January is “Get Organized” month! For many of you, it may inspire you to clean out a closet or pantry. But what about digital organization? Your electronic “stuff” needs a system just like your physical stuff.
Emails, to-do lists, household inventories are just a few areas that could benefit from better digital organization. If you are self-employed or run a small business, there are even more areas that could be simplified and better organized digitally.
There is a vast array of software and apps out there to help you with digital organization and productivity. Vast array. Vast. It can be dizzying – even for me. And I like this stuff…
Difficult or not, the time you spend now should reward you with more time and less frustration in the future. So how can you make this happen?
A good place to start is to think about your problems.
I have 15 million emails in my inbox
I have 15 million and one to-do’s and don’t know where to start
Scheduling appointments is a huge time drain
My billing and accounting are too complicated
It’s also helpful to ‘map out’ the systems that you use. List any software you already use, what the system does and if you have to transfer information from one system to another. For example:
Be clear on your problems to focus your research. What are the specific problems with my billing system? Well, I track the time spent on client work on a pad and paper. But then I have to enter the data into a spreadsheet so I can provide my client with an accounting and create an invoice. I need a program that tracks my time, creates a report and populates an invoice automatically. It would be even better if the invoice is tracked in my accounting system so I can apply payments as they come in.
Google your problems and see what software or apps pop up. As you research, ask yourself if the software solves your problem. Or 80% of your problem. I found a time keeping software that makes it easy to track my time spent on different client projects. I can use it on my phone or PC. I can easily create reports of my time for each client. It doesn’t create invoices, but the reports make it easy to enter the total time spent into my invoicing system.
Remember to check for integrations. Is there software that does everything you need in one area, like accounting? Or can this software work with an existing software that you use, like QuickBooks or MS Outlook. If you have software that you like, contact the software vendor to find other software that integrates.
And sometimes you just have to try out the software or app before you decide if it’s the right one. Thankfully many have a free version or free trial. Take advantage.
Are you dizzy yet?
If new software or technology scares you, this project is not for you. I guess I should have said that at the beginning. However, if you work through researching and implementing new technology, your reward should be less time on mundane tasks.