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|Organization Tuesday: End of the Year--Chaos or Quiet?||Views: 380|
|Dec 10, 2008 4:04 am||Organization Tuesday: End of the Year--Chaos or Quiet?||#|
|By the time you read this, there will be fewer than a dozen "business"
days left in 2008. Of course, that doesn't mean you won't be
working more than that, but in most cases, you won't be communicating
with clients on the weekends, or on Christmas or New Year's Eve or Day.
Plus, with both of those holidays falling on Thursdays this
year, even if you're in the office on the following Fridays, your
clients won't be.|
Depending on how your
business is experiencing the current economy -- and I'm hearing from
savvy marketers who are swamped with new business right
now -- the next few weeks might be ridiculously busy or insufferably
slow. Even if you have a great schedule that fits your
typical workload, unexpectedly busy weeks might tempt you into forgoing
your usually adept time management skills, inducing you to cut corners
and skip steps that otherwise keep you on top of things.
Conversely, if things are too slow in your neck of the woods,
you might subconsciously find sticking to your usual plans pointless.
If the dark weather is matched by dark moods, you
might fall into an abyss, ignoring the essential tasks and
creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Either way, you may be
letting your workload (or lack thereof) control you, rather than the
other way around.
So, today, we're going look at some tips for a two-pronged
approach for handling your time during the rest of the year.
IF YOU'RE CRAZY-BUSY...
probably don't think you have time to read these tips.
But the ironic thing about having a full client load is that
it tends to prevent you from doing all the mundane, quotidian tasks
like marketing (to keep that pipeline full), bookkeeping (so you're
sure you're getting paid for all that labor), and maintaining the
essential business processes. So, just three quick tips for
Embrace Youthful Thoughts.
Bribe your 16-year-old with car privileges or your
12-year-old with computer time (pay off the neighbor's savvy but
under-employment-age offspring) to come in a few hours a week to help
you keep your head above water. They don't need fancy
bookkeeping skills (though they can probably learn Quickbooks faster
than we did). However, they can sort receipts by
month and date and clip them together for you to make journaling and
data entry go more quickly. If they can drive (or you're
within walking distance), let
them run your business and personal errands like shopping
for office supplies and client gifts (from a list you provide), doing
the post office run, making photocopies at the copy place and printing
and affixing labels to clients' holiday cards and invoices.
Of course, a virtual assistant is great, but if you need
someone to water the plants and
transcribe the voicemail messages, get the family tax break of
hiring your own kids.
Don't Eat, Drink or Be
Too Merry. Look at your calendar right now
through the end of the year. Do you see any clear spots or
crevices where the light shines through? Book that time for your most
important, most needy client: YOU! If
you run yourself ragged, fail to get enough sleep, eat nothing but
holiday food and neglect to wash your hands after you touch germy
doorknobs, public photocopy machines and the tester bottles everyone
else has already touched, you'll probably spend the holiday weeks in
bed with the flu, or the first two weeks of the year, moving at a
Capture Your Brilliance.
If you're working at a speedy pace, it's easy to let those
lightbulb moments disappear. If you get a great idea for a
blog post or are suddenly struck by a high-revenue-potential digital
product, don't count on
your memory and don't scribble on a scrap of
paper. If you're anywhere near your planner or tickler file,
write the idea down as completely as you can and tuck it away on a date
in early January that you've assigned as Brilliance Day.
Just knowing you've blocked time to craft your blocks of mental clay
into works of genius will give your brain permission to
stop thinking of
the idea, and start thinking about
IF IT'S TOO QUIET...
...you may be a little depressed and wonder about the point of getting
into the office "on time". The more dour your mood, the less
likely you'll want to do the social networking that really helps build
your prospective customer base, and the less inspired you'll be to
write articles that to power up your list and draw new people into
your marketing funnel.
Small victories build upon one another. Work bit by bit on
accomplishing any of the tasks below, and you'll find your confidence
Get Rid of Last Year's
Shmutz. Clean your desk, figuratively and
literally. First, start by following all the tips we talked
about way back in the Clean
Desk Club discussion last year. Then, get out that
Lemon Pledge (or whatever) and clean your desk. Vacuum.
Dust the blinds--heck, dust the baseboards. If you
have visitors in your office, won't they feel more
confident about your skills if it looks like you care about your
surroundings? And even if nobody visits except
your kids and the pizza delivery person, don't YOU deserve a
pleasant-smelling, dust-less, environment, free of dead plants, broken
office tools and wobbly chairs?
Combine Holiday Sales
with Tax Deductions. Do you need office
supplies? Is that plastic static guard under your desk
cracked and in need of replacement? Are you craving a new
desk chair, an upgraded computer or software, calendar/planner pages
for 2009? Take a peek at the expense side of your ledger from
the current year. Whether or not your income kept pace with
where you needed it to be, there are some expenses you eventually have
to take, so why not take advantage of holiday sales and coupons to ramp up those lasts-minute tax
deductions before the deadline?
Organize the Money,
Honey. If you practice sound accounting, you
probably keep a general journal of accounts and expenses.
was the last time you recorded transactions?
I've seen clients lately who haven't input expense or revenue
information since just before Labor Day. If your receipts and
financial paperwork have turned into clutter creep, gather all your
paperwork together, follow my RAFT
method and once you have a hearty stack of "to input" items,
get going on that data entry. Play holiday music in the
background to keep yourself in a festive mood. The various online radio
stations with holiday themes are particularly motivating.
Schedule two 15-minute blocks, one in the morning and one in
the afternoon. No matter how sluggish you're feeling, you can
do anything for 15 minutes, right?
Purge and Archive the
Files. I know what you're thinking.
BO-RING. Right? Wrong. I
guarantee that if you start with your client files (assuming they go
from A-Z...if not, what a perfect time to get them in order), you'll find gold in them.
Plan to go through two letters of the alphabet each day
(though you'll probably zip though W-X-Y and Z all on the same burst of
inspiration). Pull out each client folder, peruse the pages,
and see if there is any unfinished business.
Did you have something to research for this client that you never got
around to, or have you learned something new and helpful since the last
time you chatted? Send
a cheery email or leave a message when you know they'll be out
of the office, providing that helpful nugget. They
won't fear you'll be taking up their super-busy pre-holiday time with
an eventual sales pitch, they won't associate you with a twinge of
guilt for not having hired you back (the economy might be an awkward
topics for them right now, too), and they'll be thrilled you took the
time to think of them.
out out-of-date information. Keep only what is accurate and
current. If a client was a one-time-only type, or you had a
negative interaction, archive those files and get the bad energy out of
your office. Send the archives to live away from your prime
real estate, either in a dedicated file drawer where the "dead" files
won't depress you when you go looking for the active ones, or in a
banker's box in your storage closet.
Set the Stage for 2009.
Imagine you're so active with new business 60 days from now,
you can barely catch your breath. Wouldn't it be nice to know
that you had all the supplies, files and scheduled tasks already
covered? Consider the following:
Just as you've created space in your schedule for everything you need
to handle, create fresh
spaces in your office. A feng shui expert
recommends putting ten
new, blank manila folders at the front of your
customer/client files. I think it's some sort of "If you
build it, they will come" ritual. Create folders for handling
your 2009 expenses and 2009 tax prep (personal and business) and start
developing files for conferences
you'll attend, giving the registration and travel information somewhere
to live. Then put the file away until the next time you need
it, but put a note in the appropriate month's tickler slot or
calendar page to remind you where you've sequestered it.
(It's not cheating. It's time travel--talking to
your future self!)
- Buy your new
calendar/planner and fill in all the recurring information
(client's birthdays, conference dates, etc.) Check your
Chamber of Commerce web site to find out when the local business expos
and trade shows will be scheduled and block time on your calendar to
- Next, make appointments for the coming year. Look
through your calendar to see who you met with last year, and brainstorm
who you'd really like to meet. Get on the schedule now before
people hit January and realize they need to get their acts together.
the money--schedule appointments with your CPA by
the first week of February, by which time you should already have all
your 1099s, 1098s, and whatever else you need. What about
your financial planner? Your bookkeeper? Your
- Don't forget your health
and self-care. Schedule your annual check-up,
recurring tests, dental cleanings and vision checks...even
your massages, fitness training sessions and chiropractic or
acupuncture appointments. Just as the financial advisors say,
you have to save and pay
yourself first or you'll always find ways to spend the
money before you've saved a penny. You have to schedule your
life-saving, sanity-saving times to preserve your mental and physical
- Finally, build
administrative days into your schedule. For
example, I schedule no client sessions on Mondays, so that I know I
will always have one day per week for marketing, attending to finances
and handling other administrivia.
It also makes Sunday nights stress-free, as I know the only
meanie I'll be facing on Monday morning...is me!
Whether you're Speedy Gonzalez or one of the Slowskys,
take a few minutes every day for a deep breath. Clear the
decks, clear your desk and enjoy
the holidays and the last few weeks of the year.
Julie Bestry, Certified Professional Organizer®
Best Results Organizing
"Don't apologize. Organize!"
to save time and money, reduce stress and increase your productivity
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