We all know that business owner who is constantly shuffling for the right paper, searching for that one particular sticky note, or scrolling through their phone for that text message from months ago. In fact, maybe this is you. No one really likes being disorganized, and we all know it wastes time searching for things, but when your office (or car, or house, or life…) is a mess it can be difficult to know where to begin to get things in order. We have assembled a list of baby steps to get you started down the path to a more organized and efficient work environment. It’s time to get organized.

Baby Step 1: Get a Notebook

If you like to have handwritten notes (like I do) it can be easy to just jot things down on whatever is closest. But a week from now (or a month or a year) when you need that information it’s time-consuming to track down that specific piece of scrap paper that you wrote your notes on. More often than not, it’s lost or thrown away and you have to start the process of finding the information all over again. Not only does this waste time but it often leads to embarrassing phone calls to clients or vendors to explain that you need to ask them some questions again because you lost your notes.

Get organized with this one easy baby step. Get one, consolidated notebook and carry it with you everywhere to keep all of your notes in the same central location. Forget and write something on a sticky note? Stick it inside the book. Need to add some old notes, or forget to take it with you? Be sure to get a notebook with a few pockets so that odds and ends notes can be added to it as needed.

Baby Step 2: Sign up for a good CRM

CRM stands for Client Resource Manager. There are loads of different CRM’s out there from free options to expensive industry-specific options with all the bells and whistles. Research your options and figure out what your budget allows. Getting, and then using, a CRM will help with organizing all the client notes, business cards, personal information, and other contact information that you have accumulated through running your business. Having this information easily accessible and well organized is vital to your efficiency and productivity. It will take some time to set up, but once you are caught up maintenance is often fairly easy. The key to this step is the maintenance. Try to make a habit of entering the contact information immediately each time you get a new business card or a new contact. Fancier CRM may have the ability to send out contact or other data collection forms to your clients or prospects. Making good use of these forms can save you lots of time and headache down the road.

Baby Step 3: Get a Quality Scanner

This is the last step on your organization starter list because it is the most time consuming and probably the biggest change to the way you currently handle paperwork. Having a quality scanner will help make the information, paperwork, and notes you have accumulated searchable, easily accessible, and shareable. All of which will help save you a lot of time in the future. The initial task of converting all that paper to digital files is a big one. If you are on a budget you can certainly do it yourself, but there are many firms who specialize in digitizing large volumes of paper files (think Dr. Offices and Law Firms). If the idea of scanning all your own files is too much for you look into a local scanning service in your area to get pricing. As with the CRM however, maintenance is the key. Make sure your digital files are organized in a way that you understand easily and can add to quickly and efficiently. Simply scanning all of your paperwork to your computer’s desktop isn’t going to help you in the long run. Find a system that works for you and don’t be afraid to tweak it as you learn and grow.

Get Organized: It’s the Beginning

The internet is full of endless tips to get organized in your business or personal life. Use these as a starting point but don’t stop there. These three common organizational issues are just the beginning. As you work out streamlined systems for your business operations, more and more organized processes will be needed. But with this start, you will be ready! For more on productivity download our FREE guide “How to be 30% More Productive and Work Less” by filling out the form below:

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