Five tips to help you keep a well-organised desktop, manage your clients better, and live a decluttered life.
Written by Brad | JUNE 2017 | Reading time = 4m30s.
There is a good chance that keeping a clean, well-organised desktop, filing and client management system isn’t at the top of your priority list. But have you considered the impact disorganisation is having on your business? How often do you go searching for a document you were certain had been saved? Have you recently spent time Googling an article unable to remember the title? Do you regularly scour through an endless inbox of emails? This all adds up. But this is only the obvious and visible tax you are paying for being disorganised. Having a clean and well-organised desktop and management system will free up a whole lot of unnecessary psychological strain you are placing on yourself. It will empower you to become a better business owner. It will allow you to improve the service you provide and build better relationships with clients.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, secret method, or magical application that is going to help you become immediately more organised. Getting organised is much the same as getting healthy. It takes time, consistency, failing, improving, refining, implementing. There are plenty of helpful tools and software out there. But at the end of the day, if you can’t get your shit together, and stick to it, nothing is going to help you. That being said, there are some fundamental rules essential for anyone wanting to declutter their desktop and management systems.
1. Develop a filing system. Begin the cull
First, you need to create a new filing/folder structure. You should make this as minimal as possible. This system should clearly separate work from personal life. You might choose to have folders for personal stuff, programs & schedules, clients, legal etc. You will eventually change these folders around, so start as minimal as possible. You then need to start the cull. Let’s imagine for a second you’ve been putting off the cleaning of a wardrobe or room for years, but the time has now come. You create two piles – keep, chuck. Apply this same principle to not only your desktop, but all related client and file management systems, including your email inbox. If you are unsure, I would recommend leaning towards the chuck pile. You will almost certainly delete something you shouldn’t have deleted and be pissed about it. But that’s trade-off. If you are concerned, you should back up all your files onto an external hard drive. Every file, document, email, should either be deleted or moved to one of the folders you have created.
2. Always take immediate action
This is absolutely the key to becoming organised. Any single email, file, or document that finds its way to your desktop or inbox from now on, should be dealt with immediately. If you can reply or sort it out quickly, deal with it and then delete it or store it in one of your folders. But don’t store something for no reason. Too often, we receive an email or save a file, but then leave it to gather dust. We then spend time looking for it again, reopening and editing it, moving it, and then never using it. This just adds to the clutter making others things hard to find.
In Getting things done: the art of stress-free productivity, David Allen preaches what I think is one of the best systems of organisation. Do it, delegate it, defer it, or trash it. Essentially, any file or email you come in contact with which can be dealt with in under two minutes, should be dealt with and then discarded. Anything which can’t be immediately dealt with, should be delegated to someone else who can (reception staff, VA, your mum, etc.). Anything that can’t be immediately dealt with or delegated, should be stored with an actionable plan (calendar reminder of when and how it should be dealt with later).
3. Connect and deal with everything
There’s no point having an organised desktop, but a disorganised email inbox and client management system. If you are using a CRM or booking system like MindBody, now’s the time to clean these things up as well. Delete old clients and files, duplicate client files, and any unnecessary notes. Ensure your folder system and structure is universal across all platforms and devices. And ensure you don’t save the same thing in two different places. This is where you really need to consider moving all of your files, folders and client information online.
4. Head for the clouds
It’s a little scary that everything is making its way online, and just how much of our personal information lives on the web. But it is what it is. And the reality is, very soon computers or devices as we know them aren’t going to exist. Everything will be accessible through a device no bigger than a watch face. I would argue that in 2017, it’s time to get almost everything off your desktop and into a cloud system. You should literally drag your existing folder system into online storage which can be accessed from all devices at all times.
It’s a bit of a privacy scare most people need to get over. The upside, is that you can connect every online interaction, device or software you have. Not to mention the piece of mind that comes with having an online backup if you face the possibility of a computer crash. For a few bucks a month, you can get a Gmail business account. This gives you a heap of online storage space, calendar access, your own integrated @yourbusiness.com email addresses, easy integration with CRM’s and booking systems, address books, and much more. If you don’t like Gmail most other major email services offer something similar, while you also have Dropbox and other professional cloud storage options.
5. Create & maintain an individual folder for each client
If you wish to build a personal relationship with each of your clients (and you should) dedicating a space for each of them is a great way to help you grow the relationship. If you are using a CRM service, this should be enough, so it might not be worth doubling up. But if you only have a booking system, it’s definitely worth creating individual client folders. Imagine being on holiday somewhere and reading a fitness article on your phone you think would be really helpful for one of your clients. Instead of trying to remember the article, saving it to your desktop, finding it later, printing it, and then giving it to your client. You can quickly save the file in the client’s folder, phone one of your trainers, ask them to read the article and pass the information on to the client on their next visit.
Read this article for tips on creating and building individual relationships with your clients.
If you fail (you will), and after a busy week your desktop, inbox, and organisation plan falls back into an unorganised mess, don’t worry. Get straight back at it. Each time you clean and refine your folder structure, things will get a little easier. Eventually, you will streamline your organisation system and never look back. I guarantee this will make a huge difference to the success and growth of your business.
SHOUT OUT: This article was inspired by The life‑changing magic of tidying up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organising. Written by Marie Kondo. And Getting things done: the art of stress-free productivity. Written by David Allen.
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