Disorganization can often be the overarching dilemma that’s keeping your business from succeeding. Whether it’s physical paper clutter or the disorganized chaos inside your head, none of it is helpful to the well-being of you or your business.
Staying organized day-in and day-out doesn’t have to be an unattainable goal. Yes, some days will inevitably introduce obstacles you simply cannot clear. But you can still set yourself up for success by following some of these practical tips to keep you feeling light and focused every day.
Declutter your workspace
Your desk is the most important place in your business. Your main goal should be to always leave a clean desk at the end of the day, so the next morning you’re not scrambling to catch up.
Utilize a desktop organizer or file sorters to organize loose papers. Channel Marie Kondo and use boxes or other containers to divide paperwork into manageable and neat-looking categories.
Vertical storage like shelving units can expand your available storage space more than you’d imagine. Items used often should be easily accessible so you don’t waste valuable time looking for them. Items or files that you only refer to every once in a while don’t have take up space on your desk; they can be neatly stored in closets, shelves, or in the filing cabinet. And if there are items you haven’t used in a long time, consider junking them or setting up a donation bin.
When new papers or files are sent your way, deal with them immediately so they don’t start stacking up. Try to keep your “deal with it later” piles at a minimum.
A cluttered workspace leads to a cluttered mind. Keeping your workspace clean means less distractions; you’ll spend a lot less time moving piles around and more time working.
Keep a paper planner
This may sound a bit old-school in today’s digital age, but studies have shown that the physical act of writing things down is much more beneficial than typing or inputting tasks and notes into an app.
Writing down your tasks helps your brain retain and process the information more comprehensively than typing them. You won’t have to keep looking back at your screen, which puts you more at risk to succumbing to the never-ending distractions of the cyber world.
Productivity and organization apps seem beneficial to staying organized, but keeping track of information from app to app can be frustrating, overwhelming, and ironically time consuming. Keeping a physical planner to track everything pertaining to your business, all in one place, will help you stay organized in every aspect. If you’re going to keep one helpful paper product in your office, let it be this.
Custom online print shops like PurpleTrail allow you to create a customized planner that’s unique to your schedule. Choose your own start month and inside page layout that best fits your business. You can even customize the cover with your company name and logo. Add appointment trackers, password logs, or account trackers for maximum organization.
Think of your main priorities and set deadlines
Neil Patel, a Forbes contributor and masterful entrepreneur, makes the point that “staying organized is as much about what you choose not to do as it is about what you choose to do.”
Walk into the office every morning with a few main priorities you need to get done that day. Don’t overload yourself with too many tasks; this won’t do anything but cause you to spiral into the dark pits of anxiety instead of getting the important work done. If your to-do list is miles long, you won’t feel very accomplished when you’re unable to check off all the boxes.
Set deadlines for yourself, whether these are page markers in your planner, or alerts and alarms on your phone. Breaking up tasks by deadline helps you stay on track and prioritize what needs to get done and by when. Again, make sure your task list and deadlines are feasible for each day. The act of physically crossing all the tasks off your list will make you feel productive and more accomplished than ever.
Manage physical and digital files
Decide what can go paperless and what needs to be kept in physical form. Most paperwork associated with bills and expenses are now available or accepted in digital format, but there are some forms of paperwork that might be best filed away, like employment and tax records, legal documents, or other sensitive information.
While going completely paperless will help declutter your physical workspace, digital systems are often not fully protected against system crashes or potential security breaches.
If you’re going to keep physical paperwork around the office, make sure to have an organizational system in place so you don’t waste hours finding the right file. Set yourself a reminder every couple of months to organize your filing cabinets by shredding anything that’s out of date or no longer needed.
If you’d like to reduce the amount of paper in the office, consider convenient scanning apps to scan your paperwork into digital form, or online invoicing and payment services. Cloud-based storage like Dropbox and Google Drive also opens up opportunities for easy collaboration and digital file-sharing with employees.
Every business owner develops their own rhythm when it comes to getting things done, but it often begins with essential organizational systems and habits to set your business up for success. As soon as you take the steps to declutter the ins and outs of your business, your mind is sure to follow suit.