If the sudden arrival of 2015 has come as a bit of a surprise to you and your business, you are probably not alone.
In our poll here, if you chose no 3, you’re clearly off to a great start. If you chose 2 or even 1, fear not…
Act quickly and you can get back in control and start the new year as you mean to go on.
With a large dose of fast and furious elbow grease, you can achieve some quick wins which will give you a massive “feel good” boost and help you get your year off on firm footing:
1. De-clutter Your Office
It’s hard to think straight when your office or work station and files are are cluttered and in disarray. It’s well worth investing a bit of time up front getting everything straight before you get stuck into the new year.
- Recycle piles of unread trade magazines that currently resemble the leaning tower of Pisa.
- Pare down your filing cabinet. Try to avoid keeping stuff “just in case”.
- Clear out your stationery drawer. Chuck old leaky pens, scraps of paper etc that you never use
- Sell or give to charity all those unread books that have collected dust for years on your bookshelf.
- Adopt a clear desk policy – no more furry animals or mouldy mugs
- Shred or recycle documentation you no longer need. If you must keep it, package it, label it and archive it somewhere safe….and remember where you put it! Stick a list of contents to the top of the box for future ease of reference.
2. Sort Out Your Systems
- Don’t be slack on diary management. On-line diaries are great as long as you can always get to your diary whenever you need to. A basic printed diary is a great back up in emergencies. ALWAYS set up alerts. These save lots of time trying to remember stuff.
- Never lose files again. Streamline your on-line files so you know where to find everything – and so does anyone else you need to have access
- If you haven’t already, adopt a sensible directory and file labelling policy, including directories by year.
- Set up accounts with Dropbox or your preferred cloud system to facilitate sharing of files amongst your team.
- Make sure you have safe and secure back ups of all your work. Archive stuff. Don’t leave anything to chance.
- Review your security – update your passwords, close accounts you no longer need.
3. Manage your Time
- Commit to taking control of your time in 2015.
- Step away from the social media! At least, allocate some time each day to check and update for your business and another chunk for personal contacts. PLEASE be strict with yourself and don’t let yourself be caught up in those apparently “must read” news stories, the latest celebrity gossip or funny stories doing the rounds, however entertaining. There are internet rabbit holes everywhere. If the time is not allocated to them, ignore them.
- Stand back from the email! Put a halt to any suspected email addiction. With all these automated reminders our computers and system give us these days, it’s so easy to get distracted and be fooled into thinking that the latest email to come through deserves your immediate attention. Chances are it absolutely does not. If you dip in to your email every time to get an email alert, when will you ever get anything done? Allocate time, say, twice a day, to check and reply to emails. Be ruthless. Delete rubbish as it comes through. Don’t keep it in your box to distract you later. File and label emails for immediate or later treatment or archiving as necessary.
- Make your meetings count. Don’t book meetings to fool yourself you are busy. Be strict and ask if the meeting you are planning to attend or call is essential and, if so, if it can be done face-to-face or virtually by, say, Skype or ‘phone or even email. Keep it simple wherever possible and save yourself some time. It all adds up in a year.
- No agenda? No meeting. Agree meeting purpose and agenda in advance with participants. Agree a fixed timeslot. Stick to it. It’s sometimes nice to have a chat and let the time just slip away. DO NOT LET IT. Take pride in running meetings that do not overrun. You’ll reap the benefits.
4. Set Broad Aims and Objectives
Ideally, you will already have a detailed business plan as well as a plan for how you will market your business in 2015 and beyond, along with a calendar of everything you are going to get implemented this year.
If you don’t yet, make a start by allocating a couple of hours this week to get down your main aims You can always build from there.
It’s worth writing down your own personal aims too in parallel so that you can avoid clashes and, hopefully, allocate time to both. Remember though that aims are just aims. Objectives are the next step. They are specific and quantified.
Make a start by grabbing a large piece of paper and draw up a table. In true Blue Peter style…..
You can obviously create this straight on your computer. I find that, sometimes, it’s easier to get the thoughts out of your head onto paper first though. Whatever works best – it’s completely up to you. This example just shows some examples of broad aims.
I strongly suggest you make it a priority next to draw up your objectives. Better still, these should form part of your business and marketing plan. If you need some help or guidance on how to go about this, Contact Us
5. Do your Accounts
If you are in the UK, you are probably very well aware that the end of January deadline is looming for the submission of on-line self-assessment tax returns.
Here’s the link:
If you haven’t sorted out your accounts already then to do so should be a large entry in your January Aims and Objectives box and you should set about them without delay!
How to avoid last minute, time-eating panic next time?
- keep all your receipts religiously and file them by month. Plastic wallets labeled with each month and kept in a Lever Arch file works very well for me.
- Maintain a well structured accounts spreadsheet. Your bank will, no doubt, be able to give you one if you don’t already have. Use the same template year after year for ease of comparison.
- Put a diary date in your diary every week and make sure you allocate time to updating your accounts. It seems like a chore but doing it this way will definitely save you time and heartache in the long run!