When the task of filing and dealing with the paperwork comes up, many of us slump our shoulders, as if we have regressed to being 12 and asked to tidy our rooms. But it can be a great opportunity to have a fresh look at your systems and processes and a chance to evaluate if keeping so much paper is truly necessary going forward. If paperwork is always the last thing on your to do list, then it might have built up and that can feel daunting, but tackling it mindfully is a great way to streamline your business, so you don’t waste valuable billable hours on admin tasks going forward.
So, what can you to today to help?
The first thing you can do is to look for ways to create less paper to begin with. You don’t need to print all your emails and documents, so make an online filing system, on your hard drive and within your email. You can also scan physical documents that you need to keep.
Depending on your industry and your interest in adopting newer technologies, it is possible to keep most of your info online, but back it up regularly and make sure it is secure.
JUST TACKLE IT
There is no escaping the fact, when the paperwork pile has snow on it’s lower slopes, you are just going to have to suck it up and deal with it.
To make it easier, decide what method works best for you. Is it easier for you to devote a block of time to get it out of the way, or schedule 15 mins every day? Ditch the procrastination and just do it.
Whilst you are dealing with it is an excellent time to look at your processes with fresh eyes. Look at your systems, at what comes in and what needs to go out, and think about how you can streamline that. By knowing what you need to deal with most often, and what you need to retrieve, you can simplify your systems to make things easier going forward.
Make sure you are not duplicating paper and keeping hold of information that you don’t need to. But before just sweeping the pile into the recycling in one go, make sure you are aware of any government regulations and best practice.
Make sure your physical filing place is adequate – there are so many options; ring binders, filing cabinet, hanging folders in a box. Make sure you have enough space, room to archive and that paper that needs to accessed frequently is readily available.
When filing think about what criteria you use to find things again; is it by date? by customer? by product? By job number? Use these to create folders so you can find things again.
HAVE A PLAN
Once you have cleared the paperwork mountain, you need to try and ensure that it does not get out of hand again.
Make a dedicated time for dealing with your paper. When you open your mail in the morning, aim for one touch – open and deal with it, including filing it away if necessary.
Every week, have 15 mins of dedicated filing time, and every month spend another 15 mins archiving previous paperwork you no longer need access to.
If you have been putting off dealing with your paperwork because it felt so overwhelming, then it will take some effort to get things back under control. But the payoffs of a tidy office and being able to find things easily, and the confidence that brings are definitely worth it.
If you would like a no obligation chat about how I can help you keep on top of your paperwork work, then please get in touch; Carol@AllSorted.me, 07919100076, www.AllSorted.me