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
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.