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When you’re a super busy work-at-home mom, it’s easy to let things get a little disorganized with your business. Organization is quite the task in and of itself. If you make sure you have the proper systems in place, you can get back to doing what you love instead of the less-favorable organization tasks.
A strong organized foundation is a fundamental component to being successful in your freelance business. Here are some ways you can get more organized…
Clear the clutter in your work area
It’s so simple for your work area to get cluttered. It’s where post-its, random notes, pens, and knickknacks end up. It’s the catch-all for all the stuff and paperwork you consider important. But when there are so many “important” items on your desk, nothing is really important.
To clear this clutter, file away notes, receipts, verification forms, paid invoices, etc. — stuff that doesn’t need to sit on your desk.
I love, love pens and my favorite of late are the Sharpie pens! They write smoothly and best of all, don’t bleed through the paper. I am also a sucker for fun and pretty stationery and find that my work desk is always cluttered with awesome pens and cute stationery. What I’ve done lately is just to keep my most-frequently-used pens within reach, and the rest are kept in my drawer.
When my work area is clear and free from clutter, I feel less stressed and do my best work.
Set up a filing system that works for you
As I mentioned above, set up a filing system to store all your important documents. It’s easy to retrieve what you need for future reference. Plus, there are so many cute filing prints to choose from! I also use this portable file box to store overflow that won’t fit into my desk.
Develop a work-tracking system
As a transcript proofreader, it can get very confusing when I have multiple jobs to keep track of. I could easily lose track or forget a deadline for a job and in any industry, not committing to a deadline could easily cost you a client. Luckily, I have a simple system set up to keep track of pending jobs so I never miss a deadline.
As soon as I receive a job from a client, I confirm receipt, then log the information in my spreadsheet. I also add it into my pending invoice. Pending jobs are marked in red on my spreadsheet to further alert me I have not completed it. Once I complete it and return the finished job to my client, I change the color back to black.
Now, this is not a fancy spreadsheet by any means, but it works perfectly for me. And I find the simplest methods are often the best ones.
Opt for paperless when you can
This relates back to clutter, but the more paper there is, the more chances for clutter to run rampant. When I am presented with the option of printing a receipt or confirmation online, I change my printer settings to save as PDF (so it doesn’t print on paper), and it gets saved in a file on my computer drive. This helps prevent paper waste which is good for the environment, and I save money on paper and ink.
Keep personal- and business-related docs separate
Remember that when saving or creating documents related to your business to keep it strictly in a dedicated business spot. This could be a specific folder on your home network or an external hard drive like a USB stick or a cloud-sharing service.
This means don’t save it in the same place as your recipes, family photos, shopping lists, etc.– unless these items are related to your business. It’ll make things so much easier when you need to find stuff for the future. You won’t need to sift through layers of personal stuff.
Another related tip is to not save to your documents or desktop because if your computer crashes, you’ll lose it. And make sure you back up.
Conquer your inbox
If your inbox is anything like mine, it’s filled with special offers, order confirmations, blog newsletters, bill reminders, etc. I actually have five Gmail accounts so perhaps the subject line should have read “Conquer your inboxes”.
Each Gmail account serves a particular purpose. I have one for signing up for free stuff — my junk one if you will, another one for when I was searching for a 9-5 job and would use that for sending out resumes and work-related correspondence, another one for my proofreading business, one for my blogging business, and one for my virtual jobs.
My big relief from all this is making the switch to Google Inbox. It still syncs and works well with original Gmail, so don’t worry that the switch will cause any massive confusion. What I love about it is the ability to mark emails as done and get rid of them from my main inbox screen. I can also snooze stuff to be dealt with at a later time. I encourage you to check it out or watch comparison videos on YouTube for more info.
It’s helped me keep my main inbox screen clean and uncluttered. And I love it for my proofreading business because I keep pending jobs on the main screen and mark them done once the completed job is sent to my client.
Use free tools
I love tools that keep me more productive. The keys to a tool being helpful for me are ease of use and being able to access it from anywhere.
Microsoft OneNote is a favorite of mine! It’s a program for you to keep your typed or handwritten notes. Think of it as a virtual notebook mainly. You can access it from your computer, iPad/tablet, and phone. It automatically saves and synchronizes your notes. You can see that within your notebook (which you can have multiple ones of) it has sections and pages which you can label.
Trello is a program that organizes your ideas/thoughts/projects into one central area — a board. It’s free, but you can always upgrade for more options. The free version works perfectly for my needs. I use it as a content calendar and to keep track of tasks. If you’re working on projects with a team, it’s so easy to assign tasks to certain members. I am a visual person, so I love being able to view past, current, and future tasks all at once in such a clean way.
Tame your accounting records
And last but not least, as a mompreneur, your accounting records need to be on point! I use Wave accounting — also free — and I love, love it! Yes, there is a paid version if you require more options. As a one-woman team, the free version works just fine for me.
So what is Wave? Wave is a company that provides financial and online software for small businesses. I use it to track the financial picture of my working efforts. I’m able to keep track of income and expenses, create and send invoices, etc. It also provides reports come tax time.
Set yourself up for success
Implementing these systems will take some time, and you’ll have to keep at it, so it becomes a habit. Just start small and tackle a few things a day. You can start by throwing away some of that desk clutter right now.
If you do try some of these tips, please come back and let me know. And please share any helpful tips you use to stay on top of your business! Let me know in the comments! 🙂