Working in clutter is a sure way of clouding your thinking and stunting your creativity. Of course, not everyone likes a pristine desk and workspace, but even those who like it a bit messy will say there’s a system in their muddle.
Here are four top tips for whipping your workspace into line.
Cut Down on Paper
If you use an online accounting service/package, you can scan most receipts and use these electronic copies as evidence for HMRC.
Don’t let paper pile up. One tip that sounds daft but actually works really well is to have a nice, big waste paper basket. It sets up a psychological trigger that encourages you to bin stuff faster. An example might be that pile of leaflets and brochures gathering dust in the corner, because you thought you might ‘do something’ with it later.
Organise the Paper That’s Left
We haven’t quite reached the ‘paperless’ office stage yet, so there’s still a need for files and a corresponding filing system. At the very least, you’ll need three:
A cash book – use it for daily accounting: money in and money out of the bank, including charges, and petty cash if you use it.
A Sales Invoice File – Accounting software or online packages will keep electronic copies of invoices so no worries there, but if you also generate some invoices manually, using Word or Excel for instance, you need to file a paper copy. It helps to keep unpaid invoices on top so you can see who still owes you money. Once it’s paid, move it down to it’s appropriate folder.
Purchase Invoice File – When you receive an invoice, keep hold of it as proof you’ve made that business expenditure. Write on the invoice when you paid and how (cheque, cash, BACS). You can keep them in date order so they’re easy to find when needed.
Have two trays, one for incoming paperwork that includes mail, memos, documents, folders – all the stuff you have yet to look at. In the other goes anything you’ve looked at but still need to deal with. This simple system keeps everything neat — it’s still there, but it’s not all over your desk and shelves.
Keep The Books Up To Date
Up to date records serve two functions: First, if HMRC comes knocking at your door with questions, you’ll be able to answer them without any frantic rummaging through a pile of disorganised paper. Second, you can more easily spot crucial information such as a customer who’s foot-dragging over paying his or her invoice.
There are three aspects to updating the books:
You have copies of all invoices for money you’ve received.
You have copies of receipts for all your business expenditure.
The balance showing in your accounts matches that showing in your bank.
Busy businesses need to keep on top of these three aspects daily. Micro businesses can get away with a couple of hours each week or even each month.
Prioritise and Get Help
Accounting is a constantly turning cog in any business. Keep it well oiled and tended and the business machine runs smoothly. Neglect it and it’ll start creaking and eventually bring the whole operation to a grinding halt.
If you can’t keep up with it yourself, it makes sense to hire a bookkeeper and/or an accountant, then use the freed up time to earn more money.
Mental clutter is as bad as physical clutter for sapping your strength and dulling your mind. On the flip side, knowing your books are neat and clean, up to date, and organised creates a wave of energy and a burst of renewed motivation.