With spring just around the corner, most of us feel a tug to do some spring cleaning. Spring brings freshness and a new light. When the weather starts to warm up, people can be seen washing windows, cleaning closets, organizing spaces, getting rid of clutter, cleaning their yards...but what about your office? When was the last time you spent some time giving your office space a good overhaul? After all, it is where you spend a lot of your time and represents your business to others. What kind of impression do you make on potential customers or clients with binders piled up on the floor behind your chair, files strewn about as if they're not important enough to have a home, a desk piled high with papers, books and coffee mugs from the last three days? What goes through the mind of the customer on the other end of the phone line when you say, “hang on just a minute while I locate that file” and leave them on hold for five minutes while you're looking? A cluttered, disorganized work space not only reflects poorly on your ability to manage your business, but actually may prevent you from working efficiently and effectively. Even if you don't have the spring-cleaning bug, take the initiative to give your office a good spring clean. You'll notice the results right away. Here are some ways to get started.
Physical Files - This includes everything currently on your desk, in your in-basket, sitting on trays or in stand-up files. Everyone is different when it comes to what system makes the most sense for them, and the system may also be dependent on their industry or business. The point behind this is to ensure that all your files have a place and that you can quickly and easily find anything you need. There should never be pieces of paper or folders on your desk that don't have a home, unless you're actively using them. It doesn't really matter which system you use, as long as it works for you and that you keep it up to date. Get those files off your desk and into their rightful place.
Contacts - Go through your Daytimer, business card file and address book. Cross off or store any contacts you know are outdated. Update any information that needs to be updated (e.g. that new phone number for Joe's Body Shop you scribbled on a napkin should be transferred to your address book). If you keep your contacts on your computer or smart phone, do the same. Go through each contact and check that all the information is updated.
Computer - Does your computer desktop look like someone's filing cabinet exploded? Can you quickly and easily track down any file on your hard drive whenever you need it? Take a look at how your computer files are organized. Are there files you can delete? Are there items that have been saved to the wrong file? Keeping your desktop relatively neat and being liberal with folders and sub folders may help you to feel less stressed. It's the same as getting the physical clutter off your desk. Also, take a look at your browser bookmarks. Are there some you can delete? Is there some way to organize and categorize them to make finding sites easier? What about your email? When was the last time you deleted unnecessary messages? Have you created email sub-folders to make searching for that specific email from Company X simpler? Take the time to clean up your computer files. You'll appreciate how much time it saves you in the end.
Desk - How much unnecessary stuff is on your desk? Does your desk look like a photographer's showroom with pictures everywhere? The clearer your workspace, the more efficiently you will work. Consolidate and simplify what’s on your desk. Put away what you can in drawers to leave a clean, neat working surface.
Bookshelves - Are your books organized in some kind of order so you know where to look when you need something? Are they neat and tidy or have they become the receptacle for everything you don't know what to do with? Are there photos from the Christmas party, outdated company envelopes you can't bring yourself to throw away, disks and CD's you don't know what to do with? De-clutter as much as you can, and put the rest away.
Floorspace - Nothing says 'inefficient' like stuff overflowing onto your floor. Try to get everything off your floor that isn't a piece of furniture or equipment. It may be time to purchase another bookshelf or storage cabinet. A de-cluttered space increases productivity!
Computer and Accessories - When was the last time you took your computer in for a cleaning and service? What about your printer, scanner, keyboard and mouse? Do they need a dusting or service? Your fax machine (if you still have one – and if you do, do you really need it these days)? Keeping your office equipment well-serviced and maintained will save you hours of frustration as they won't break down as readily.
Are you feeling inspired yet? Get to it. If you can't afford to set aside a day during the week, do it on a Saturday. You won't believe what an impact it will make on your attitude and the feeling you'll have when you go back to work on Monday. Increase your efficiency, create a space that's a pleasure to work in, and impress your customers and clients - a little bit of effort will go a long way!
Trenval Business Development Corporation is Bay of Quinte’s Community Futures Business Specialist, financing business start-ups, expansions or successions in the Quinte region for 34 years. Trenval can help with small business support including small business funding and small business loans.
Do you have a business plan that you would like to bring to fruition? Contact Trenval at 613-961-7999.