get organized
Is your assistant in the dog house?

This year, when everyone else is indulging in an embarrassing amount of sugar and gifted electronics, you will be taking advantage of the holiday ghost town in order to get organized! When your clients, partners and customers have unplugged to enjoy some offline holiday fun, you can take advantage of silent night after silent night by taking a good, hard look at your small business’s systems.

Step One – Don’t panic!

Yes, your inbox isn’t as bombarded as usual. No, there aren’t any phone calls to return. Yes, the number of emails opened and the number of orders placed is clearly lower than it normally is.  But don’t panic! Everyone checks out during the holidays, giving you some much needed down time to take stock of the way your run your business, and to finally – finally! – play catch up. So relax. No one else is making any money right now either.

Step Two – De-clutter your desktop

Set aside a few hours (maybe more if things have gotten way out of control) to de-clutter your desktop, and get organized when it comes to your personal computer. Sure, you have folders assigned for specific accounts, and you know where everything is. But in the busy months leading up to the holidays, did everything belonging to Client A actually make it into Client A’s folder?

Take a good, hard look at your desktop. If it looks more like a crater-faced teenager than an inviting computer screen, it’s time to do some damage control. Crank some tunes, grab some hot chocolate, and make sure all of those icons find their proper home.

Step Three – Unsubscribe from email lists

If it’s been more than six months since you’ve opened an email from the folks at, say, Groupon or Expedia, it might be time to unsubscribe. The holidays are a great time to organize your inbox, since you won’t be inundated with new emails as you’re attempting to purge the old.

While you’re at it, delete your old emails! Every single message should be:

1. Answered and/or…

2. Labeled and archived or…

3. Deleted!

Fight the urge to ask “But what if I need it?” Unless it’s related to money or something legal, chuck it. At the very least, archive it to make room for all of the fantastic, lucrative emails that are waiting to appear in a clean shiny inbox with lots of room.

Step Four – Gather the troops

A great way to get organized during your holiday downtime is to combine the various accounting, administrative, and organizational forces that have been working for you throughout the year. From your Shoeboxed account to your FreshBooks account to your PayPal account, the holidays are a great time to start taking stock of year end numbers. Make sure all invoices are marked as paid (and if they haven’t been paid, starting hunting those naughty clients down!).

Begin gathering totals, crunching numbers and preparing tax treasures for your accountant. If you do it now, you’ll be free to enjoy a fresh start in 2013, and your accountant will love you for not giving her a frantically scribbled spreadsheet come April.

Step Five – Get critical

The end of the year is a great time to evaluate what’s working in your company, what needs to change, and what (or who) may need to go.

Do you absolutely love your invoicing application? What about your CRM software? Come to think of it, what about your assistant?

Get honest with yourself as you weigh the pros and cons of the various components that help your business run. It may be difficult to let go of a program (or person) that you’ve been with for a while, but if you’re anything less than stoked, there’s just no reason to be spending your hard earned money on mediocre products and services.

If you only had time to do one thing to get organized during the holidays, what would it be?

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