Category Archives for "Management"

The Importance of Creating To-Do Lists for the Small Businesses

to do list on refrigeratorMost homes have a whiteboard on the refrigerator just waiting for some notes. Typically, the shopping list gets added and when one of the children have a function, a quick note about the time and place is written on the board. People, in general, cannot live without little notes to remind them of responsibilities and obligations.

Likewise, most professional people carry a calendar in which they write their daily appointments and tasks that they must complete. Colorful sticky sheets were invented to help individuals organize their time and remind them of both personal and work related events. Thus, it stands to reason that small businesses, both the owners and employees, should make use of good old-fashioned to-do lists.

To-do lists are the foundation of an organized and healthy business. If everyone knows what they are supposed to do when they come into work, then less time is wasted. In turn, owners are not paying wages for poor or zero productivity, and there is less chance of error with client accounts. In some small businesses, the best way to create a to-do list is on a large chalkboard or whiteboard hung on the office wall, so that everyone can see what needs to be done. Duties are assigned to specific staff, and deadlines are written out in black and white for all to see and understand.

post it notes on blackboardOne of the negatives, however, of creating a to-do list in the small business environment is that it often seems like there is more to do than there is time to do it. This feeling can be overwhelming and actually detrimental to the health of the company. If you or your staff cannot manage the to-do list by identifying priorities, the list will just weigh you under. Put quite bluntly, you and your staff will sink. For this reason, you absolutely must review your lists and determine what needs to be done now.

In addition to assessing your own lists, you need to review each staff member’s lists. Everyone needs to be on the same schedule and have the same focus for lists to work properly. If you as the owner or supervisor deem that one function is top priority, then others must know, so that their priorities reflect your decision.

Today, there are many computer programs to help with the issue of synchronizing employee lists with owner-manager lists. Often called “task list software”, you are able to enter the specific jobs that need completing, the staff member responsible, the client involved, and the deadline. You might even provide low-level access to employees, so that they can update the system as they have completed certain tasks. The system provides full details of the complete process from beginning to end. Ideally, nothing should get lost along the way. Of course, this leads to higher productivity, lower spoilage costs, and a higher percentage of deadlines met on time.

To Do List

Another way to assess to-do lists is by category. For example, let’s say that you are starting a new division in the company. You might need added permits and another bank account. By keeping this list separate from your daily running-of-the-business list, you are better apt to keep things organized and get the requirements done. Likewise, client accounts. Each folder should have specific lists for that client’s project. As something is completed, the task should be ticked off the list with the date of completion and the employee’s name. Of course, with these separate lists, you must review all of them to ensure that you have a master list for the day. But, at least, you don’t need to have all the tasks on the daily list. Just those pertinent to that day. In this way, you are not reading over the same things more than once and wondering how everything will get done. You only have the points at hand that are important to today’s processes.

Lastly, to-do lists should help prepare for the future, whether in the short-term or the long-term. If you own a garden center, for example, you don’t wait until the first hot May weekend to stock your area. You plan ahead by growing or buying plants, you get the area all cleaned up and looking nice, and you schedule staff for the opening day. By having these points on your to-do list months ahead of time, you can capitalize on peak seasons, increasing your profits and margins.

How to conduct Effective Team Meetings

team meetingsMeetings can be productive or they can be a big waste of time. The problem is often that everyone gets off track and no-one monitors the time and where the meeting is headed. Before you know it, hours have passed and the key issues have not been resolved or at the very least even discussed. It is a dilemma for all managers and owners. Therefore, this page will deal with effective tips to an excellent team meeting.

Set an Agenda

I know…  So What…  Big DEAL 🙂

But it is a big deal.  Remember that all teams go through the phases: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing.  The Storming Phase can be absolutely chaotic.  An effective team leader understands this part of the process and structures meetings in a way that moves teams through these stages as quickly as possible.  So how do you do this?  STRUCTURE.  Posting clear lines of responsibilities of all team members and setting agendas for every meeting.

One of the first things I learned early on when being in charge of conducting a meeting, is the fact that an agenda is crucial to the success of the meeting. Without knowing what should be discussed, invariably, the meeting strays off-course and the real problems, suggestions, solutions and issues are not addressed.

If I know that we will be holding a weekly meeting, for example, I write down points as they happen during the week. This way they don’t get missed or forgotten when the time comes to prepare for the meeting. Likewise, the night before the meeting I sit and review all the points, along with anything that I might like to bring to the team’s attention. If I am organized, ideally, the meeting should be more productive.

prioritizationPrioritize

Another point when preparing for the meeting is to prioritize the issues. Understand what is most important and be sure to attack that issue first when the meeting begins. By addressing the key points immediately, you allow the proper amount of time to discuss the issues, solicit suggestions and proposals, and then choose a game plan. If you only talk about the points in the order in which you wrote them, you will be allocating the wrong attention to each point, leading to not only an unproductive meeting, but also, an unprofitable enterprise.

Encourage Discussion

Meetings are also constructive when everyone participates. As the owner or team leader, you don’t want to monopolize the whole meeting. Since employees are being paid to complete a job and since managers must come up with solutions, it is only fair that you expect them to prepare notes and speak, as well. Team meetings that consist of supervisors and managers should allot time to each person giving their updates for the previous week, along with their suggestions for the upcoming week. Budgets and sales quotas will undoubtedly be discussed, too.

Again, depending on how the business structure works, the managers of departments that are most crucial at that particular point in time should be given the highest priority. For example, if you own a bakery and Easter is coming up, and you need thousands of Hot Cross Buns to sell, then the person responsible for this segment of the business must speak about how that project is going to meet schedule.

Further, use presentation materials if it makes the process of understanding and implementing easier for the other team members. Don’t bore people and waste time with graphs and pictures of trivial things, but be sure to include relevant information in handouts, on a large screen, or from your own laptop. Sometimes, key elements are easier to grasp when presented in visual format as opposed to reading numbers out loud from your notes. The impact tends to be greater when team members can follow along and see the patterns evolving themselves.

Accomplish Somethingbusiness success

Finally, if you are in charge of the meeting, knowing what should be accomplished is your key goal. If you do not understand whether the meeting is fact-finding in nature, solution based, or simply to update others on progress, then you cannot reasonably conduct a productive meeting. All members should clearly know the reason for the meeting, how to prepare for the meeting, and be able to contribute. And when they leave the meeting, they should feel as though they have learned something valuable and that they have accomplished something for their time. They need to leave with positive action steps for the next week or with a concrete plan of action for the immediate future.

The New Corporation: Tips for the Home-preneur

Working From Home

It’s the new corporate identity.  Mom’s and Dad’s are building businesses from their home.  But how do you separate home and work life when you work from home?  Below you will find a Corporate Guide for setting up your home-based enterprise.

Traditional corporations have taken on the same look through the years. Large imposing buildings with thousands of employees and all the money in the world for R&D, product promotion, and customer solicitation. They had the legal teams, the accounting know-how, and the ability to reach the masses quickly and effectively. But as these same companies downsize and individuals regroup and decide what to do with their futures, a new breed of corporation has emerged. It is the corporate world of the home entrepreneur. And, since many of you now fall into this category, it would be a good idea to discuss some tips for the home-preneur.

bullet-1Handling the Business Phone Line

While many people expect those working out of their homes not to have the same formal systems as large corporations, they do still expect common courtesy, respect and a certain level of professionalism. For example, when you record your business voice mail message, it is neither wise, nor cute to have your toddler recite your words for you. Your little one is not an employee of your business and she does nothing for your image answering a telephone. Additionally, if you record your message and the dog is barking, record another in a quiet room. People need to understand what you are saying when they leave their messages.

Likewise, if there are times of the day where you feel that you cannot work, due to family obligations, then make sure your phone calls are going to voice mail. Don’t bother answering them and telling people you are tied up or too busy to help them. Customers don’t want to feel like you are brushing them off. If you will be away from work for a few days, an auto responder on your email box will let people know and keep them happier.

workaholicbullet-2Avoid the “Always Working” Trap

Another trap that home-preneurs fall into is being on-call and working 24-7. They forget that they have a life outside their office or their job. Be sure to set aside times of the day where you are not connected. Leave the office and go do something relaxing or exciting. Make a nice meal or do some baking. Just prepare your voice mail and email box so that people know you are not there. Also, don’t leave people hanging. In other words, if you are supposed to meet the 10:00am courier to send out packages, be sure to keep on time with these kinds of priorities.

bullet-3Business is about Relationships

Maintain personal interaction with people. Often, when people work out of their homes, they only talk to people via the telephone or maybe Skype, or even just email. Get outside your home and talk to people face-to-face. Join a local club or organization. You do not necessarily have to network, per se, but at least you have others with whom you can interact and maybe have a little fun. Find out about your local surroundings and make a point of seeing people socially or professionally.

bullet-4Separation of Work and Home

Along the same lines as being professional when answering the telephone, do not entertain clients in your home. If your garage is the office, then it might work because it is separate from your house, but in general, it is uncomfortable for both parties. In this day and age, people are unsure about going into a stranger’s home and you should be weary of encouraging strangers to visit.

Contrarily, find a local office that you can rent by the hour or the half-day and conduct your meetings there. A nice coffee shop can do the same trick and is generally free, other than your beverages for the meeting. Another reason, you don’t want clients coming to your home is that the liability insurance is quite costly. And if you don’t have it, a lawsuit could ruin you professionally, personally and financially.

Lastly, although you are not a major corporation yet, that doesn’t mean that you should not have specific rules on how your run your business as one of the newest home-preneurs.

2 My 5 Hints for Office Optimization

Office Optimization TipsIt doesn’t matter if you work in a micro business or a global corporation, Optimizing your office space and work area is key for a productive process. The following Business Advice is basic but exactly because of that often overlooked…

Many individuals say they work better with piles of paper all around, and they know exactly where everything is, you should at least have a system that works in your space. The time spent looking for things and the time used to move around the office are all wasted and unnecessary. In my opinion, an office that is functional is one that helps you to grow a successful business. Therefore, I would like to offer my five hints for better office optimization.

 


bullet-1Is Your Workplace Ergonomic?

One of the first things you want to do is make sure your area is ergonomic. In other words, if you answer your telephone with your right ear, then the phone should be on the right hand side of the desk. It is cumbersome, dangerous and problematic to have the phone cord reach from the left side over your work space. Cords in general are dangerous, especially on areas of the floor where there is foot traffic. This type of arrangement should be avoided. Also, set your office in such a fashion, as it is easily accessible to common areas. If there are several offices in a work setting, and the printer and photocopier are in the common area, then you want the offices arranged so that everyone can access the equipment quickly.

bullet-2

Optimize Your Business Space

Second, if you have a large office where there is room to walk around and stretch, you also want to makeoffice table sure that the furnishings are positively placed. When clients come to visit, the chairs should be arranged to make it comfortable for them to sit and speak, while at the same time, you can show your samples, drawings, and drafts. A bigger office means that you can use a round table and chairs over in the corner for your meetings. Likewise, if you must search inside the file cabinet several times a day, you probably don’t want it on the other side of the room. You might be better with a drawer in your desk with dividers or a small cabinet at knee level.

bullet-3Acquire the Right Business Tools

Third, make sure you have the necessary tools and equipment. Of course, starting out, you are on a tight budget, but still, there are second hand items and lower-end pricing depending on where you buy things. But, it really does help in the long run to have the office supplies that you need. For example, if you work better keeping track of things on a whiteboard, buy one and get it installed on the wall. Or, order a portable one on legs. You will recoup your investment almost instantly because you will have gotten all your orders out today and not forgotten any. Scrimp on something that you don’t use as often, so that you can buy equipment and accessories that are necessities.

bullet-4That “Big Company” Feel

Fourth, spruce up the office if it makes you feel better emotionally. Some people believe that this is a ridiculous statement, that you should just do what you have to in order to work. But, often, if your office is in the basement or I the garage, it can get rather depressing. And that does affect your work process and productivity. Take a day and paint the area, add some inexpensive artwork, put down an area rug, and generally do a few things that make the office space a little more inviting. You will be pleasantly shocked at how much more work you accomplish and how much more you like going to your work area every day.


bullet-5a Productive Corporate Environment

Fifth, make sure that your employees are happy and safe in their environment. Most individuals do not feel good coming to work in a messy area. They want to come to work fresh in the morning, or when they start their shift for the day. If others are permitted to just throw stuff around, it is very discouraging and dangerous.

ergonomics

Enforce rules to keep areas clean and tidy. Provide the necessary comforts to staff where possible. For example, a foot rest under the desk. Another example are cordless phones in a warehouse instead of rigid wall phones where the employees have to stop their work to answer customer calls. Everything you do to streamline the process makes it that much easier for employees to focus on the task at hand. They become more productive and work more accurately at tasks. There are fewer errors costing you less money.

Finally, take a look around your office area, sales space and warehouses and see where you can make some minor improvements that will go a long way to optimizing your business work space.

How to Identify and Manage the Problem Products or Services

inventoryMany businesses lose money due to old and outdated products or services. Owners and managers either believe that the items will sell for the regular price, or they don’t recognize a problem at all. In truth, any item that does not have a reasonable turnaround period is costing money through storage, interest payments, and constant employee handling. And in a small business enterprise, the costs of keeping this stock can be high. Gross margin is seriously reduced, new product space is neglected, and money that could be reinvested is lost. In this article, we will take a look at ways to identify stale products and ideas on managing this type of inventory or service.

First of all, it is really important to know what you have in stock. Whether you are a very small business or a large one with millions of dollars in inventory, you need to know how much you have, both in quantity and dollars. By keeping track of on-hand goods, you have a better chance of identifying stale products and then creating a plan to rid yourself of them. Further, the products in stock need to be salable. In other words, they should be in excellent condition, they should be current, and they should be needed or wanted by customers in the short term.

When you know what you have, you can easily rotate your old stock. As soon as an item is discontinued by the manufacturer, it is a good idea to highlight that product. If it is a high-ticket item and you pay employees commissions on sales, then offer a little higher percentage to move outdated products. Likewise, a contest between employees with a bonus or prize to the winner might move items you no longer wish to keep.

Inventory ListSpreadsheets, like Excel are great ways to handle your stale items. Keep all the SKU numbers and pertinent information on the sheet. If you mark down the price, document the new price and date of reduction. In the beginning, set a specific time period that you can reasonably keep the item. When that day comes, either throw out the product or give it to charity. But, find a way to remove it from the showroom or business area.

Sometimes, the items are appealing enough that if you use them as giveaways to customers, you actually benefit in two ways. You can get rid of the stock, plus you might be able to entice customers to buy something else in order to get this item free. Or they might pay a reduced price. You can either bundle the old stock with complementary new items, or you can offer a major discount if the customer spends a set amount of money.

products servicesServices can also fall into the category of stale or outdated stock.  Regardless of whether your business sells physical products or intangible services, you need to offer something people want. If you are a house builder, for example, and you have access to older colors of tiles, you might offer clients a significant discount on the supplies and only profit from the labor of installing the tiles. Further, if your work does not require physical supplies, you need to make sure you can provide more current systems or processes. Very few people want twenty-five handwritten-in-calligraphy business cards. Most people want thousands printed in bulk.

For some items that you feel you are required to stock in order to keep customers properly serviced, only buy the smallest quantity possible. Examples include replacement parts for lawnmowers, bicycles, appliances, and the like. Also, be sure that the replacement fits more than one model, so that you are not storing an item for years in case that one customer comes in the door. There is no pride in paying interest costs to say you are the only one in town with a balloon tire from the 1950s.

Managing inventory can be quite easy if you take stock of your inventory and keep abreast of customer needs and wants.

11 How Do Small Business Owners Handle Vacation Time and Holidays

finger vacation

While a small business is much easier to manage than a conglomerate in the sense that the owner is responsible for most tasks and there are few other people to worry about, scheduling becomes that much more difficult, as there is no-one available to cover vacant shifts. Even more troublesome is the fact that most people will request the same time periods. A business that relies on a few staff members is going to have a real problem keeping the business properly staffed. That leads us to the question, “how do small business owners handle employee issues such as vacation time?”.

Vacations include the time surrounding national holidays, as well as the customary rest period where families often travel or do something special. When everyone is booking the same days off, and when the business must meet deadlines, then it is important to arrange the schedule accordingly. Obviously, everyone cannot take the same time off if the business remains open. Therefore, I have outlined my six point plan for better scheduling.

Point 1

If your business permits, why not close down for a two or three week period in the summer to accommodate all the holidays? Not only will this provide a needed escape for yourself, but everyone will know which weeks are the holiday times. Many small enterprises arrange their workloads around a mandatory shutdown.

Point 2

Be cautious of employees saving up vacation time and sick days. Let’s say, for example, that your organization allows for one paid sick day per month, and further, three holiday weeks per year. You really need to have the specifics down in writing. If you allow employees to save everything up, then they can effectively be away for a five week stretch which is a huge drain on the already small resources.

Additionally, if you allow them to save up with no cutoff, they could be gone for months at a time, especially if they have saved up for a couple of years. Lastly, if employees never take the sick days and holiday time, when they leave, you may be responsible for paying out that time in cold hard cash. Avoid problems by setting down written rules in an employee manual, as to how many days off are permitted in a row, and also, when the benefit expires. Many companies do not allow the time to be saved up past a calendar or fiscal year.  And, if the employee is sick for a long duration, it is customary after a few days to request an official doctor’s note.

Point 3

Understand that if you have enough employees that require vacation time as to severely impact your business, you need to hire another person just to cover all these time slots. In other words, if someone is off every week, then it is prudent to hire an extra body and have that person trained and part of the environment instead of running short for the majority of weeks of the year. Frustratingly enough, it gets to the point sometimes that you feel like you are hiring people just to cover their shifts. It doesn’t feel like the business is expanding in a positive way.

calendar with tackPoint 4

Before you even hire new people, let it be clearly known that holidays will be taken during a certain time period. For example, if you know that your longterm employees always take the same summer vacation because their children are out of school, then the new hire will not be permitted these times. That restriction will be part of the new job position.

Point 5

Allow flexibility and shift swapping. While you want to make sure that policies are in place and they are strictly enforced, at the same time, if you place some of the onus on the employees to find a better solution, they might be able to handle the responsibility for covering days off by trading shifts with someone equally as qualified. Likewise, if it doesn’t matter much to your business when one employee leaves early, as long as another steps in for that last hour, then allow the flexibility in the scheduling.

Point 6vacation planner

Use Excel to create your schedule so that you can block out certain periods and quickly complete the task with pre-made templates.

Indeed, vacation times can pose real problems for small business owners. Before you hire staff, think long and hard about the benefits you wish to offer, then be sure to create specific policies and procedures, so that the holidays are not running or ruining your business.

2 Employee Scheduling for the Small Business

Man writing on whiteboard planner

You might think that scheduling five hundred employees would be a large task and that small businesses with a few staff members would be easier to handle.

NOPE.  

Get that thought out of your head 🙂

The lower the number of the staff, the more difficult the project. Basically, you have no-one to substitute for key employees when one is sick or on holidays. And everyone, at that point becomes a key employee, especially if you only have four or five. Truly, you have probably wondered how you can effectively handle employee scheduling when you are a small enterprise?

Don’t worry.  I can provide you a few quick tips that you will be able to implement right away to ease your burden when creating the weekly or monthly schedule. Here are my seven pointers.

man writingPointer #1

Require employees to ask for time off in writing. This serves two purposes. First, it gives you time to make alternate arrangements. Second, there is no confusion over whether they asked or not. Often, people forget things very quickly. Whether it be you forgetting when you prepare the schedule, or it is the employee who never said anything in advance, both scenarios cause headaches for the business and ill-will for the staff.

Pointer #2

In addition to written requests, employees should have a lead time for requests. If you post the schedule for the upcoming week every Friday, then employees should expect to hand in their requests by the previous Monday.

This should give you plenty of time to make adjustments. This lead time is normally for single days off. In the case of holidays where it may be anywhere from one week to three weeks, you should require a longer notice period. The longer the staff member will be away from the job, the longer you need to prepare.

Pointer #3

Use an Excel spreadsheet to create your schedule. A template starts the process, then each week you can block out certain sections for those days that staff are going to be away. You would also block out the busiest times of the business, so that you can make the proper accommodations. Different color schemes will aid your task.

shift planner

Pointer #4

Be cautious of saying that it is only one day, so let’s make do. While special days off may not happen very often, they can impact the business in a huge way. Phones don’t get answered, customers wait in line too long, deadlines are not met, and the list of negative issues goes on. It is not just one day, especially if it is the busiest day of the week. Prepare by asking others to help out. Maybe you have a spouse, child or friend that can jump in for the day and do a specific task that takes the pressure of you and the others.

Pointer #5

Ask staff members if anyone would like to switch up their normal shifts. This is much easier than dictating, but if no-one volunteers, then you must decide how to best handle the day’s schedule. Likewise, part-time employees may welcome a few extra hours that one week.

employee business and vactionPointer #6

Be cognizant of the same employee that always requests special favors, as it relates to days off. Maybe it is time to hire another person, not necessarily to terminate this person, but to cover the shifts that are chronically open. It makes no sense to adjust everything every week. Fix the problem once and for all.

Pointer #7

While you need to make it clear to employees that not all requests will be granted, at the same time, you should understand that some staff members will just call in sick if you do not permit their requests. It is better for your business to have the shift covered, but at the same time, that issue should become part of the employee’s file and work performance report.

Indeed, you want to make your employees happy, so that they like working in your environment. But, you need to remember that this is a business. It is your livelihood and the staff were hired to ease the burden. By implementing clear policies and procedures, you will be better able to handle the creation of the employee schedule.

Save time doing administrative tasks

administrative tasks

Administrative tasks include functions such as balancing the company bank statement, creating employee schedules, reading emails, opening the mail, entering the numbers into the accounting program or spreadsheet, and maintaining active licenses, permits and inspections. All of these tasks are considered bothersome by many small business owners, for the main reason that completing these tasks makes no money. And while that is true, without these functions, a business cannot expect to be called healthy. Thus, I have grouped together a few small tips to help you better organize your efforts and save time doing administrative tasks.

Following are six tips that can help you learn to save time.

Tip #1

Find someone to do the tasks for you. Whether you pay an employee a few hours a week to complete the tasks, or find an outside company to do them, your time is better spent managing the business and bringing in sales. If you choose to hire outside, do not necessarily choose a huge accounting firm. Go for a local bookkeeper you met at the Chamber of Commerce, so that you can keep your costs low.

Tip #2

Set aside time at the beginning of the day. Most experts would argue that you should spend the evening or end of your day doing these types of tasks. I disagree because these are the ones that cause you the most problems. By setting aside an hour at the beginning of your day, you can probably handle the tasks much quicker and get them done. In fact, start your day an hour earlier. Do a little everyday instead of a lot one day.

Tip #3

Use the proper tools and automate where possible. The biggest time saver when doing admin tasks is finding and using the proper tools such as computer software. If you create templates for schedules and the bank reconciliation in MS Excel, you will find the job to go a lot faster because you have the same form to use each time the task requires completion.

vacation planner

Tip #4

File mail if a decision is to be made later. If you open an envelope for a product or service that you might like to purchase or inquire about in the future, file it right away. If you leave it on your desk, you will handle it over and over, wasting valuable time. Put it away right away, so that when you are ready, you can retrieve it.  In fact, it would be best to keep a folder specifically for these orphaned documents that don’t require their own space, but may need attention. Otherwise, throw it out now. But don’t use this technique as a way to procrastinate. This is reserved for major decisions and purchases.

Tip #5

Complete tasks while eating lunch or supper. If you need to do backups of your systems, you can easily queue the function while you eat. This way, it will be done and it won’t cost you any more time in the day. But, only use this tip for tasks that don’t require focus on your part. If you need to concentrate on the task, eating at the same time is not a solution to saving time, at least if you expect accurate results.

robot puzzleTip #6

Synchronize resources. For admin tasks that require making announcements and keeping employees informed, try to use the same software, applications and even the same hardware. This keeps things running smoothly, while at the same time does not waste time trying to do conversions.

Remember that even if you only have a very small operation, your staff will sometimes help you out. Of course, it is not free, but if you have someone that wants to learn more, or has a knack for doing a particular task, let go of the function, and allow the employee to undertake its completion. Just be sure to stay in the loop and know what is going on around you.

1 How can you get organized?

messy desk

Does your desk and work area look like the city dump? If it does,
you are like most entrepreneurs who cannot find the time to get your environment organized. The truth is, however, if you took the time to get organized, it would save time on a daily basis, plus you would feel a lot better about coming to work. Organization is not fun, but it can be made much easier with some of the tips and hints I am about to discuss.

One of the worst situations I find when trying to help small business owners clean up their office space is the mounds of paper all over the desk. The whole office becomes a storage area, but the desk is a special problem, because once the surface is filled up with papers and tools such as the calculator, telephone and printer, there is no place to work. How can anyone possibly do their job in this state?

Let’s take a look at some Quick Pointers that you can do easily and inexpensively to get your office in tiptop shape.

Pointer #1

Tie up wires. Everything from computer wires to electric fan cords are all over office floors. Use whatever you have available to make them neat and tidy in bundles. Shoelaces, garbage bag ties, string, wool, ribbon or anything else will work nicely to wrap the wires together.

Pointer #2

Clean out drawers. This is a bizarre, yet common problem. The drawers in cabinets and in the desk are there to organize things, but those same drawers become junk collectors. Empty them out and use them for real storage. Get rid of the junk that doesn’t belong there.

filing cabinetPointer #3

Filing cabinets are another storage area for the wrong things. Do yourself the favor by buying manila file folders and green hanging frames, so that you can place client work together and to keep accounts organized.

Pointer #4

If you do not have bookshelves, use space against the walls of the room. Neatly place books in rows like the library. This way, you can see the spines and can find the book easily when needed. I’ve even seen law offices with the folders stacked neatly on the floor in alphabetical order. As long as people are not stepping on them, they are fine, if you don’t have the resources to purchase expensive cabinets.

Pointer #5

Some windows will do nicely for storage space, as well. If the window is never opened, and it has a good wide base for the sill, then use that area. Just be sure whatever you place there is not a mound of junk, messing up the room. Make it tidy.

Pointer #6

Believe it or not, just dusting is a form of organization. Books, papers, folders and equipment all collect dust rather quickly. This is unsightly when clients come into the office. It takes no more than two minutes every couple days to wipe the dust with a rag.

Pointer #7

document shredder

Grab a plastic bin and when documents need shredding, throw them into the bin. This will keep the clutter down to a minimum, as the papers won’t be on your desk, nor will they be wasting space in drawers or cabinets.

Pointer #8

Create long stickers or labels in MS Word and place them on the spines of binders with account names. For example, work estimates, proposals, bids, or employee schedules.

Pointer #9

Use egg cartons in the desk drawers to keep tiny things like paper clips, erasers, spare change, and the like.

Pointer #10

Line your desktop with a blotter and serve two purposes. The blotter will allow you to doodle while you talk on the phone to clients. Maybe your scratchings are estimates, which is great, making the blotter quite useful. But, you can also buy the kind that has a calendar. This way you have your meetings and events right at hand.

To be sure, it does take some time to get organized. If you can’t spend a block of time to do it all at once, at least schedule fifteen minutes to a half-hour each day, so that you can get your work area in tiptop shape.