Organize + Energize: Starting a Business? It’s Time to Get Organized!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


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Starting a business can be an exciting, crazy, and stressful time. If you are disorganized, you will create more work for yourself and you aren’t going to work at your potential.  In order to maintain organization in your office or home office, you need to have systems in place for processing day to day functions. Without systems, you will become overwhelmed and stressed. With working systems, you will become efficient and productive along with many other benefits that come with being organized.  Have a system to: 

Process your mail. Many people have difficulty with paper management. Most have difficulty setting up and following through with a system.  I can’t stress this enough: Process your mail every day.  As soon as you touch it, either file it, attach to your to- do list to take care of during the week, shred it or handle it right away. It will be easier to take 5 minutes and tackle it when it arrives than to spend maybe hours on it at the end of the month.

Process your email.  Create categorized folders. Have a process to handle an email as soon as you open it. Treat it just as you would treat your physical mail. Decide whether to send it to a folder, trash it, act on it, or print it and attach it to your to-do list. Remember, sometimes it’s easier to pick up the phone and discuss than to send numerous emails back and forth. 

Work with a to-do list. Keep a running to-do list. Whether you keep a to-do list on paper or in your electronics, just do it. Make a to-do list every night before you leave work. You will know exactly what you need to do when you arrive to work the next day. This process will keep you on track with your day. You have a lot to worry about when you are starting a business, clear the mental clutter by getting things out of your head and onto paper. The less clutter you are carrying around in your mind, the better. 

Filing systems.  Create a filing system during the beginning phases of your business. Without filings systems, piles will form, chaos will ensue and you are going to start your business behind the eight ball.  If you need to locate an important paper, you should be able to locate it in less than 10 seconds. Keep files that you utilize on a daily basis close to you. Files that you use less frequently, you can keep in another area of the office. I’ve seen many important business deals that fell through, found significant sums of money and very important documents in piles of papers on desks because business owners didn’t have filing systems in place. 

Keep track of your bills. When a bill arrives on your desk or through email, be sure to have a process in place to pay these bills. If you are receiving bills through the mail, create a system where the bills aren’t lying around on your desk buried under papers. You’ll forget to pay them or pay them late. Incorporate into your calendar to remind you to pay and file immediately after you pay them. 

Business cards. When you start your new business, you are going to meet many new people. You must develop a system to file your business cards. Whether it is through electronics or good old rolodex, or a binder with clear card inserts, you must have a system. Work with it for a little while and tweak it after a few months.  

Handle phone calls and voice mail.  Set aside time to retrieve and return calls. Keep a message pad for your messages. Utilizing a book will allow you to refer back to important dates, conversations and phone numbers. Try not to keep sticky notes or loose message papers on your desk. Utilize your calendar to remind you to follow-up with clients in a timely manner. Clients will have more confidence in you if you are organized.  

Workspace.  Have a place for everything at your desk. Only keep items you use on a daily basis on your desk.  At the end of the day, your desk should be clear. Have an organized pile that you need to work on the next day with your to-do list on top of the pile. Try to avoid having a corkboard at your desk with too much information pinned to it. Less is more. Keep it contained to a binder or stored on your computer. Utilize drawer organizers and organizing supplies to keep you organized. 

Systems have to work for you. Just because your fellow business owners have a smooth system that works for them, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Evaluate how you function and create a system that works for you. The more complicated the system, the more likely it is to failure. Keep the system simple and streamlined. Many offices I work with have made attempts at getting organized, but the systems have failed and a new attempt at another system was never made. Once you create a system, re-visit the system in a couple of months and tweak what isn’t working to make it work better for you. 

Time management. Be as efficient and productive as you can be. If you are a disorganized person, you have to get organized in order to have great time management skills. Take a look at your physical space, get organized and then you’ll realize that your time management skills may fall into place, allowing you to be more efficient and productive. 

Being organized will allow you to save money, have more free time, and be more efficient and productive. You’ll have less stress and more energy and your clients will have more confidence in you when you are organized.

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Kristin Carcieri-MacRae, the founder and owner of Organizing in RI, has always enjoyed finding creative ways to streamline the environment around her. She has appeared on air on Patricia Raskin's Positive Business Radio and her articles have been published in the Rhode Island Small Business Journal and New England Home Life. Kristin's CD, Organizing Basics, is a 1-hour guide for the person who wants to get organized but doesn't know where to start. She is also available for organizing workshops. Tune into her weekly radio show, Organize, Energize! on


Related Slideshow: 5 Organizing Blunders

Avoid these mistakes and your project will take less time than you expected. You won’t be as stressed or as overwhelmed as you anticipated. You will be amazed at what you have accomplished. You will be motivated and energized to tackle another project.

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Not planning ahead

Getting organized is a process and you have to have a plan on how to conquer your project. You can’t tear apart an entire room all at once. You need to break the project down into small pieces. Plan to tackle your project in 3-hour increments. If you work longer than 3 hours at a time, you are setting yourself up for burnout. Plan ahead to try to avoid distractions and stay focused.

Click here for more tips on how to avoid distractions.

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Purchasing the incorrect supplies

I know you are excited to get organized, but don’t rush out to the store and purchase products just because you like the way they look. Get organized first. Figure out what you need to contain, and then purchase your container to match the items you need it to hold." target="_blank">Click here for more on choosing the right container.

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Not letting others know about your system

Once you set up the organized system, you have to get everybody in your home on board. Show them the systems and how you are going to function with this system going forward. Label everything if you must, so everybody gets in the habit of putting items away. Remember, the simpler the system, the easier it’s going to be to maintain." target="_blank">Need help creating those systems? Go here.

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Not maximizing your space

Use every inch of space and use it well. Take everything out of the area you are organizing. You can’t get a clear visual of the space if it is filled with clutter. Shifting items around is not going to work.

Here are more tips on maximizing your space.

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Repeatedly clearing spaces

You are creating more work for yourself if you continue to clear spaces once a month. Create a system and allow everything in your home to have its own place, and you will never have to clear a space again.

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Kristin Carcieri-MacRae

Kristin Carcieri-MacRae, the founder and owner of Organizing in RI, has always enjoyed finding creative ways to streamline the environment around her. She has appeared on air on Patricia Raskin's Positive Business Radio and her articles have been published in the Rhode Island Small Business Journal and New England Home Life. Kristin's CD, Organizing Basics, is a 1-hour guide for the person who wants to get organized but doesn't know where to start. She is also available for organizing workshops. Tune into her weekly radio show, Organize, Energize! on Mondays at 8:30am on


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