Natural organizational skills are hard to come by; however, being organized saves time and stress in the long run. There is no better time than now to invest a few hours to de-clutter and get your office full working mode. Here are 10 tips to help you get on track:
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1. Purge Your Office
Even if you don’t mind a little mess and dust, too much clutter can add to daily stress and chaos. Clutter exists because we think that everything is important. Toss out whatever is outdated, no longer relevant, or a duplicate.
For example, recycle the broken electronics you may have stashed in a closet. Delete all those old voice messages. Donate anything you don’t need or use. Keep the basics and anything you’ve used in the past year; anything else can go. When your workspace is clean and uncluttered, you’ll enjoy spending time at your desk and won’t waste time searching through junk or moving piles around.
2. Organize Your Paper Files
One study found that the average person wastes over 4 hours per week searching for papers. Go through your filing cabinets and shred anything that’s out of date or no longer relevant to your business. If you’re worried you might one day need four-year old notes from a client project, then scan the originals and throw out the paper files to make more room.
3. Ditch Paper Receipts
Considering the IRS accepts electronic copies of receipts, there’s really no reason for you to continue hanging on to all those tiny paper slips from restaurants, taxis, office supply stores, etc. Find a receipt management scanner or app for your smartphone (such as Neat Receipts) and make sure your solution lets you export data to whatever expense reporting/accounting app you use.
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4. Use the Cloud for Storage and Sharing
If you haven’t done so already, start using cloud-based tools to share and save documents. For example, Google Drive lets you store up to 15GB for free, while giving clients or colleagues access to collaborate. Other tools include Dropbox and Box. By housing files in the cloud, you can help clean up your personal storage, as well as save valuable time spent emailing documents back and forth when collaborating with others.
5. Tame Your Inbox
If your email inbox has become a catchall for every email you’ve received over the past years, it’s time to clean house. It is possible to manage your email inbox so you only see the messages you still need to deal with; everything else is neatly archived for safe keeping. Start with a clean slate by filing away everything you no longer need to respond to.
Next, tame the level of new emails you get each day by unsubscribing to the newsletters or other subscriptions you no longer read. Or create specific folders where non-essential emails go automatically, so they don’t interrupt your daily flow.
6. Get the Right Note-Taking Tool
One key to staying organized and effective as a small business owner is having the right solution for jotting down any tasks or inspirations when they strike. Whether you prefer to use pen and paper, voice recording on your smartphone, or an app like Evernote, the most important thing is that the solution fits into your lifestyle so you’ll use it consistently.
7. Tidy Up Your Social Media Profiles
It’s not just your email inbox and desktop that fall prey to clutter; your social media profiles can also become clogged and out of date. First, take stock of where your business has a social presence and drop any accounts that are no longer in use. There’s no point in having multiple Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Instagram profiles if you’re not actively posting and monitoring each account. You can also use a tool like JustUnfollow to weed out any followers who are inactive or aren’t following you back.
8. Meet with a Tax Advisor
Don’t wait until it’s time to file your returns to start thinking about taxes. Make an appointment with a CPA or tax advisor ahead of time to plan accordingly. If your business is still structured as a sole proprietor, now’s the time to think about protecting your personal assets and gaining other benefits through a formal business structure like an LLC or corporation.
9. Take Charge of Your Books
If you run a small business, you already have some kind of process in place for invoicing, processing payments, recording expenses, and tracking projects. But if you haven’t updated your process lately, chances are there’s an app out there to help make these administrative tasks easier and more efficient. Take a look at your tablet/smartphone app store for a new tool that could help you get organized and take charge of your books; for example, there’s FreshBooks, Mint, Kashoo, and InDinero to name a few.
10. Tie Up Any Legal Loose Ends
This is a perfect opportunity to tie up any loose ends you’ve been putting off in prior years. For example: Did you file a DBA (Doing Business As) for your business name? Did you get a Tax ID number? Are all your licenses and local permits in order? Did you make any changes to your corporation and LLC and still need to file an Articles of Amendment to record those changes with the state?
What things are you doing to get your business organized? Please share in the comments below.
This post originally appeared on Small Business Trends.
Nellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, small business advocate and mother of four. As CEO of CorpNet, a legal document filing service, Nellie helps entrepreneurs start a business, incorporate, form an LLC or set up Sole Proprietorships (DBAs) for a new or existing business.