Last week I wrote about the amount of time wasted in businesses because people can’t find bits of information quickly and easily.
Following on from that, there are two important aspects to consider when it comes to organising your information.
First you need to store it somewhere – and you need to be able to find it again
It’s the finding it again that creates the most problems for people – at home or at work, in small businesses or big corporates.
You need a filing system that is simple, covers all aspects of your business and most importantly – it has to be intuitive to work for you and your team so that it becomes second nature. If it’s not you won’t use it. Then you’ll be back wasting time hunting around for information you know you have but can’t find.
I want you to stop wasting that time and putting it to productive use in your business. Problem is that you are concerned that if you put time into getting a filing system, you won’t do real work that brings in business revenue.
I can already hear you already saying Oh – I haven’t got time for that. But hang on – how many hours did you say you were spending each week looking for information?
And how long will it take to set this up – I’d say 10 hours all up.
So think back to the figures I gave you last week about how the minutes spent looking for information grow into hours and the $ cost of those hours.
Now here’s the nitty gritty for this week about creating your filing system. There are two main ways – one is a formal system with a hierarchical structure. The other uses keywords that are meaningful for you and your team.
You may already have a keyword-based system – with folders for paper and for electronic files labelled with a word or short phrase that describes the content of those folders. These may be organised in alphabetical order or be grouped with folders containing similar information.
So you already have the beginning of your filing system.
As your business becomes bigger and more complex, you may end up with a myriad of folders that you have to wade through whenever you need to find a piece of information.
At this point you may need a more formal structure that has a series of sub-folders. The trick is to have top-level folders with meaningful labels that can cover all the activities in your business. Then you need to make sure everyone in your team uses the system every time they want to store some information. Whether it is sales receipt or customer contact details – each of these must be stored in the same place as other similar bits of information. Otherwise the system won’t work.
It entirely up to you to decide what will work for you and your business. Once you’ve decided on what labels to use and how to organise your folders, then you can decide what sort of folders you want to use for your paper files, how to match the paper filing system with your electronic files and if you want to include email into the mix as well.
It’s all possible. It does need some time and effort up front though. But I can guarantee you that if you set it up well in the first place, you’ll reap rewards through increased productivity within a very short space of time. You might even reduce the risk of IRD penalties through late filing of tax returns. Now there’s an incentive to sort out your filing systems and habits.
You might want to give me a call or email me to get some help to get started. I’ll be delighted to get your call or email.