Whether or not keeping organized is one of your strengths, it’s a habit everyone should get into. If you’ve ever kept your boss waiting because you couldn’t locate an important document, or if you’re guilty of arriving late to meetings frequently or missing an important deadline, getting organized should be at the top of your to-do list.
If you’re looking for some guidance, you came to the right place. Below you can find some benefits of keeping organized, as well as tips on how and what to organize to get the most out of your day–to-day work.
Table of Contents
Setting Up A Filing System
To create a truly effective filing system, you need to start with a plan. Simply slapping a label on a folder won’t cut it. For supplies, all you really need are several coolers of cut tabs coloured folders, and some box bottom hanging folders.
Creating File Categories
Look at your current filing system (or that pile of paper that you’ve been meaning to file for the longest time) and start sorting your documents into different categories. “Accounting” might be one, “Marketing” could be another. At this point, we’re not focusing on the details of your filing system. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter if its a credit card bill or a bank statement. Worry about those distinctions later on.
Here are a few major categories to help you get started:
- Accounting ~ Sales and expense info including balance sheets and cash flow statements.
- Banking ~ Cancelled checks, bank statements, deposit slips, loan documents
- Contracts ~ Business contracts including those for equipment leases and purchase agreements. you may also include work-for-hire contracts joint venture agreements.
- Corporate Documents ~ If your business is incorporated, keep your articles of incorporation, bylaws, and shareholder records such as minutes and consents.
- Business Forms ~ Include sales agreements, tax forms, purchase order forms, and employee applications here.
- Permits and Licenses ~ The documentation to operate your business needs its own file. use this file to keep operating permits, business licenses, and other documents that you may need quick and easy access to for legal verification.
“I have got to figure out a system because I have bad filing, sorting and organising habits.Barack Obama
Pick one of your “major category” piles and let’s sort through it again. This time, think about breaking your paper into small subcategories. For example, your “Accounting” pile could be divided into:
- Business Account
- Credit Card Accounts
Be specific; don’t say they are “bank statements”. Determine which accounts they belong to and break each out into a separate pile. We don’t want any files “bunking” with other files. Everyone gets his or her own separate folder.
Each major category of paperwork should be assigned a different color (you decide) – and then we’re going to put each of its subcategories into an individual hanging file folder. In the example above, “Accounting” might be green, and each of your accounts gets a separate green file folder. It seems like a small thing, but color-coding your system will save you a huge amount of time in filing and retrieving papers.
Being able to look in your file drawer and see distinct bodies of information broken out by color just makes SENSE to your brain. When you know that your accounting section is green, your marketing section is blue and your accounts payable are in red, you don’t even have to think because your hand just naturally goes to the right part of your file drawer.
Now that everyone has their own colored folder, we need to label each file. When creating your labels, move from general to specific. Don’t tell me you are filing paperwork for your “Visa credit card” – call it “credit card: Visa”. When you arrange your folders alphabetically, all of the “credit card” files (no matter how many you have) – will be together in your “finances” section.
Our goal is to keep related files in close proximity to each other. Do this again and again for every grouping of files until you have labeled every file in each major category.
All you have to do now is put the files within each major category in alphabetical order, and then put the major categories themselves into the drawer in alphabetical order.
Place the colored folders in hanging box bottom folders to keep them upright in the drawer. The cut tabs show above the hanging files, and the tabs are in a straight line for easy reading.
Whenever you need to find a document or put something in a folder, just look first for the correct major category (easily identified by both the labels and the color). With the right filing system, it’s easy to put your hands on the correct file without a lot of searching.
I hope these color coding tips, help make setting up a new filing system easier. It is always to easier to have a filing system in place, where documents can be at your fingertips.
The Significance Of Document Scanning
Have you ever spilled coffee on your desk, all over an important piece of document; or rest your coffee cup down, without realizing it was on an original document, leaving behind a nasty coffee ring? Or maybe you misplaced important papers and spend hours looking for them?
Document scanning allows you to keep a digital backup of a file. Files can be accessed remotely so you don’t need to carry them with you. Scanned documents can be sent immediately via email.
Scanning documents means you don’t need to worry about the security risk posed by documents lying around an office or being misplaced. As they’re stored digitally, they can only be accessed by those you want to have access to them.
It’s not just written documents that can be scanned. Images such as old photographs, magazines, etc can also be scanned to protect and bring out the quality in them. This means e.g. an old family photo album can be scanned and saved without worry and the images can be shared with family all over the world at the click of a button.
Here are a few reasons why Document Scanning is a win:
- It Enhances Security
You never have to worry about data loss or theft. Physical documents can be at risk of things like flooding, fire, and yes, even spilled coffee. Scanning your hard copies gives you the opportunity to back them up as many times as you like on your computer or in the cloud. This will give you peace of mind knowing your data is preserved for years to come. This can also be avoided by Archiving Documents.
- Cost Efficiency
Scanning Documents will cut overhead costs by annihilating the expense of printing, photocopying, ink (reduction of carbon footprint), or purchasing copy paper.
- Improved Accessibility
Physical documents can sometimes be difficult to sort/manage. Searching for information, especially if you’re looking through piles of paper stored in filing cabinets can take forever. Using search functionality, sorting through digital files only takes a few seconds, and in most cases, allowing more than one person to access a file at a time which means there’s no need for someone to wait on someone else finishing with a document before they can get on with their work.
Reclaim Physical Space
Now just imagine turning all those stacks of paper on your desk into a digital filing system. Where all the bulky, expensive filing cabinets once occupied a whole section is now vacant and can be used for something more productive. Scanning reduces the need for filing cabinets, which opens up more office space that can be utilized for other things. It also reduces expensive print costs. All of your documents will be stored in virtual folders, accessible by all computer or mobile devices.
“Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions”Barbara Hemphill
Now that you know the benefits of document scanning are too good to ignore, why wait any longer?
By promoting ways that improve your staff’s work environment, allowing them to do their jobs with more ease and efficiency, coupled with a consistent effort ot adapt to the evolving digital landscape, you’re ultimately steering your business to the direction of success. Document scanning benefits businesses in infinite ways. Contact us today for all of your scanning needs.
Have a question that was not answered? Don’t be shy! Fill out our contact form and I’ll get back in touch with you as soon as I can. It’ll also help me update the article for future readers.
Why Should You Archive Documents?
Have you ever wondered what document archiving is all about, or better yet, what is the purpose of archiving? Archiving is an essential records management process all businesses and their employees need to know about.
Such information or data may or may not be required in the future, but is important to some extent that you do not want to get rid of it, at least, right now.
Here are a few things you should know about document archiving:
- It Prevents Data Loss
Data loss is when information systems are corrupted, deleted, or unrecoverable and can happen for multiple reasons in various ways.
Lets take a look a few of them:
- Accidental Deletion
Every day we create, update, save and delete files. Using computers and mobile devices are part of our day-to-day business life ~ no wonder we accidentally delete or overwrite important business files. We are all human, and the reality is we make mistakes. File deletion is unavoidable and goes beyond dropping and dragging a document into the recycle bin. Email and system file deletions are also common user errors that lead to data loss.
For some businesses, viruses can steal and delete data or bring business operations to a crawl, destroying company functionality. A computer often gets a virus from an email-based attack or through phishing that tempts an employee to click on a corrupted link. This link then allows the virus or malware to enter the computer system to damage or steal files.
Guard against malware with appropriate anti-virus software. Keep your anti-virus systems constantly updated and regularly run scans to catch viruses before they can do any serious damage. Just in case a malicious program wrecks your data, be sure to make regular system backups as well. Often backed up data is the only way to recover lost data from malware or viruses.
- Failure To Backup Data
You can’t predict when or where it will happen, but eventually, we all experience a complete system crash. Most of the time, your system can be rescued and restored, but at what cost? Failure to backup your computer is the most common cause of data loss due to human error. Scheduling automatic daily backups of the most important data is an easy solution. Incremental backups are smaller and faster than a full backup. The only downside is you would need multiple backups for a full system restore.
- What To Do To Avoid Data Loss
Preventing data loss is easy if you choose the right method. One option to consider is offsite back and recovery services. Using several layers of security, a Managed IT provider or your internal IT Department can retrieve, compress, encrypt, and store all your files in a remote backup server. There are also common sense things you can do to prevent data loss due to human error. These include documenting your systems, setting up a two-step protocol that requires confirmation of file deletion, and developing a recovery plan for future data losses and breaches.
- It Increases Security
Online data can sometimes be hacked. If archived, it makes it more difficult to be reached by some third sources. To increase the protection of valuable documents, you need to archive them so your business can be secured from all sorts of attacks from hackers.
Another layer of protection would be to scan your documents vs leaving them lying around your office or home The Significance Of Document Scanning
“Hope for the best, plan for the worst, but also try to be prepared for the unexpected”.Radovan Kavicky
Billing Tips For Small Businesses
There’s nothing more regrettable than a customer who doesn’t pay their monthly statement on schedule. Subsequent to contributing a lot of time and exertion into finishing an undertaking, complying with time constraints, and guaranteeing customer fulfillment, it very well may be disappointing to need to invest significantly more energy pursuing initial payment. Billing tips for small businesses can be very helpful to small business owners.
The most ideal approach to deal with payment issues is to forestall them—however much as could reasonably be expected—from occurring in any case. Some of the time, be that as it may, issues are unavoidable and you’ll have to make a move.
Here are a few suggestions on how to bill or invoice customers:
- Set Up A Payment Strategy
No one need to be humiliated by requesting payment when payment has, truth be told, has been paid.
Make certain to monitor payment achievements and guarantee payments are applied to the right account.
- Abstain From Invoicing Blunders
Each of your clients’ likely works with a large number of vendors throughout the month. If you’re billing more often than monthly, it may be too much to keep up with. On the other hand, if you’re invoicing annually, you may be crashing their budget by forcing them to pay a huge lump sum at once. Monthly invoicing strikes the right balance between “too often” and “too expensive.”
Some businesses may prefer to bill at the end of each deliverable in the early stages of working with a client. But once you’ve established that payment is reliable, you can discuss options to determine future billing.
- Make An Exhaustive Follow-Up Procedure
With an effectively full calendar, it tends to be enticing to catch up on late payments weakly or irregularly. In any case, doing so will just fortify the deficient customer’s recognition that they can keep on deferring payment. Rather, make a bit by bit, point by point plan that you follow in each and every case until payment is made.
Having a plan in place can help cut down on the time it takes to follow-up on late payments Tips on How to Stop Wasting Time.
If you’re billing multiple clients, you’ll regularly encounter late payers. If you’re billing some clients weekly, some monthly, and some annually, it may be a logistical nightmare determining when to send late-payment notices. Although there are software solutions to help you keep up with invoicing, you’ll also spend time checking reports.
- Update Databases Consistently
Now and then, a late payment is essentially an instance of sending it to an inappropriate location or email. Addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses do change, so make certain to refresh contact data all the time to ensure customers get each statement.
- Don’t Let Customers Give You The Run-Around
Customers will in some cases attempt and put you off by maintaining a strategic distance from your calls or disregarding messages. Try not to get derailed while waiting for a return call, or response for a really long time—indicate in your correspondences when a customer needs to get in touch with you so as to evade further postponement.
A Satisfied Customer Is The Best Business Strategy Of AllMichael LeBoeuf
- Apply Payments Expeditiously
Make a point to apply each payment you get to the fitting record promptly so as to duplicate billing. Customers will value this exertion and it will assist with maintaining your records in control too.
- Consult Legal Advice When Necessary
In the uncommon case that you are as yet incapable to acquire payment from a customer, it might be an ideal opportunity to make a lawful move. A legal advisor can compose an interest letter—an affirmed letter that compromises lawful activity if an obligation isn’t paid. For the most part, this will be sufficient to get a customer to settle their account.
Following these recommendations won’t forestall each late payment, yet they will assist you with managing proficiently and reliably with each occurrence of wrongdoing you experience—and they very well might get you your payment that a lot quicker.
Taming Your Paper Clutter
Having a cluttered workplace or home is going to affect your productivity levels significantly. This is because every time you need to find an object or a piece of paper, you’ll have to rifle through tons of unneeded and unwanted stuff.
Clutter also has the ability to cause chaos and confusion, all of which are extremely detrimental to productivity. Take some time during your day to get rid of unwanted items and putting things back where they belong.
Now that you know the many factors that can snag your productivity, you’ll be better able to overcome them. However, there is one snag that you will have to push yourself to overcome; procrastination. Learn how to determine the reasons why you keep putting off working and what you need to do to fix the problem.
Here are a few tips to help sort through your paper pile easily:
- HAVE A DESIGNATED LOCATION FOR YOUR PAPERS
It’s not only about appearance, but it’s also about being able to locate important and even not so important papers quickly. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing you have a specific document that you need to review and not being able to find it in a timely fashion. Wasted time, added stress … who needs it? Decide where and how you want to organize your papers, and don’t scatter them everywhere. Using colored file folders for different areas of your business and label them accordingly. Example: Red for bank statements and papers, yellow for marketing etc.
- TRY TO TOUCH YOUR PAPERS ONCE
While this is an accepted time management technique, it also works well when organizing papers. If you pick up a document, take 2-5 minutes to read it through, then decide what to do with it, and then handle it accordingly. Either… File it, throw it away, or put it in an envelope to send to someone else — just don’t put it down in the same place only to repeat the process all over again.
- ESTABLISH A SCHEDULE
Most paperwork can be accomplished on some sort of schedule. For instance, you can pick a specific day of the month to pay bills, and assign a set time of day to review mail and/or written documents that have crossed your desk. “Bundling your tasks” (i.e. paying bills, filing, etc.) can be a much more efficient way to get things done versus doing a little bit here and there and having the task drag on almost indefinitely.
- KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE TO KEEP vs. WHAT YOU DON’T
It’s important to know what papers you must retain forever and which ones you can get rid of and when. Check with your financial and legal advisors for guidelines. My Blog on The significance of document scanning will help in eliminating unwanted paper.
- STICK WITH IT
Many people start out with the best of intentions and, within a short period of time, they are taking shortcuts or have simply given up on their paper organizing plan altogether. Keeping paper clutter under control is an ongoing endeavor. The more attention you pay to setting up simple systems (with few steps to follow), the easier it will be to maintain it for the long haul.
All paper clutter is postponed decisions”Barbara Hemphill
- THINK ABOUT AUTOMATION/GOING PAPERLESS
And, while you’re at it, consider some of the ways that you can automate your paper files. Many companies give you the option to review and pay your bills online, and you can certainly scan and maintain documents electronically. If that’s your preference, be 100% certain that you have a backup in place. Computers fail, glitches occur, and you don’t want to be caught in the lurch.
Take a look around. Are your papers where you need them to be and can you find them quickly and easily? If not, set aside a few hours (or more time if necessary) to sort, throw out, shred, organize, and tame the paper clutter in your home or office.
- In Summary
I hope these tips, help you reduce your paper clutter and effectively manage a functioning paper flow system.
Drowning In Paperwork? Build A R.A.F.T
Are you a busy executive, with very little time and too many people demanding your attention? Not do you feel like you’re drowning in paperwork up to your elbows, but every break is interrupted by the beep of an e-mail or the buzzing of your phone extension. Don’t despair… Build yourself a RAFT.
RAFT is an acronym for the 4 easy steps to wade through an ocean of paper—REFER, ACT, FILE, or TOSS.
First, gather all of your paperwork lying around your workspace. Place all the paper in a clear work area or box. Depending on the amount, separate into a couple of piles.
Create an interruption-free zone—ringer off, voicemail on, the door closed. Get out your calendar, some file folders, and To-Do list. This may take a while so give yourself ample time to go through the papers. The mountain of papers was not created in a day, so block off an hour or 2 during the day or evening for a week (or 2 depending on how much you have to do) to continue wading through the papers.
Lift out an item, and ask, “What’s the NEXT ACTION I want to carry out regarding this item?” Defining only the next step limits your concerns about what you can handle right now.
LET’S BUILD THAT R.A.F.T
If the next action needs no longer be carried out through you, bail it out of the RAFT! Affix a note to it concerning to whom the item goes and put it in a folder labeled REFER. If the papers you’re delegating are time-sensitive, make a note on your calendar to talk about it with them at some specified time in the future between now and the closing date. At the end of your RAFTing session, send these referred items to the delegated person.
You may be caught up in the belief that you are the only one who can handle every detail properly, that you are not only the captain but also the chief cook and bottle-washer of your raft. The truth is that with limited time and resources, there is only so much you can do by yourself. Delegating to staff (or family) teaches them that you trust them and value their skills.
If the next action is something only you can do, ACT on it. Certainly, we can’t delegate everything. So, if it will only take a minute to get it off your desk, just get it done.
First, perceive which action the object represents (eg. call a client back, draft or follow up on an email, restock a shelf, research a new supplier, pay bills online, payroll, etc.) and place comparable items in separate piles (or file folders) for every category (to call, to write down, to study, to investigate, to supply, and so on.)
Next, decide when you can accomplish the task. Block off space on your calendar for time-specific work. Like contacting a client or supplier in a different time zone, or based on their schedule or opening hours. For time-flexible tasks, note them on your To-Do list so you have a master plan of what tasks need to be done. When you’re done RAFTing, you can methodically deal with each category of items, now neatly sorted, awaiting your attention.
In the event that your items to ACT upon need more thought, put those in a labeled file folder and your next step will be contemplation. Ex. Should you attend an all-day seminar? Will it fit into your schedule? How important is it to the future of your business? Schedule a decision-making time in your calendar to review those items and ACT on them. This is only for important items, not for you to procrastinate making a decision.
The key to filing is asking “Where would I look for this item if I needed it?” and placing it there. Some people need things more accessible and within eyesight. If you are one of these people who suffer from out of sight – out of mind syndrome then using binders with dividers on bookshelves would work better for you than a file cabinet. Reflect over the last few months and ask yourself… “How’s that working for you?” Designate homes and send the items to where they live. Then note in your calendar and/or master To-Do list what work needs to be completed and where the papers live.
If a paper doesn’t require your attention but must be saved for tax, legal or reference purposes, file it. That doesn’t necessarily mean folders and filing cabinets. You can “file” new insurance cards or driver’s license in your wallet, computer manuals in labeled magazine sorters, and financial records in reverse-chronological order in three-ring binders.
“We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of”.Marie Kondo
The tendency in business is to keep things “just in case”. The question that begs to be asked is “Just in case of WHAT?” If you no longer need items for reference or ongoing projects, toss them overboard (into the recycling bin or shredder). Consult your attorney, CPA, or professional organizer regarding records retention schedules, and if you still fear discarding an item, try to imagine a situation when it would be needed. Chances are, the information you are saving “just in case” can be easily retrieved by scanning it and save it to your hard drive or a jump drive. See my Blog on The Significance Of Document Scanning
I hope these four easy steps allow you to see your desktop again. Practice makes perfect; so keep using the R.A.F.T system on a daily basis, for sorting all incoming papers and mail. No more paper mountains, and feelings of overwhelm and stressed.