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Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Article written by Michelle Dunn

Organization, the Key to Success

One of the biggest things you can do to make any business successful is to be organized. Organization helps you work faster, more efficiently, helps you to portray a professional attitude and can make you feel less frantic and more optimistic about your business.

Whether you work out of a home office or a remote office you want to organize your desk, office and if you are traveling for your business, your bags. Let’s start with your bag, do you have a bag big enough to hold all your promotional items, daily items you might need, cell phone, pens, books, keys and/or mail? Is the bag a mess and so heavy it hurts your shoulder? When you approach a potential client, you want your bag to look great and you want to be able to whip out a business card or brochure instantly to hand to them. Digging through a bag that is overloaded and overflowing is not a professional image.

I like to use a roomy bag that has outside pockets for slipping items in and for easy access. You can also purchase small clear zip top bags, I got mine from Totes. They are inexpensive and come in different sizes. Because they are clear, you can see everything instantly. You should only carry ONE bag. If you have a tote bag, a planner and a purse, you are not organized. Put items from your purse in one of the clear zipper top bags and put that in your tote, add your planner, your promotional materials, a book, pen and paper and you are ready to go. Everything in one bag, with smaller bags inside to organize. You can see everything at a glance and everything is easily available.

A friend of mine, Susie at The Busy Woman (www.thebusywoman.com) has GREAT organizational bags to fit every lifestyle and business. If you're a busy woman (and what woman isn't?), you MUST stay organized and on top of every little detail in your day, in every aspect of your busy life . . . family, home, office, school, community and even home schooling. Everyone uses some sort of calendar, day planner system, or to do list. It's finding the right one that used to be difficult, until NOW! Visit her site for tons of useful articles, tips and to see what types of organizational tools she has. Be sure to tell her I sent you.

Once your bag is organized, you can project a calm, professional, successful image to anyone you meet while you are out and about. Your next step is your desk.

Your desk probably has a computer, phone, basic office supplies, papers and books on it. First get some stand up file holders and baskets, plastic bins or in boxes. You can use anything, old shoe boxes with nice wrapping paper on the outside, or with pictures on them that your kids have drawn. Anything to contain the papers on your desk. Look at your desk and make a pile of the things you use every or every other day. Those are the things you want to keep on your desk or somewhere that you have easy access. Make a pile of everything else and move it to the floor or away from your desk.

Make sure you have an “in” box. You can throw your mail there, and anything that needs instant attention the next time you sit down to work. Use a stand up file and some file folders to make a tickler file. Write the days of the week on the tabs of the file folders and put them in the upright file on your desk. When you do something on Monday and need to follow up on Thursday, put a note in Thursday’s folder. Each morning, take out that day’s folder and do the work you have in that folder. This is an easy way to be sure to follow up on everything and keep your desk neat and organized. If you use envelopes or stamps every day, keep them in a smaller upright file holder or basket on your desk. Things you reach for everyday can be neatly stored in any type of container on your desk instead of spread all over it.

Hang up an inexpensive cork board to hang up papers or items you refer to all the time, this way they are hanging up and you can just glance up at them to get the information you need. You can also purchase different color folders for different jobs. Red for new jobs, green for things that need to be researched, blue for things that need to be typed etc. Whatever your business is, customize the colors to suit your needs.

You should also organize your computer, remove any old files, emails or pictures you don’t use every day or week, put them on a CD, label it and store it in a drawer on in a CD holder. This can be in your desk, on your desk if you use it often or on a shelf. Put any magazines, articles, books and papers you need to read in a basket, so you will have a basket of things to read, a basket of things to do each day (in-box) such as mail, reply to a letter or jobs. You might have envelopes and stamps in a small container near your phone and/or a rolodex if that is something you use each day. Remember, the things on the top of your desk should be things you use every day or every other day. Everything else can be stored neatly. For example, here is what I have on my desk:

Computer, phone, stapler, tape, lamp, calculator, envelopes, stamps, return labels, Advil, hand lotion, multivitamins (otherwise I forget to take them!) tissue, promotional book marks and postcards, 2 CD’s I use daily, my tickler file, in box and a box for bills. I have an upright file holder with priority mail envelopes, Notebooks and folders with my mailing lists that I use every day, and invoices that have not been paid for book orders. I send promotional materials out every day so I keep these items on my desk and handy. I have a file cabinet and bought some inexpensive lined baskets and have one for outgoing mail, so when I fill an envelope and stamp it I throw it in this basket, the next day when I go do errands, I put whatever is in that basket in my bag. I have a basket of books, papers, reports and magazines I need to read, this is usually overflowing. I have this next to the mail basket and when I take that days mail I also take a book or magazine to put in my bag as well. When I am waiting in a doctor’s office or for my kids to come out of school, I read. I also have a basket of information to include in the 2nd edition I am working on for one of my books. When I find something I want to add to that book, I throw it in the basket, when I am ready to make the revision’s I will have all the information in one place, MUCH EASIER! I also have a small plastic container with drawers, that I keep my promotional materials in, business cards, book marks, order forms and postcards. When I need something like this, they are all in one place and I can easily take what I need without searching or re-order quickly.

When I get back from my errands, I can easily empty my bag of mail, into my in box, magazines or reports into the basket of things to read and the book or magazine I read can go in the give away or save pile. I try to only keep pages out of magazines instead of entire magazines. You can get cheap 3 ring binders and sheet protectors and include your important pages from magazines or newspapers in that book. I then give the magazines to local business or doctors offices for their clients.

Now look around your office, is it just your office, or maybe your dining room table or a corner of the living room? If it is an office that is a room in your house, how much room do you have? What type of furniture is in there? You can certainly make do with whatever you have. Think about putting up some sort of petition if you are in the living room, or face the wall or a window away from the TV and family area. You may need at least one file cabinet for paperwork, but try not to print everything out to file, anything electronic, save to CD’s and store that way. You can use different colored hanging file folders for your paperwork that must be filed. For example, use a different color for personal bills, business bills, receipts, insurance, website information, and anything else you might have. It makes it easy to know what is in each folder at a glance and is good at tax time when you need to have all of your receipts and invoices for your accountant. If you have an empty drawer, use it to store copy paper, printer ink or any office supplies you have, or use a plastic container. I have a printer stand next to my desk that has my printer on it, and I purchased a 4-drawer plastic stand at Staples for the printer paper, and envelopes, this way it is right under the printer. On the shelves I have baskets. One has shipping products, tape, labels, markers, return address labels and stickers in it. The next shelf has a basket with specialty paper that I don’t use often.

To successfully organize is easy. Things you need:

Containers: baskets, boxes, plastic containers

Folders: color coded or with color coded stickers on them to identify them easily and quickly.

File folder upright holders: Available at any office supply store or department store. You can even get some that hang on the wall for more available desk space.

Once you have these items, you will want to put all your “stuff” in piles of “like” items. All your mailing items together, envelopes, stamps, address labels etc and put them in one container. Put all your bills in another, once you do this, you will have a bunch of containers in front of you with all of your work items in them. Then you can put them anywhere in your office, when your like items are grouped together and contained, you will not have to search each time you mail something or need to grab something to read.

I was a bill collector for 17 years and one of the reasons I have been successful is because of my organizational skills. I believe you can be more successful when you are organized, and it will get away from you but if you have a base plan, and stick to it, it will work.
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