Six Simple Tips for Increasing Sales and Peace of MindBy Barbara Hemphillorganization, paperwork, best practices
Have you ever found a lead on a scrap of paper after the
prospect purchased from your competition? Are you spending time
recreating proposals because you can't find a similar one you wrote
a few months ago? Do you run out of the door for an appointment at
the last minute because you couldn't find the samples you really
wanted to take? Are you feeling overwhelmed? If so, here are six
simple steps to help create the office environment you deserve, one
that will help you increase sales and decrease stress.
1. Make a date with yourself for getting your act
Plan a minimum of three hours during which there will be no
interruptions. Decide on a reward when you're finished. Do
everything you can to reduce your stress during the process. Put on
some music, grab a drink, get plenty of trash bags and recycling
bins, and get cleaning!
2. Practice the Art of Wastebasketry--Aside from whats
absolutely necessary, take everything off your desk.
Research shows that 80 percent of what you keep you never use.
Tossing or keeping is not a moral issue, it is a practical one. So
how do you decide what to keep? For each piece of paper, ask
yourself these questions: Does it require action? Would it be
difficult to get again? Is it recent enough to be useful? Does it
have any tax or legal implications? If the answers to all those
questions are no, then what's the worst thing that could happen if
you didn't have this piece of paper? Toss it, recycle it, or give
it to someone else who can use it
3. Get the right tools for your business.
Put three trays on your desk: In, out and file:
* In is for new mail--papers you have not yet looked at.
* Out is for items that need to go elsewhere, such as the post
office or to another room.
* File is for papers you need to file outside the reach of where
Eliminate paper whenever you can with electronic tools, such as a
contact management program or a financial management program.
4. Implement the FAT system--File, Act or
File it in a reference file in case you will need it in the future.
Act on it immediately if it has a deadline or it is of utmost
importance. Otherwise, toss it.
5. Create an action filing system.
All of the papers that require immediate attention can be divided
into two major categories:
1) Tasks that have to be done at a specific time, such as filing
a quarterly report; and
2) Tasks for which you have not yet identified a deadline, or that
are on-going, such as calling on prospects.
Use a desktop filing box for current projects, clients or trips.
Create individual Action Files for tasks you do over and over
again, such as Prospects to Call, Calls Expected from Prospects,
Palm Pilot Entry, Discuss with Manager and Expense Reimbursements.
Put a note in your calendar to remind yourself to look in Call for
the paper you need to discuss with a prospect or your supplier.
6. Create a reference filing system.
If your existing filing system isn't working, clean out your most
accessible file drawer and start over! Keep the old papers, and as
you need papers from the old system, merge them into the new filing
system. Eventually the two systems will become one, or the old
system will become old enough that you'll feel comfortable throwing
it away or at least putting it in a less accessible space. The key
to your continuing success with any filing system is a file indexa
list of the names of your files. Use it just as you would a chart
of accounts to determine which accounts to charge an expense. You
can create a file index as a word processing document or spread
sheet. Print out a copy to keep at your desk and another to keep at
the filing system itself. Another option is to use Taming the Paper Tiger
software. It creates and prints a file index, as well as file
labels, and allows you to automatically cross reference files. With
its powerful search engine capability, you can retrieve anything
you file in five seconds by using a keyword search.
Will this system turn you into a perennially "clean desk"
person? Unlikely. Messy desks are the natural outcome of a hectic
workplace. A place for everything means than when you want to clean
up your office to meet a client, or just because you're just sick
of the mess yourself, recovering is no big deal! Some quick
decision-making will clean off that desk in a matter of
Barbara Hemphill is CEO of Hemphill Productivity Institute,
located in Raleigh, N.C., and author of Simplify Your Workday
and Kiplinger's Taming the Paper Tiger books and
software. For information on speeches and consulting, call (800)
427-0237 or check out www.ProductivityConsultants.com.