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According to research conducted by the Wall Street Journal, the average US workers wastes an hour a day searching for misplaced information in a messy desk or files. That averages out to a total of 6 full weeks per year. At a salary of $60k, that’s nearly $7,000 in wasted time on the job. With numbers like these, it’s pretty obvious that getting organized does more than just clear out the clutter in your life. It can actually save your business thousands of dollars each and every year.

But getting organized involves more than just moving paper into neat piles or dusting your office. True, effective organization involves strategically creating systems and procedures for all areas of your business. As a result, you will enjoy greater productivity which ultimately translates to a better bottom line. Easier said than done? Not necessarily. Check out these three tried-and-true methods for getting organized once and for all.

Get Your Paperwork Under Control

Want to know what small business owners list as their biggest burden? You guessed it – paperwork. What’s more, a whopping 80% of paper that’s filed away is never referenced again. What a waste!

Given these facts, the logical first step in getting organized is to get your paperwork under control. Start by assessing what you do with documents once you’ve taken action on them. Where do you store them? How easy (or difficult) is it to locate paperwork that you need quickly? If you don’t have a filing system in place – preferably a digital one – the time to implement one is now.

Begin by sorting all of your paperwork into three piles: keep, discard and recycle. This can get a bit tricky, especially with business documentation, so if you’re unsure of what to hold onto, this list should help. Anything that’s not on the “keep” list but that contains sensitive information should be shredded and whatever is left should be recycled.

Once you’ve got a handle on the types of documents you’re dealing with, the next step is to either create or improve on your existing office filing system. Ideally, moving toward a paperless office is recommended, as digital files are much easier to manage and retrieve. There are plenty of options for moving to this type of setup, including various Cloud storage tools, electronic payment services and digital signature programs. Most offer free trials so you can find what works best for your business.

Invest in Productivity Tools

You may already have a bunch of tools and applications that you use on a regular basis. That doesn’t necessarily mean what you’re using is actually best. In fact, with technology changing and improving so rapidly, taking stock in the digital tools you’re using in your small business at least once a year is strongly recommended. This will allow you to identify what’s working, what isn’t and which areas where improvements should be made.

If you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few areas where many small business owners find productivity tools particularly useful:

  • Meetings and Communication – Staying on top of your schedule will help you maximize your precious time. Utilizing one of the many electronic calendars and meeting management apps can work wonders.
  • Contact Management – Relationship management is one of the most important components of running a successful small business. A customer relationship manager (CRM) system like Salesforce can help you keep track of your clients and manage your networking.
  • Accounting – There are a number of quality digital tools – like Quickbooks Online and Xero – that enable business owners to organize and streamline their invoicing, payment processing, cash flow and payroll.
  • Email Management – A disorganized inbox can be just as distracting as a cluttered office. Thankfully, there are various tools and extensions, such as SaneBox, that enable users to get their inbox under control with automatic filtering, sorting, reminders and more.
  • Social Media – Using automated social media management platforms, like Buffer and Hootsuite, can help you stay on top of your social media activities without having to invest a ton of time.
  • Project Management – Another great productivity tool is a project management app like Trello or Teamwork. These are especially helpful for businesses that utilize remote teams.

Obviously, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and you’ll need to take some time to figure out which productivity apps and tools best fit your needs and your business, but these should provide a good starting point.

Wrangle Your Computer

Last, but certainly not least, getting your computer organized is the third key step to implement. Not only will cleaning up and organizing your electronic workspace help you perform your day to day work more effectively, but it will also improve your computer’s overall performance. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Straighten out your desktop. Get rid of any icons and desktop shortcuts that you no longer or rarely use.
  • Set up a digital filing system. Create files and folders where you will store all of your electronic documents so they’ll be easy to access when you need them.
  • Update regularly. If your computer isn’t already set to launch automatic updates, make a point to check for and install application, software and operating system updates at least once a month.
  • Perform routine scans. Checking your computer for viruses or performance issues on a regular basis can keep your system running smoothly and securely.
  • Back up data. You should also be routinely backing up your data and storing that backup in secure places, such as a Cloud-based storage service or an external hard drive.

If there’s one resolution for your business in 2018, it should be to get more organized. Doing so will help you better serve your customers and make your life infinitely easier. Need more tips and expert guidance for your business? Give us a shout at 203.683.5911 and let’s discuss how we might be able to work together!