If you are a small business owner, you have probably noticed that running a small business takes a lot of space. Whether you are running your business out of your home or have a dedicated workspace, you probably feel buried at times in products and paperwork. Here are a few ways of digging out of the clutter so you can work with a clean desk and a clean mind.
- Discard items you don’t need. This is the most important and simplest tip for reducing clutter, but it is the one that gives most small business owners the most trouble. While you may have a good reason for keeping certain newspapers, magazines, and other items, if you have not read or dealt with them by now, you probably won’t get to it in the near future. You should also pare back on supplies—often people buy two or three different cleaners where one will suffice. Getting rid of old and unneeded items leaves more room in your workspace and your life for the things that matter.
- Deal with paperwork as soon as you receive it. It takes the same amount of time to do the task early, and reduces the amount of paperwork lying around. When you let routine tasks like bill paying, phone calls and RSVPs pile up, you also risk losing the paper or forgetting about them entirely. The most effective managers deal with papers only once, reducing the total amount of time that each task requires.
- Keep files current. When you get a new document, discard the old one. This will make it easier to access the latest information and also reduce the space you need for files. If you must keep old documents, such as for tax purposes, staple like items together with the newest in front so you don’t have to dig to find what you need.
- Maintain electronic records where possible. Modern technology makes it easy to keep things like contacts and appointments in a small cell phone or other device. If you are worried about losing this valuable information, back it up on a computer or a CD regularly. The Rolodex went the way of the dinosaur long ago, with good reason. Digital storage takes up less space and is easier to organize.
- Invest in good organization materials. Small business owners often try to cut costs by spending less on things they perceive as ‘extras’. However, organizational materials are not an extra—they are essential to running your business in an efficient manner. Ask around and find out what works for people in your line of business. Invest in file cabinets, inboxes, time-saving software, and anything else that you think will streamline your business on a day-to-day basis.
Running a small business and building a brand is difficult enough without sifting through papers every time you need to complete a task. While it may take time and energy to get organized, you will find that it saves time in the long run and allows you to run your business more efficiently.