DIY Info - Business

5 Quick Tips to Better Manage Your Time Using Microsoft Outlook
 

February is "Time Management" month - and who couldn't use more time?  Whether you are using Microsoft Outlook 2003 or 2007, the concepts behind these tips will work with both versions of the software.

Try these tips at the office or at home to help you save time each day - a few minutes here and there all add up.
 

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Eliminate Chaos in the Office
 

What does office disorganization cost your company?

A recent survey by Office Depot found that 82% of workers feel a keen focus on organization helps them succeed in business, however 32% admit to a disorganized workspace and 45% confessed to cleaning up the clutter only once a month or less. Disorganization can have ramifications on how a business is run. The survey found that disorganization commonly leads to lost time (47%), meeting tardiness (16%) and missed deadlines (14%). This proportion increases among workers of small business (36%).

As a small business owner, you have likely dealt with the challenges of disorganization. In my discussions with entrepreneurs and small business owners, I have come across a litany of organizing misconceptions. Here are some solutions to your most common organizing woes:

There is no right or wrong way to be organized.

We’ve all heard of “right brained” vs. “left brained” individuals. Those that are “right brained” tend to be more creative and thus disorganized. The fact of the matter is that those that are “right brained” tend to be more “visual” and therefore they like to see what they are working on – and thus much of what they work on is out in the open. It’s really about creating systems and processes that the individual can maintain to be efficient and productive. The work can be out in the open, as long as it is done so in an organized fashion so that when the information is needed – it can be retrieved.

Organization doesn’t need to be in your genes.

I am here to testify that organization does not need to be something you are born with – after all, I was adopted and I can guarantee you that many of the organization skills I learned at a young age, I learned from both of my parents. Instead of playing the blame game, be proactive and seek help.

Being neat and tidy is NOT the same as being organized.

It’s easy to take a clean sweep off your desk top into a box, bag or desk drawer. This puts a Band-Aid on the problem, but doesn’t find a solution. In most instances, people desire solutions. The clean sweep may be a temporary solution, but at some point you must face the underlying disorganization.

Categorize files for easy access.

The key to a great filing system is the ability to “retrieve” the information when you need it. The act of “filing” the paper away is simple – the critical step lies in how you categorize it so that you and others can access it.

Develop an organization system before you hire an Office Manager or Office Assistant.

Many managers and business owners I’ve worked with in the past, contact me after they’ve hired an Office Manager or Office Assistant because they are frustrated that this individual has done very little to help them get organized. In order for this individual to be successful, there must be systems and processes that they can follow on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Typically, this person is not the individual that will “create” the systems or processes but rather “maintain” them. In many cases, the individual hired to work in this role may not have the background to develop those processes or systems for you – yet they are excellent at using the systems. It is critical that the Manager or Business Owner play a key role in the development of these systems because most likely they will be the ones using them long after the individual hired to help them has moved on.

Stuff

Clutter in your office, whether on your work surface or on the floor, can be extremely distracting. If you’re used to working in this kind of environment, you may not even be aware that the clutter is distracting you. It also causes unnecessary stress, because the items lying around often represent unfinished business. Having a system and a place to put things in your office will help minimize the distractions and eliminate extra stress. Here are a few tips to help you declutter your office:
 

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How to Keep Track of Everything

How do you keep track of everything you need “to-do” or “want” to-do? Do you prefer paper or an online application – or maybe a combination of both? A to-do list is an essential organizing and productivity tool – but it is more than just a tool. The tool, whether paper, a planner or an electronic solution, is where you capture your to-do’s, (or action items as I like to call them) and create a system(process) that you use regularly. Your system for managing your action items might include:
• How often you refer to your system or a specific time of day you review it
• How you ensure that new action items or want-to-do’s get added to your system
• How you categorize or group your action items so your lists remain manageable
• How often you review your system and eliminate items that are no longer a priority

Any system you create requires “maintenance” and your to-do list is no different – that is why it’s a combination of the tool (paper or electronic) and the system (process) you implement that will help you be successful in managing your action items.

In my soon-to-be-released book; Eliminate the Chaos at Work, I dedicated an entire chapter to various applications – both paper and electronic to help you track, monitor and accomplish your action items and projects. In my consulting practice with individuals at work and at home, I know that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Because of this, I’d like to share with you three online applications that you may want check out on your own and see if one of them is right for you.
 

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