Spring is on the horizon. We’re starting to see the snow dissipate, the flowers bloom, and the trees regain their leaves (at least some of you should be seeing this). One of the customs that we have adopted is spring cleaning. The idea of purging a lot of excess in your life provides a clean slate from which to conduct your life. What better time to prioritize your office’s organization than during spring cleaning? Office spring cleaning is the practice of setting your office up for success.
Set up a filing system
First, getting your office nice and clean requires a lot of attention. Setting up your filing system is vital. If you’re the type of person that just throws everything on your desk in a pile or in a bin and never remembers it’s there, this is for you. Set up categories that matter to you. My personal filing system is set up in things that are prioritized by category. First, bills to pay. Then, bills that are paid. Third, just for the records, and finally, things that are archived, but still important to retain (like tax records and such).
Setting up your filing system is more about appealing to what you’re looking at. You may have different categories that are important to you. Incoming correspondence, for example, might be something that is on paper for you. Setting up files to organize your incoming correspondence may be vital to you. Set up a correspondence file for clients and vendors to make sure that you don’t miss anything. If you work in paper contracts, set up a file with execution dates for contracts. This will help keep you honest with deadlines. for upcoming projects.
Or, organize things by date of appointment. Doctors and lawyers are great at this. They have their appointment books and files laid out for the next day at the end of the previous day. If you’re a busy professional with a ton of appointments, take the time to set out your files for the next day in a smaller filing cabinet, or if your files are electronic, set them on your desktop so that you can have them ready when your client comes in.
Take some spring cleaning to your email inbox
I am so guilty of this. If something seems like it’ll be useful at any time in the future, I will keep it forever. I’m an email pack rat. If you’re guilty of this like me, take some time to go through those emails. Find the ones that you’ve been ignoring and make those ones go straight to the garbage. And empty the garbage. This will give you a clean view of your to-do list. If you need some emails just for your records, create a folder in your email for archives and send those to those archives. Keep only the currently pertinent emails hanging around. Trust me, you’ll feel so much better for it. If you’re like me, I will go insane seeing something sitting in my email for any longer than a few days. So, I will be cleaning out my inbox, needless to say.
Don’t neglect your social media channels
If you have a ton of Evergreen posts sitting around, take this opportunity to prioritize the ones that do the best. Use the Analytics on your social media channels to find out what gets the most traction. Once you’ve figured out your best posts, set a schedule around those posts and fill in with the ones that may need a little bit more attention. dlvr.it has a great suite of tools that will help you set your Evergreen posting to the right specifications with the correct categories. Simply set one category with the prioritized posts, and then set another category with the less important posts. Then, set your schedule to alternate posts how you would like. Using your EverQueue, you can avoid posting too frequently.
Take the time to evaluate your vendors
Spring cleaning is the perfect time to re-evaluate the tools that you’re using. I tend to get used to a tool set or two, and never stray from those tools. However, if you’re using a lot of tools for a job that could be done by one tool, it would save you time, effort, and money to use fewer tools. Typically, a single tool will be a much better solution than many. For example, if you can edit sound and video with one tool, you would want to do that. In my case, I prefer SnagIt to capture video, audio, and screencaps. This tool helps to keep things consolidated and very simple. Using specific tools for specific jobs can be great, but if you can combine those jobs, all the better.
Remove unnecessary subscriptions
Huffington Post has an excellent suggestion. They suggest going through your email for subscriptions that haven’t pulled their weight. Check over the subscriptions that you have in your email and see if you’ve bothered opening the emails from these people anytime in the last month. If you haven’t, ditch them! You can subscribe later if you need to. For the most part, though, getting rid of the dead weight is only going to benefit you.
Update your templates
Particularly if you use a standard format for pretty much everything, updating these templates is essential to maintaining your business. Have you updated a policy in the last year? Put it in your contract. Do you now want to make deals via email for the most part? Write electronic templates for common issues. All of these templates will come in handy, whether you use them on paper or electronically.
Go digital whenever possible
Do you have to keep receipts for tax purposes? Get them input into your computer. Do you have a giant stack of bills taking up space on your desk? Put them into a spreadsheet and shred the paper copies. Keep doing this as your bills come in. Not only will the paper decrease, but you will be far more organized than if you had to remember a silly piece of paper. Also, get ebills as often as you can. Electronic bills can come into your email inbox and garner your attention much faster than a bill that might get lost in the mail.
Putting it all together
All-in-all, spring cleaning is about making your life easier with a clean slate. By getting organized on paper and in your computer, you will usually be happier because you won’t be forgetting things. I have trouble remembering all the items that I have to do, and getting together a to-do list by cleaning out the inbox that you haven’t touched in a year is only going to provide you with more time in your life.