Updated: Sep 19, 2019
Whether you're an inbox or an in-tray type of person; strictly digital or old-school pen and paper - 'admin' can sometimes feel like a full-time job. Getting on top of your business admin will help improve your productivity, professionalism and reduce your feeling of overwhelm. It could be going paperless with your accounting, automating some of your systems or simply investing in the storage you need to file your business paperwork more efficiently - here are my top tips:
Little by little
Keeping on top of admin, rather than doing it when it reaches 'crisis' point, is definitely my top tip. Whether that's scanning your receipts as soon as you buy something, rather than stuffing them in your purse 'for later', or clearing your inbox at the end of each day so it doesn't mount up. Chip away at it and you'll avoid losing whole days to the 'admin mountain'. Also think about the admin you can automate - invoicing, email automations... streamlining your communications and processes will shave precious hours off your admin time over the course of a month.
If you run a digital business, as a coach or a consultant, the bonus is that you can work from anywhere - but without a physical office, where do you keep your ' work stuff'? Whatever your business, you will need somewhere to keep and store your business materials and admin. Having a dedicated place and system will encourage you to keep on top of things and cut down the time you spend hunting for that 'important piece of paper'.
Paperless accounting Nothing is more of an admin drain than filing tax returns, expenses and general book-keeping paperwork. Using an app like Xero, Receipt Bank or Quickbooks that will allow you to go paperless and ditch all those till receipts and loose invoices will also mean that when it comes to file your tax returns they're all there - ready to go.
A lot of business owners feel that admin is something they should be able to keep on top of themselves. It may not be 'techy' but it is time and energy-zapping. VAs, or virtual assistants can be a real asset to a business - depending on their skill-set they can managing diaries, customer service, social media, travel or book keeping. Something it may be worth considering if you're struggling to keep on top of it.
Think outside the (in)box How many minutes, or hours a day do you spend tackling your inbox? We reach for an email as a default form of communication these days - but it is truly the best method? Could you pick up the phone and in a 10-min phone meeting achieve the same as 10 back and forward emails?
Do you often find yourself delving through past emails, trying to track a project or thread of a conversation? If so, you may find online project and comms apps such as Trello and Slack useful for your team. You can track the status of your to-do list, allocate responsibilities and run different threads for each project, all in one place. Whilst we're on the subject of emails, make sure you use your email provider's full capabilities - flag urgent messages, auto-direct regular emails to the relevant folder and keep on top of any unneccessary email subscriptions to limit the time you spend 'paper shuffling' in your inbox.
Finally, ensure all your business admin is backed up in cloud storage or on a remote hard drive, your software and apps are updated and you have paper copies of any essential paperwork. Setting aside time to do this each month will give you peace of mind that your admin is safe.