Get Productive, Get Organised!

In business, time equals money and, as an entrepreneur or business owner, you definitely cannot afford to waste either. In recent months I’ve seen  several struggling entrepreneurs and business owners wasting time and losing out on business due to poor organisation. The key to curbing unnecessary wastage is simple – Get Organised!

Let me share two examples of businesses where things went horribly wrong due to a lack of simple systems and organisation.

Some time ago, I had dealings with an equipment rental business that had high volumes of business queries, mostly due to their aggressive marketing and advertising. Potential clients would call requesting quotations. The only problem was that these would not be sent out due to total chaos in the business’ administrative offices. There was no procedure for dealing with quotations, client requests were written on scraps of paper all over the back-office, and less than half of the quotations that did go out, went out on time. There was also no filing system in place to keep track of the paper trails and subsequent payments. Not surprisingly, despite being extremely “busy”, they were experiencing serious cash flow problems. (Fortunately, the business did not become a client!)

In another example, I was dealing with a professional services company that was paying excessive penalties and interest to the South African Revenue Services (SARS) due to non-submission and late payment of tax returns. The culprit was disorganisation.  With their financial statements and bookkeeping months behind, they had failed to make accurate or timely VAT payments, resulting in serious problems with the tax authorities.

If becoming organised initially seems like too much effort, consider what it would be worth to you. A more organised business and lifestyle could mean getting more done in less time, a better work-life balance or even more clients doing business with you.For many people it would also mean staying on the right side of the law.

These essential steps – de-clutter, sort, optimise and enhance – will help you become more organised in your working space!

Firstly, de-clutter by getting rid of everything you haven’t used or needed in the past six months. Set aside the sentiment in this exercise and be ruthless. Less is more and empty space is even better!

Once you’ve eliminated the clutter leaving only the bare necessities, you’re ready for the next step: Sorting. Assemble files, storage boxes and containers, labels and a marker to start the filing process. A good tip is to put everything in its right place from the word go. Label every container and file so that you can see at a glance what it contains. Any stray bits and pieces have only one destination – the rubbish bin.

Next, take a critical look at your working space. Reflect on the actions you perform in the course of your duties and your workflow, then arrange the equipment on your desk (computer, printer, telephone, etc.) and in your office to maximise overall efficiency and output.

When positioning desks, consider aspects such as the position of power and phone points, windows, doors, aircon outlets as well as both natural and artificial lighting. The ideal spot would provide adequate light and air flow as well as easy access to power points. Make sure you have enough free space behind your desk to move your chair comfortably. There’s nothing more irritating than having to squeeze out from behind your desk every time you want to stretch your legs or welcome a client!

Once you’ve configured your desk and chair, it’s time to arrange the other pieces – shelves, filing cabinets, visitors’ chairs, etc. Check that every item serves a definite purpose. Remove non-essentials such as clumsy side tables and ramshackle pot plant stands that may clutter your space.

Arrange your space so that the items you use most often are closest to your work space. For example, current files should be easily accessible, whereas archives can be placed in the furthest corner or even off-site.

Consider incorporating other items that enhance efficiency such as a wall calendar (a year-to-view is my favourite), a drawer or box for all your stationery, post it notes and a small white board (there are various affordable compact self-adhesive ones).

Only once all the basics are in place, should you look at the aesthetics and personalising your work environment. Enhancement involves little details or “nice-to-haves” and the rule is quality rather than quantity. Put up a few photographs or posters, or perhaps you prefer a single, striking painting.

Finally, a neat and tidy office alone alone is meaningless if you don’t have proper service and administrative systems in place. Take care to allocate office duties properly and ensure that your support staff knows what needs to be done daily, weekly and monthly. Implement specific processes and steps to deal with quotations, finances, payments and client follow-ups. Use checklists or key-control lists to ensure you take care of routine tasks. Depending on your type of business you might need to consider an integrated Financial and Customer Relationship Management system.

Remember, if you are the leader in your business and in your business premises, it’s your responsibility to establish and maintain it according to your business needs. If you’re totally overwhelmed by the idea of getting organised, you can always employ the services of a professional organiser. No more excuses!

Do you have any comments or suggestions? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

Article supplied by: Gina Mostert, Business Strategist, Consultant & Coach

About the Author: Gina works executives, business leaders and companies in the services sector, helping them to think, plan and lead more strategically or


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