The most common gripe I hear is the frustration of not being able to find a document; it might be an electronic document, a piece of paper on a desk or in a folder or an email.
This is not surprising when I look at how a lot of people store their business information.
It might seem to be safe to keep all your emails and never delete them “in case they are needed one day” or keep all your paper work in piles on your desk (or on the floor when you run out of desk space) so “its handy” or leave all your electronic files in “My Documents” or on your desktop screen because you think you can find them quickly by doing a Google-type search.
The reality is however that none of these storage methods work effectively, especially when you need something in a hurry.
We all have some form of structure in our lives. Some people lead more structured lives than others with set times for each activity, others are less timebound but still have some structure in their day. Each day we eat, sleep, go to work, go home – usually with a timeframe around these activities.
There is structure at work too – hours and days of work, who does what, when and how much you get paid or how much time you can take to have a holiday.
Not everyone realises though that they need structure for their business information too. Even the most organised people can find themselves struggling to find that elusive document when they need to rush off to a meeting with a client or customer, or can’t find an email they need to action.
It’s not really difficult to establish some structure into your email or your electronic or paper documents into folders.
I generally set up a directory structure for electronic documents to help clients organise their business information. This structure is mirrored in email folders and also for a paper filing system if they have one. This makes it easy for them to find what they want regardless of its format.
Remember your in box is not a filing cabinet!
Once you have the structure in place you then need to develop good habits around using the structure – all the time!.
You’ll be amazed at how much more you can achieve in a day if you don’t have to spend unproductive time looking for information.
You can read about more hints and tips to improve productivity in your business in my free eBook; and even more if you download the eWorkbook that give you a full set of instructions on how to set up a filing system for your business.