A practical guide to getting your business ship-shape
Time whizzes by and sometimes you end up feeling bogged down and overwhelmed by cluttered files, systems and processes. After many years in business administration, I have lots of tips to share with you on how to spring clean your business, feel better and more productive.
Spring is a great time of year for spring-cleaning your business, but really, any time of year is good. Warmer weather means you can enjoy opening the windows, and giving the house a good old ‘bottoming’. You can do the same for all aspects of your business. Here are my top tips on how to spring clean your business.
Spring clean your physical space
Often, before I begin work I will have a quick tidy-up of my work area and make sure everything is where I can find it. I’ll do a quick clean of my desk and keyboard and, (sad I know), I make sure pencils are sharpened!! I just feel better and more productive; it is true that a tidy workspace helps you to be more focused and have more clarity. Try these tips for a clear workspace that will be a pleasure to work in.
- Open your windows wide to let a breeze cleanse the stale air of winter and months of central heating.
- Blitz your desk. Clear the clutter, dust and polish, disinfect your keyboard and mouse.
- Have a really good clear-out. By de-cluttering, you have more space to place beneficial items such as plants, a vision board, crystals or self help books on your shelves.
- Practice some simple office feng shui – watch this video from a feng shui expert
- Buy a Himalayan salt lamp to create a soft glow. They are both lovely to look at, and produce negative ions, which can help to cleanse stale indoor air and balance electromagnetic radiation from your PC, laptop or smartphone.
- Clear the space by burning sage or palo santo incense (or a simple candle).
Spring clean your virtual space
Organise your business files properly
Start by making a business ‘spidergram’. Download this free example I’ve created for you. On the spidergram, list every area of your business and have a ‘top level’ file (in the orange circles) for each. An example of top level files are:
ADMIN | CLIENTS | CONTENT | FINANCE | MARKETING | SERVICES | TRAINING & PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT | GOALS
Create folders within these top level files (the bulleted lists on the spidergram), for example, in my CONTENT folder I have these sub folders:
BLOG POSTS | IMAGE LIBRARY | VIDEOS | RESOURCES.
Your image library is where you store ALL of your images, social graphics etc. in one place, so they can be catologued and easy to grab.
An archive folder is really useful for dragging and dropping things you don’t currently need anymore but don’t want to delete. You might need something again in the future, or be able to re-puropose something you’ve already created. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Anything you definately don’t need should be deleted. Don’t hoard old stuff.
Make sure your virtual desktop is clear
File away or delete documents stored on the desktop – remember that software icons on the desktop are just shortcuts. You can safely move them to your recycling bin, and remember to empty it regularly.
Run a scan of your computer files
These can get clogged up with unused programmes and downloads. A free scanner like Avast Cleanup can perform a scan for you, and advise on what can be safely deleted.
Review your business systems
To really spring clean your business, take half a day to map out all of the routine processes you use. For example, write down the exact steps you take when sending a client invoice. See if the process can be made more efficient. Having a step by step process for these kinds of tasks, (and accompanying flow charts and templates set up), means the process becomes streamlined, and you follow the same steps each time. It also means if you ever want to outsource these kinds of tasks (to a VA!) you can just hand over the process with ease.
Aim for ‘inbox zero’
Is ‘inbox zero’ just a dream? It can happen! The average person spends 560 hours per year managing their email. The average inbox contains only 38% relevant emails therefore a whopping 62% are not important and can be deleted in bulk.
Here are some email tips:
- Only check emails 2 x daily (choose a time to suit you).
- Follow the 2 minute rule: If the email can be dealt with in 2 minutes and is important = DEAL WITH IT.
- If not, follow the 3D system: DEAL WITH IT | DEFER (answer at a later date) | DELETE
- I’d like to add a fourth D. DELEGATE. If you have someone you can offload your emails to (such as a PA, VA, or team member then go ahead. They actually enjoy this kind of work!!!).
- Deal with an email once only.
- Review all of your subscriptions and cull the ones you’re no longer interested in.
- Set up a small number of folders such as TO DO | TO FILE | TO READ | TO BE DONE LATER and get into the habit of moving incoming mail into your folders.
Create or refresh your business rules
I wrote my business rules a while ago and read them regularly. It really reinforces the fact that it is your business, and you run it your way. It also helps to create and defend your boundaries, for example, you could create a rule of ‘I won’t respond to clients after 7pm.’
Blitz your time-keeping
Use the Pomodoro technique. It’s great for procrastinators, when you’re daunted by the scale of a task or have an important but difficult task that you can’t face tackling (writing your online course?!). You can download a pomodoro timer from the internet.
Build in blocks of free space and defend them. Use this time to rest and do nothing! By having these buffers, your calendar will be more flexible.
Even if you are a hands-on practitioner, avoid having client work back to back in your diary. That is a recipe for burnout. Build in a break between appointments and you’ll feel more refreshed and won’t come across to your clients as stressed or always running late. As a former mobile holistic therapist, I speak from experience.
By streamlining, systemising and automating as much of the ‘boring admin’ stuff as you can, you save so much time in the long run.
I hope this helps.
Let me know how you get on!