Organization and planning are key to functioning efficiently. Think of a piece of paper – how does it make you feel when it is blank – like you need to do something? Now what does it make you feel when it is all scribbled up, crossed out, notated, or even stained with coffee mug ring – like you want to escape?
This piece of paper analogy can be seen as your mind. You need to find a starting point in which you can logically plan and organize your business activities. So start with your office space itself – whether that is a whole room or just a desk or table where you have your PC.
Clear out all the things that do not relate to the business at hand – if you have a lot of little junk then find a box, jar or bowl to put things in. For papers either throw them out or find a folder or box for them if you don’t have a cabinet or drawer.
Using this same principle, consider your email account. Is your inbox total chaos? For things you want to keep, you can create folders or ‘labels’ – whether you like alphabetical – for example A-D, E-J, K-P, etc; or to name them by function, ‘List Builders’, ‘Marketing’, ‘Invoices’, ‘Legal’, etc; or by name of organization, ‘ABC Co’, ‘Acme Widgets’, etc. Then just check the little boxes on the inbox index to name a group of emails at once, label them or send them to the folders (archive). Voila! ‘Out of sight, out of mind’. Clear sailing ahead.
Obviously if there are actual things you do need to read or respond to maybe you can make a ‘pending’ folder so that you don’t forget something. You will find however that the vast majority of your mail does not need to clutter up your inbox and your mind. No need to become aversive to your mail because it is such a burden to deal with every day. It will seem less so if you have a mechanism to get it out of your face.
Now that you have cleared some space for yourself, you can think with a clear mind. This will make you much more likely to comprehend what you are reading and follow up with things where it is necessary than it is when you have the feeling that you are drowning or smothering. If your email is too cumbersome it will create a feeling in you that you do not want to deal with something that is unpleasant every day.
The same principle should be applied to your documents – You may save them in each application or you may also make folders for those within the ‘My documents’ folder so that you can find important information without an archaeology dig. Make folders with somewhat broad classifications as you don’t want to do overkill and make it too tedious.
It’s up to you whether you use categories for example by months, or by functions, ‘procedures’ or ‘instructions’, ‘accounts payable’, ‘accounts receivable’. Then as time goes on you may even wish to have folders with years where you can move all the other categories – this makes it a lot easier to find things you haven’t seen in a long time.
It is important that you keep your work area clear of clutter and a good rule of thumb is nothing should be there that does not pertain to work. With online business, not really very much is outside of your PC, but if you invest a few dollars in some office supplies, don’t forget the folders and maybe a crate to keep them in.
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