Category: Taming the Paper Tiger



As women, we each wear quite a number of hats—mother, wife, caregiver to name a few.  More and more, women are adding the role of business owner, more specifically, entrepreneur, to their lives.  Over 10 million businesses are owned by women; 1.9 million of them are owned by women of color.  Never before have so many women been calling the shots.

Clearly, women mean business, but to really mean business you have to handle your business.  Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • You waste time looking for things because your paperwork isn’t organized
  • Your tax returns aren’t filed on time because you can’t find all of your receipts
  • You incur late fees due to bills not being paid on time
  • You miss connecting or following up with prospective and current clients
  • At times you feel overwhelmed
  • You’re working plenty of hours but nothing’s getting done

Unfortunately, these things happen quite often and are a way of life for a lot of women in business.  Because you wear multiple hats and because life moves at the speed of sound, you have to create systems that support you in running your business.

First things first, tame that paper tiger!  Set up a solid filing system so that every piece of paper has a home.  Your paper filing system should have three categories: reference, action and archive.  Determine which files fit each category and set up your system accordingly.  If your paper has a home, you’ll spend a lot less time looking for it and more time getting things done.  Chances are that if your paper files aren’t orderly, your computer files aren’t either.  Your electronic filing system should look just like your paper system.

You can’t successfully run a business if you don’t have a good accounting system in place.  For accurate and easily accessible records and having everything in one place, choose one of the user friendly accounting software packages on the market.  Set up files for your receipts, client invoices, bills, etc and a process for entering things into your software so that everything gets recorded.  Use the benefits that the software has to offer to the fullest extent.

To keep track of your prospective and existing clients, use a contact management system that will allow you to not only enter an individual’s contact information, but one that will allow you to make note of where you met them and what product or service they might be interested in.  You also want to be able to track the times that you’ve spoken with them or attempted to contact them and have a way to set reminders for future follow up.

Finally, you have to manage yourself in a way that has you on top of everything and getting things done.  If you don’t currently have a time management tool that is working well for you, it’s time to assess why it’s not working and determine what would be more appropriate for you. Once you have it, learn how to use every feature and use it to its fullest capacity and set up other components as a part of your time management system.

Put these things into place and use them regularly, and you can be rid of the aforementioned scenarios and have control of every aspect of your business.  Even when you’re wearing multiple hats, with these things in place you will be large and in charge, calling all the shots; able to handle your business.

 


Paper is a big problem in office and home environments and it can be hard to control and to contain.  If you’re going to run a successful business you’ve got to have a handle the paper, so first things first, tame that paper tiger!

Paper is the #1 culprit when it comes to a disorganized office and it’s the first things that you need to get under control.  You might have piles instead of files, so to begin, go through each piece of paper and determine what it is, and whether or not you need to keep it.  Toss the things that you don’t need so that all that’s left is what you need to keep.

Next, set up a solid filing system so that every piece of paper has a home.  Your paper filing system should have three categories: reference, action and archive.  Determine which files fit each category and set up your system accordingly.  If your paper has a home, you’ll spend a lot less time looking for it and more time getting things done.

Chances are that if your paper files aren’t orderly, your computer files aren’t either.  Your electronic filing system should look just like your paper system.  start to organize your electronic files in the same way.  Determine what you need to keep, delete the things that you don’t and organize the rest.  One other key thing to do is to name your documents so that you know what they are just by looking at the name instead of having to open them to see what they are.

Set regular times to purge and archive your paper and computer files so that your cabinets and your hard drive don’t get cluttered.  Usually once a year works very well.  Don’t forget to purge your archives as well.  Purging and archiving are part of your filing system, so don’t neglect to do it!


Now for the final “D”, Do it now.  When you make the choice to do something, you have to be particular about what you choose, after all, this is your time we’re talking about and once it’s spent, you can’t get it back.

Do It Now-For anything that you don’t discard or delegate falls under the category of “do it now”.  These are the things you want to put onto your to-do list and into your calendar to get done.  Prioritize the things that you have to do and be sure to schedule enough time for each of the things you take on and don’t over book yourself.

The keys to getting things done lie in the systems you create and the habits you have.  The three Ds have to be part of that to keep you organized, effectively managing your time, and keeping things from piling up and cluttering your workspace.  If you don’t already have systems in place to support what you do, it’s important to set them up now.  Doing so and then incorporating the 3 Ds will help you get from to-do to done!


To manage all that there is to do, in addition to discarding, the second “D” to choose from is “Delegate”.  Remember that this applies to the items on your to-do list, snail mail, email and phone calls.

Delegate It-If you don’t have to be the one to do it, give it to someone else.  You might think that in the time it takes for you to explain something to someone you could do the task yourself.  The truth of the matter is that if you take the time to set that foundation, you really do save yourself time in the long run.  If there are things that can be delegated, determine who the right person is; give them clear instruction on what needs to be done and a due date for what you’ve assigned.  Make sure the instruction and due date are clear.  If what you’re handing over is crucial or might take a longer period of time to complete, set dates for status updates so that you know where things stand on a regular basis.


With today’s fast moving pace and people continually doing more and more, there is always more than enough to do.  Every day we’re bombarded with email, snail mail, to-do lists and the number one culprit, paper.  The only way to manage it all is with effective systems, processes and habits that support you.  With the many things you have on your plate it’s necessary to have those things in place to make your day a productive one.  To make that happen you have to make choices about what to do with everything that comes across your desk every day.  You have to choose from the three Ds: discard, delegate, or do it now.  These next few posts will cover the three Ds.

Considering the amount of paper you encounter every day, making a choice is important.  It would be nice to only handle each piece of paper once, but it’s just not possible, which also makes it that much more important to choose one of the three Ds.  You might only think about being able to only make those choices with paper, but the same can be done with items on your to-do list, snail mail, email and phone calls.  The first time you touch a piece of paper, read an email or a piece of snail mail, or have a request that comes via phone or voice mail, choose to act by discarding, delegating or doing it now.

Discard It-if you don’t need it any longer or you can get it again (from a book, the internet, etc.), get rid of it.  Shred it or recycle it.  Throwing away something that you don’t need is one of the best things you can do.  It’s a small step, but it keeps the clutter away.

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