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How To Organize Your Business For 2011

On New Year’s Eve I saw a tweet that said, “Forget all those New Year’s resolutions – just clean and organize your damn office!”

As an organizer of offices, I couldn’t have said it better myself.  If “get organized” was/is your New Year’s resolution, you’re not alone. According to the Washington Times, it’s one of the most popular resolutions made by Americans each year.

It’s never about the paper; it’s always about a greater goal. To organize your office is to organize your business. Basic organization is the foundation for achieving any New Year’s resolution you set for your business.

There were five things I did the first week of 2011 to feel like I was giving my business a fresh start. I didn’t necessarily set out to “organize my business in 2011,” but the mood struck and in less than a cumulative two hours, my business was indeed organized for 2011.

Here’s exactly how I did it:

1. Create a “Magical Monthly Marketing Checklist.”

By far the most helpful thing I’ve done for my business so far in 2011 was to create this checklist. It is a simple Word document to be printed each month where I check off a pre-designated number of new clients, attended networking events, booked talks, and contacted local and national press leads.

To see the column of blank check boxes in early January is not daunting at all; it’s downright exhilarating! Please contact me if you’d like me to send you a copy.

2. Get the mega-purge out of the way.

It’s no great organizing secret that to keep sanity in the file drawers, you must regularly sort and purge. Just when I thought there was nothing more to toss, five more file folders went out.

Even if “regular” to you means once a year, take advantage of the New Year mood and get your mega-purge out of the way now. I’ve seen offices that haven’t been purged in 20+ years and it’s not pretty.

Trust me, you want to get the trash bags out as soon as you finish reading.

3. Mirror 2011’s files after 2010’s files (if you had 2010 files!).

Every business owner should have a series of current year’s files. These usually include bank statements, paid utilities and bills. If you were organized in 2010, then you have folders with “2010” on the label.

We all know how thick a year-less and vague “Statements” folder can get if left to its own devices.

Before shredding or sending these off to the accountant, simply mirror the folders with a new set of fresh “2011” files.

4. Designate one single space for 2011 receipts.

All too often I see receipts scattered to all corners of the office. In most cases, a file folder marked “2011 Business Receipts” will do.

For those who are averse to using file folders, a desktop basket or pretty box will do. Whatever, you choose, be sure that it remains the one and only place you drop receipts. Anything more is a slippery slope to crumpled, faded receipt chaos.

5.  Shred old tax returns.

Though we are generally told to keep tax returns for 7 years, there are varying opinions on how long to save these. We all have our own comfort levels with how large to keep our collection of tax returns. Be it 3, 7, or 10 years that you keep yours, this is the time of year to visit your tax files and shred the ones that are no longer worth the space they claim.

To invest a couple of hours into organizing your business this January is to give yourself the freedom to make a different resolution next year.

And to do this every January is to ensure that you won’t have to call me 20 years from now!

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Image © Kacy Paide, used with permission

Office Organizing Expert Kacy Paide of The Inspired Office loves to do what most people hate: sort paper. Your messy office is her puzzle to be solved.  She designs functional, beautiful paper flow systems and that people actually want to use.  Always up for a challenge, she focuses on creative types who claim to be out-of-sight-out-of-mind.  The entrepreneurial life is all she’s ever known, having started her business immediately after graduating college in 2001. A Washington, D.C. native, you can connect with Kacy at her site, Twitter, or Facebook.


    1. Kacy!

      Great list. I especially love number 1! Having a workable marketing worksheet as you suggested is a must-do for your business. It makes a world of difference in both your productivity and your profitability.

      Thanks for the great suggestions!

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    2. great tips I need that monthly checklist too sounds amazing :) for accomplishing goals

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    3. Here I was thinking I was pretty good about purging stuff… but your #1 idea is just terrific! Am creating it today for my own work — THANKS!

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