Taming Desktop Chaos
Can you see the surface of your desk?
Or do you have piles of "who knows what" precariously perched everywhere?
If so, it is time toget organized!! Let's take a look at how much paper you have in your office. This is where a lot of the chaos occurs.
How well are your computer files organized?
- File your paperwork on a weekly basis. You may even consider scheduling 30 minutes on your calendar just to get organized for the week. For each piece of paper you have, decide what to do with it on the spot - throw it out, take action or file it. Once you are in the habit to keep up with your filing, it becomes a much less daunting task.
- Set up desktop vertical files so that all of the active paperwork that you need to have handy is filed correctly - color coded files work very well and are very easy to use
- When you create your paper filing system, also make a plan for how you will purge your files periodically. Your file folders should never grow so much that it includes two years of papers two inches thick. Annual files are great, as you can simply box up previous year records. Accordion files are wonderful to automatically sort my month or alphabetically.
- Switch your incoming bills to e-bills where possible.
- Send your bill payments electronically, either through your bank or via QuickBooks Online Banking.
- Send your client invoices electronically. You can attach an invoice in PDF to an email. You can even include a link in your email for your clients to pay you electronically, which can expedite payments and improve your cash flow.
- It is imperative that you have backups of all of your computer files. In fact, have two backups!
- Keep one back handy, perhaps using an external hard drive that is scheduled to back up nightly. These are helpful if you accidentally delete a needed file, or as a secondary resource to store files (such as music collections).
- Keep one backup "offsite" in case of a tragedy in your office (a computer virus or power surge, fire or flood). Online backups services such as http://www.connected.com/ are perfect as a reliable emergency backup utility.
- Set up templates for fax coversheets, envelopes, and letterhead in Word so that you don't have to create a new document from scratch every time. To learn how to create templates, see http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/assistance/HP051892651033.aspx.
- Categorize your stored electronic documents and records in a way that makes sense for you. Some possibilities are - Financial, Correspondence, Marketing, Clients, Newsletters, Website, Reference, Forms & Templates, etc.
- Don't let you're My Documents folder become an electronic wasteland! If you have to scroll too much to find something, it is time to categorize.
It is imperative that all business owners have some kind of a calendar management system. It's impossible to remember everything.
- Consolidate your calendar. You should not have to carry a separate calendar for business and personal appointments.
- Consider keeping your calendar in Outlook. You can even set up automatic formatting so that Outlook can color-code appointments based on words in the appointment. This is especially helpful for busy families! Personally, I have a different appointment color for every member of my family.
- If you have an assistant, share your calendar with them. They can then help set appointments for you, and remind you of upcoming events.
- If you have to share a calendar with several people (such as a team in the field), consider using Yahoo's Calendar. It is quite versatile, and accessible to anyone with an internet connection and the appropriate password.
- Sync your calendar with your PDA if you have one for the ultimate in portable calendar management.
Making a list helps us to focus on the task at hand, and to remember those things that tend to be forgotten.
- At the beginning of every day, take just ten minutes to make a list of what you would like to accomplish that day. Many people get a great sense of accomplishment in checking off items on their list. This is also a mood booster as you can truly see how much you can accomplish in a day.
- You can also incorporate your task list into your PDA or Outlook. Using these electronic organizers, you can also set up tasks to be automatically recurring. For example - Pay property taxes twice per year. Change your oil every three months. Reconcile your bank accounts monthly. Change your furnace filters. You get the idea...
You can find other useful Tips and Techniques on Cybertary's website at http://cybertary.com/free_tips.php. If you decide you want to get organized, but just need an extra boost of assistance, Cybertary is always ready to help.
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