A couple of months ago, I spent a few days reorganizing the physical things in my office. I have a lot of shelves, which is a good thing – until it isn’t. I reached the point where my serenity was challenged when I noticed that I had stacks of stuff everywhere and couldn’t find anything.
Once I cleaned one area, I couldn’t stop. It got worse before it got better since I also had to organize all the places I needed to move things to. Three days later, I felt great.
Recently, I reached that same out-of-control feeling with my digital space. Back in the day, when New Tricks was but a young pup, our online company files were well organized.
We had processes, checklists, and templates for everything we did. All of our bios, head-shots, and marketing collateral were organized into folders, easily accessible for when we needed them for speaking engagements or events. Our online client files had everything organized into specific folders so we could easily put our hands on the final versions of their collateral. We didn’t have as much business back then but life was good.
Then time marched on, our business grew, our marketing collateral changed over time, we had new head-shots, and product offerings developed. Our processes changed or worse lapsed and our files became . . . dysfunctional.
Our carefully crafted systems crumbled and I often found myself being the monkey in the middle trying to locate or update this or that before emailing it to one of my team members. As you can probably guess, this is not my favorite part of my job.
Two weeks ago, I said enough of this and hired a fantastic project manager on a short-term basis to help me revamp and organize all of our processes and templates.
While we are on a roll, we are also reevaluating all of our productivity tools and how we use them.
We have been using Freshbooks for years because I like its clean interface for invoicing. But, truth be told, it adds an additional step to our accounting since when we get a payment we have to mark the invoice paid in Freshbooks and also enter the deposit into Quickbooks, our accounting software.
I have seen how this creates a place for possible errors so we are going to move the invoicing process to Quickbooks where my bookkeeper can handle it all in one place.
For several years, I used Dropbox to sync my desktop and laptop computers. This worked fine when it was just me. And then we had to get an expensive professional account as our team grew. The problem was our clients had a hard time sharing the content with us through Dropbox and complained about the space it hogged on their computers. So we made the change to use Google Drive which has made a huge difference to our productivity.
Although they can download files from Dropbox online, it is cumbersome and hampers their ability to find our shared files. We are looking into other options such as a business Evernote account for sharing resource files.
I have used Evernote for quite some time, mostly as a way to save and organize articles and images that I find while browsing the web. This beats copying and pasting the article and images to my computer.
I can be reading an article online, or find a cool website design and with the click of a button on my browser, I can save them into an Evernote notebook to use for later research. A business account gives us all access to the same files as well as some other cool features.
For project management, we are using Trello. Any tool is only as good as the way you set it up and use it. Finally, we have hit upon a tool that we all can and do use. We have boards to track projects through phases including invoicing and payments. We have updated our process templates, and are adding all of the relevant backup information. We can even add email messages to specific tasks. This is a huge time and aggravation saver. I hate searching through my emails for something a client sent me only to realize that there are thirty messages from that client with the same subject.
When I was reorganizing my office, it got worse before it got better. I am at that point with this project too. But each doc that I get updated and filed where it needs to be, and each process that gets updated, lets me see there is light at the end of this tunnel.
The bright light at the end of my tunnel is that when we get these systems in place I am going to hire a project manager to manage all of these processes so I can get back to doing the parts of the business I love and am best at.
I’d love to hear how you organize your business and home files, processes and procedures, and what’s working for you. Leave a comment below to share your success or frustrations.