, or simply electronic files and data.
Take a long hard look at all the ‘stuff’ associated with your business. Sometimes as time goes by, we forget the things we have created, bought, or captured for our businesses. Doing a stock take gets you to look at your business holistically rather than just focusing on the parts you see every day. It also gives you an opportunity to critically look at what you use regularly and what is just taking up space.
What’s the best tool for better organisation?
Simple: it’s a filing structure.
Again, whether that’s a digital filing structure or a hard copy filing system, it’s crucial that you can find what you’re looking for, when you’re looking for it. A good filing structure helps you zero in on the information you need and easily ignore the information that’s not relevant to the thing you’re looking for.
To illustrate the point, I like to think of it this way:
Imagine you have a coaching business. Let’s assume 50% of your clients are private clients, and 50% of your clients are part of group sessions. You keep a file on each client with notes. Without a filing system to categorise the information, you have to go through 100% of the files to find the one client you’re looking for.
However, if you have two top level folders (one for Group Coaching Clients and one for Private Clients), when you’re looking for a Private Client file, you can go straight the Private Clients folder and already, you’re looking through 50% LESS files to find what you’re looking for.
This is how a filing system starts to save you time. And it definitely helps you avoid procrastination because you know where to put things.
For tips on how to set up a functional filing system, you can check out my blog https://www.theavidorganiser.com.au/how-to-create-a-functional-filing-system/
What is the most common organisational problem businesses face and how do you fix it?
In my experience, I would say email inboxes are high up the list of organisational problems in small business. Most small businesses find that they end up with too many emails (sometimes tens of thousands) and they just don’t know how to fix the chaos.
Here’s some tips to deal with your inbox:
- First, print and pdf important pieces of information and save them into your filing system. That way you don’t have to hold onto every email you receive, and it makes it easier to find the crucial information faster.
- Second, don’t rely on the search function. Use folders to strategically break down and categorise information you need.
- Get ruthless and delete them. Unless it’s legal information or you’re really worried something might come back to haunt you, assess whether they are truly needed.
To-Do Lists to the rescue
In the last year I’ve made a massive change to the way I use my email inbox and at most I would say I have 8-10 emails sitting in my inbox.
I now think of my inbox as a runway and not a to-do list. Correspondence leaves and it arrives, that’s all.
When you use your inbox to prioritise tasks, it’s constantly being impaired by all the new correspondence coming in. There are sales alerts, newsletters, and requests for information that just aren’t the most important thing for you to do. They might make you feel busy and perhaps even important, but all it does is cloud the real money-making, business-growing priorities that happen outside of your emails.
My go to task list is Asana.app – it’s brilliant because it allows me to see all my priorities in one spot. I can assign due dates, I can add subtasks, I can leave myself notes on where I got up to on tasks and even add attachments. Additionally, it’s fabulous for teams and the paid version has an integration with Outlook to add calendar reminders to your Outlook calendar.
How many apps/programs do you need to be organised?
The answer is, it’s quite subjective. I didn’t think I use that many apps or programs in my business, but when I wrote a list, there’s actually quite a lot. Some I use all the time, and others are just every now and then.
Generally, I think that it can vary depending on what kind of business you have.
- Do you have employees or are you a sole trader?
That will determine if you need a payroll system of some sort, or something with Human Resources management functions.
- How big is your client base? If you’re a product-based business, you have endless potential clients. If you’re a service-based business, your client base may be more limited.
That could determine whether you should look at some kind of CRM software. If you have ten clients, it might just be more efficient to write them an email or give them a call when you have exciting news or updates. If you have 500 clients/customers, it’s not efficient to individually email them, so a program like Mailchimp or some other CRM would be worth it. Time really is money!
Here are my go-to apps/programs:
- Outlook.com for email and calendar on my pc.
- Microsoft OneDrive for my cloud-based storage as that comes as part of my annual Microsoft 365 subscription.
- The free OneCalendar app on my phone for the calendar on the go.
- I have Canva pro subscription for social media imagery etc.
- Pro subscription with Acuity for scheduling appointments.
- Free version of Asana app for managing to-do lists and planning tasks.
- Xero for all my accounting needs.
- The free version of Jot-form to do new client information forms and gather customer feedback.
- A paid subscription for Adobe Acrobat Pro for PDFs.
- The free version of Mailchimp for newsletters and landing pages.
- Affinity Publisher, Designer and Photo (they were a once off purchase).
- I use Paypal and Stripe to link to Xero for payment options for my clients.
Essentials v’s nice-to-have
So, out of the 15 apps/programs I use regularly:
- 4 of them are free,
- 3 were once off payments,
- 2 charge fees for transactions, and
- the rest are monthly subscriptions.
It’s roughly $120 per month on apps. Whilst that is a lot of money, I’ve weighed up the bang for my buck each time I’ve committed.
Everyone will be different depending on their business. Take Canva for example. I love Canva’s pro version because it lets me upload custom fonts that suit my brand and create branding kits for each of the clients I work with. But other people might not care about that, so it would be a waste of money for them.
The apps which I consider essentials are:
- Outlook, Microsoft Calendar, OneDrive
- OneCalendar app
The rest of the programs and apps I use are nice to have, and they sure make me more efficient and more professional, but I can still do what I do without them.