Effective filing systems, whether they are paper or digital, are critical to a business’ success. Proper records facilitate business transactions and track the success or failure of the business.
Easy access to documents ensures employees can spend their time working on the projects at hand rather than looking for a piece of paper. Estimates of the time that the average employee spends looking for documents range between 2 and 8 hours per week (statistics gathered by the National Association of Professional Organizers) or 100 to 400 hours per year.
We all know time = $, let’s look at the breakdown. According to Gartner Group, Coopers and Lybrabd, Ernst & Young, the average time to retrieve and refile a paper document is 10 minutes. An average of 3% of documents are lost or misfiled, and have to be recovered at a cost of $120 per document. This equates to a cost of $2,160 to $8,640 per year.
An effective paper filing system will reduce the amount of time people have to look for documents and reduce the number of documents that are lost or misfiled, therefore reducing cost. It’s a win-win-win.
Keys to effective paper filing systems:
- Label files clearly
- Have some order to the filing. You may use different types of systems for docent categories of files.
- Alphabetical – useful for client files
- Categorical – can separate different categories such as vendor files, client files, financial files, etc.
- Chronological – useful for financial files
- Frequency of use – can keep documents that are referred to frequently at the front of a file cabinet.
- Priority based – particularly useful for active projects.
- Create rules for where each type of document should be filled.
- Only have one home for each type of document.
- Create naming conventions for files that everyone uses.
- Have a system for quickly identifying where a document or file folder should be returned to if it is removed from the filing system.
- Keep active files separate from files that need archiving.
Organize to Excel has been working with client files since 2007. We have experience setting up files for a range of small businesses as well as home based businesses and personal files. If you are a busy mom with more kid papers and family bills than you know what to do with, or a real estate agent with closing documents, licenses, and brochures piling up your office, we can help.
People always ask me how I do so much. There are many reasons for this, and the one I’m going to focus on today is energy management. I get the most out of my day when I effectively manage my energy.
Effective energy management is a life style. It’s a choice about how I live my life. I choose what and when to eat, whether or not to exercise, what time I go to bed and the quality of my sleep. And in my experience, the effects compound. So it’s not that I only make choices today that support high energy, I make choices that support high energy on an ongoing basis.
I find it be very helpful to have an accountability partner. This person can be a friend, a family member, a coach, or a group that you report to. This person or people will help you stay on track and encourage you to make smart choices.
The key to maintaining those high energy choices is to not keep making them; the real key is to embed them so they become habits. When they become habits, you need to use your willpower to keep making those choices.
How many of you have ever had a hard time setting and achieving your goals?
I have. I love dreaming about the future and coming up with things I’d love to see happen in the world and, honestly, there are lots and lots of those goals I’ve failed to accomplish. And after a while, it becomes disheartening if your vision never seems to come to fruition. So I’ve developed a new way of setting my goals. And this year, it seems to be working, so I thought I’d share the idea with you. SMART PATH goals.
I think I first learned about SMART goals more than 20 years ago when I was training for the New Zealand Women’s Canoe Polo squad. We were training for the 1st World Championships and the national association brought in a sports psychologist. Now, to an engineer (or anyone else with a logical mind like mine), a SMART goal makes a lot of sense. You get into the details of the goal and make it more easily attainable. SMART stands for:
- Specific (so you know exactly what your goal is)
- Measurable (so you know when you’ve achieved it)
- Achievable (so you can achieve it)
- Results (so you know what you are getting)
- Time based (so you know when in time it will happen)
This method for goal setting has served me well in most respect ever since then. The part I struggle with most is the achievable part. There are three aspects to the achievable aspect that I’m sharing about today.
Have you ever wondered when you realized that taking care of the environment is a good idea? Maybe it was on a family camping trip. Maybe it was watching a nature documentary. Maybe it was at school when they taught you about recycling. At some point, taking care of the environment went from your subconscious to your conscious.
Now you may take little conscious action to take care of the environment, or you may take a lot of conscious action. You may only do what you are forced to do, like not bringing home your groceries in plastic bags anymore because your local grocery store has been mandated not to use plastic bags. You be at the other extreme, making every living decision weighted towards the best environmental outcome. But you are probably somewhere in between. And during National Green Week, thousands of school students will learn a little more about taking care of the environment and how to live more sustainably.
National Green Week (link: http://www.greeneducationfoundation.org/greenweek.html) actually runs from Feb 2 through April 25. Schools around the country choose a week within that time frame and choose a project to focus on during the week. Projects fall under one of six themes: green energy, waste reduction, green thumb, I ride green, green building or sustainable water.
So what does this have to do with business? Well, if school kids can take small steps to being more sustainable in their lives, we can find somewhere to be more sustainable in our businesses.
Even though change can be instituted in large, radical giant steps, change can also be effectively implemented in small, continuous changes. Small changes are often easier to incorporate into your daily routine.
This year our big change goal is to purchase a car with an awesome gas mileage, perhaps even an electric car – we are still researching the options.
Our small change goal is to stop collecting business cards, using our smart phone apps on the spot to collect contact information.
We would love to hear your change goals. Drop us an email, or leave a comment on our facebook page.
You know you need to follow up with your leads, but how do you keep track? If you have a corporate sales background, you will be used to using ACT or SalesForce or a similar enterprise level customer relationship management (CRM) software. And maybe when you transitioned to owning your own business, you kept the same system.
But if you’re a small operation, just you, or you and a few, solutions like ACT and SalesForce can be overly complicated and pricey.
The simplest way to manage your return calls is to schedule them in your calendar. However, this has the disadvantage that a flow of conversations cannot be captured. You might not remember what you said to the contact last time, especially if any length of time has passed since you last spoke. So not only do you need to be reminded to call leads, you need something that can track important details about the conversation.
There are many, many free or inexpensive CRM’s available for the small business owner. My favorite is Podio. Podio is free for teams 5 or fewer and only $9 per person per month over that. Podio is extremely flexible and can also double as a project management tool, and task management system. It has pre-made modules to get you started, but is also completely customizable. Their support people are also very responsive and helpful.
So what’s the best approach when it comes to choosing a CRM for your business? The best way is to start with the questions you want answered and find a system that will deliver those answers for you.
Some of the questions you may have are:
- Can I find my client’s contact information easily?
- Are all the data fields I require available or customizable?
- How does the system remind me to call leads?
- What sort of reporting does the system allow?
- Can you easily track who needs to contact whom?
- Can you easily find out where you should be focusing your efforts based on customer information?
- Does the system integrate with my accounting system/contacts/task list?
- Does the system work on all the necessary platforms (PC, Mac, iPhone, Android, etc.)
- Are the mobile apps suitable or sufficiently sophisticated to handle what I need on the road?
- Can I sync information across platforms and with integrated services?
- How easy is it for my staff to update the information?
- How do we communicate changes?
- How do we communicate tasks that need to be done?
Remember that, as with all productivity tools, your CRM system should support your teams’ productivity, not inhibit it.
If you choose to investigate Podio, and need some help setting up your system, give us a call. We can help get you going.
Many people who struggle with paper management commit three deadly sins:
- They fail to file (or scan and shred) the paperwork they have completed any actions on, but need to keep for future reference
- They fail to prioritize and take action on their action items
- The keep items they do not need mixed in with their other paperwork
The result – they are drowning in paperwork.
This focuses on solving just one of the deadly sins – what to do with your paper action items.
As with any organizing, there is not just one way to deal with your action items. In any case, the aim of any system to deal with your action items should be simple to implement and maintain. It should capture your action items and ensure they can be processed in a timely manner.
Here are five methods for taking care of your action items.
- GTD – getting things done, defined by David Allen
- 4 quadrants – from Stephen Covey
- Tickler system
- Hotel system designed by Dolores Kaytes
- Simple priority system
Let’s look at each in turn.