Let’s Get Organized
I have a confession to make. I REALLY like organization. I tell my kids everything should have a place when they are cleaning and if everything has a home, then it makes cleaning a lot easier. My poor husband has to put up with my constant cleaning and everyone knows that Saturday morning at our house is a day of scrubbing.
This need to be organized transfers over into all aspects of my life. I am a menu planner, a list maker, and am always looking for a way to multitask (no joke, right now I am running updates on a couple of websites as I write).
Now I don’t tell you this to brag or even sell my services, but I think as small business owners we wear many hats. In a recent article, by US News it says, “Self-employed people wear many hats, namely, all of them.” Most small business owners are the accountants, the marketing department for both advertising and social media, logistics manager, web designers, graphic designers, and that is just to name a few. Sometimes we spend so much time on all the other stuff, we find it hard to focus on our actual business (you know the one you really wanted to start and sometimes wonder why you don’t have more time to run). And finally this leads me to why I am actually writing this article, I think we as small business owners can learn from one another. You may be a landscaping company and I might own a web design firm, but we all have similarities in the way we run the backend of our company.
I think the biggest way to help me get and stay organized is how I set up files on my computer. Don’t be afraid to have sub-folders of sub-folders. Whenever I get a new client or even a prospective client, I set up a file for them on my computer and on my email. I save all email correspondence for and from them on that file in my email. I have a folder named Clients where I can add all my subfolders for that client and I even go a step farther to make folders within their client folder for images, content, and all the standard paperwork like contracts. I think the big idea is if it makes sense to you and is in some kind of organized fashion, it will save you lots of time searching for that one email or one invoice. Whether it be files on my computer or files on my email, one thing is for sure folders work!
I don’t know how much I really need to say on this. We have passwords for EVERYTHING. It used to be that we had one password for all accounts and it probably was something like heather123. We have since learned that using numbers in order and your name is an easy way for your account to be hacked and that you should not use the same passwords for everything because that is like a treasure chest for hackers.
If you are like me for a long time you either had a piece of paper with all your passwords on it or a file on your computer with all your passwords. Well if your computer crashes and you don’t have a backup, then you are left with trying to figure out all your passwords again. Or what if your paper is accidentally thrown away(has totally happened to me), then again you are left trying to either remember or use that lovely forgot my password button on all of your accounts.
My solution is to use a password manager app. You may be questioning their safety, but I can tell you it is way better than that piece of paper or that file on your computer and it usually has some kind of gateway to allowing you to sign in quickly to all your accounts because it recognizes the web address (BONUS!). I have not tried out a variety, but I do like LastPass. They allow me to set up different sections for entertainment, business, clients, or customized the sections yourself. LastPass has seriously saved me tons of time and is a great resource.
Google Drive is incredible for projects. My clients can send add all their files, images, and videos in one place then invite me to collaborate. No more gigantic email chains! I really can’t say more, other than it’s a game changer. It really does open up a lot of avenues for sharing information.
The Task Master
I know you just started thinking about your to-do list and I apologize now for that, but organizing our to-do list can make our life much easier. There are a variety of apps that can really help you with your to-do list. A couple that are great to use for teams are Asana and Basecamp. I have used Asana more and I love that it allows you to automate to-do lists. I go through the same steps when creating a new website with a client so having an already done to-do list is perfect. I can keep track of where I am on the project and make notes too. I can even invite others to collaborate including clients. If you are looking for an app, I would Google project or to-do apps to find one that works best for your business.
I can’t say I do anything fancy here. There are a lot of calendar and appointment apps, but I have felt the need to use any of them. I personally just use my calendar app on my phone, which is synced to Google. This is probably more of a personal preference for most. I have a friend who needs to have one of the large paper calendars on her desks or else she overbooks herself. There is definitely something to be said about seeing everything on paper, but for me, my calendar app on my phone works perfectly. I still feel like I can see everything.
I feel like we could do another whole article with organizing our businesses. There are some pretty terrific apps that help to organize our electronic information. I haven’t even touched the financial aspect of organizing your business, nor will I. That seems like another post by someone more qualified like a trained professional. I hope this article helps and I would love to know what works for you. What have you found that helps you get organized and ultimately saves time for you?