Essential Organizational Techniques You Need as a Business Owner
by Arina Smith Business Planning & Opportunities 13 April 2018
How are your organizational skills? Is your office neat and well-ordered, or do you have piles of paperwork strewn about the place? How about your diary, or your calendar – everything noted down, not just appointments but key dates from your business plan, targets, and review dates? If it sometimes feels like you exist in a maelstrom of paper with staff constantly firing questions at you and having to play catch-up on all the events going on around you, it’s probably time to sit down and look at how you can improve your organizational skills.
Why organizational skills are so important :
They’re important because a lack of organization has such a direct effect on your operations, and if neglected will affect your productivity and thus profitability. Take for example the machinery you use. If it is in full working order, operating at maximum output and all the products are being perfectly manufactured, that is the machine’s role in the productivity chain optimized – there’s nothing more you can do.
Now imagine that your machine is being poorly maintained, or misused. Production rates slow down as more items must be discarded as unfit for sale, operators are losing time trying to fix minor faults or manage with sub-standard machinery, and if it grinds to a halt you lose manufacturing time, staff time and incur a lot of expense getting the machine repaired. To avoid this scenario, use your organizational skills and implement a system of regular maintenance checks using work order software. The system will work in the background to arrange inspections, schedule downtime, and organize the maintenance schedule so that it has a minimal impact on your production rates. As a result, you lose fewer hours of staff time, you avoid expensive overtime costs as you don’t have to go all out to make up for lost time, and the machine continues to perform efficiently and reliably.
First, you need to examine all your processes and assess where a lack of organization is having a detrimental effect. Start with your own office and desk. Everything you produce should have a home, whether it’s in a file or in the recycling, and those files need to have a home too. The more papers and bits and bobs you have cluttering up the place, the more disorganized your workday will be. You will waste time trying to find the document you’re looking for, make even more mess as you get increasingly frustrated, and you will be losing time on something that needn’t have been a problem. The way you file things is a matter of choosing what works for you – no uniform solution suits every business owner or their business. You need to find a system that works for you, that is easy to use and easy for anyone who needs to use it to retrieve what they are trying to locate. The basic principles of office efficiency are straightforward enough:
- Have files for all printed documents which are clearly labeled and make logical sense.
- Have a schedule for archiving or disposing of documents that are not in current use – make sure you stick to regulations about how long certain documents need to be retained.
- Make sure everything is dated clearly including the year.
- Don’t keep anything that isn’t important or useful, send it to the shredder instead.
Exactly the same principles apply to your IT systems. You need clearly labeled folders into which documents can be placed. Make sure the system is set up so that all staff can access one system to prevent duplication and facilitate speedy retrieval of documents. Include dates in your file names and makes sure documents have a named author, that way you will be able to consult whoever wrote the document with ease should the need arise.
One of the keystones of the organization is to have all your dates entered into a diary and/or planner that can be seen or accessed by all the members of your team. Start with appointments – you need to know where you are supposed to be, and who is going to be calling on you in order to plan your day effectively. Include times, locations, the purpose of the meeting and the name of who you are seeing. That way you know exactly what you need to take to the meeting and what you need to know and will be calm and prepared. Everyone in your team will know where you are going to be, and other appointments can be made without fear of double-booking. You should also put key strategic dates into your calendar, targets for the month, goals you aim to achieve and important dates like deadlines for tax returns. When entering dates such as these, put in some countdown dates prior to the event itself as a reminder that the deadline is approaching, so that you are ready for the actual day when it arrives.
There are certain routine tasks and events that need to be planned for in advance, otherwise, they will be put off and delayed and may never be attended to. Staff training is a vital undertaking and training courses should be scheduled in on a regular basis. Neglecting training because you haven’t organized sessions in advance leads to staff not having the skills necessary to perform their role effectively, which in turn leads to them feeling demotivated. As in the example above, maintenance and routine checks need to be scheduled for all your machinery, IT systems, and facilities. Waiting until something breaks down or goes wrong is not an efficient way to deal with maintenance issues, as you will waste time and money trying to sort out problems that could have been prevented.
Once you have put your key organizational structures in place, keep on top of any related issues by reviewing every aspect of your business and how each is operating. Even seemingly small things can have an effect, and if you examine every detail of your business you are sure to find little things here and there that may not seem significant in themselves, but that cumulatively can make a big impact on your productivity, and thus your profits.
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