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Guest post by SmartPA providers of virtual assistants and admin support
If you aren't aware of it already, which we really hope you are, organisation is key when it comes to any form of work. If your job requires you to use IT in any way, shape, or form, the amount of organisation you need is much greater than if you didn't use IT. If you rely entirely on external clients for your work, the amount of organisation increased again.
For example, a retail job requires a lot of skills already (time keeping, prioritising, motivation), but wouldn't require you to keep your emails in check. If you worked with computers, but not with clients, you would have to worry about keeping emails in check, but not about keeping a client's phone number safe. If you're lucky enough to work with computers AND with clients, you have a huge amount of responsibility, which requires a huge amount of organisation.
Keep tabs on your clients
A major part of being a successful IT contractor is keeping in touch with your clients. It's no good winning work only to lose your client's email halfway through it.
Keeping your client's information safe and organised is much more important than keeping, say, your desk organised. You can tidy up a desk in five minutes, but failing to treat a client's personal info with respect and care can lead to lost work, a bad reputation, and even a lack of work for you to do.
There are several simple ways to ensure that your client's info is stored safely.
Create a client contact sheet. Make a spreadsheet or table of sorts, which includes your client's name, contact number, email, address, or any other information you may need. It may not be as easy to update as an Excel spreadsheet, but it's likely you won't be losing it any time soon. Even better, implement a smaller version of this contact sheet into your diary, in case you need a client's details on the go.
Spreadsheets are a lifesaver. If you're a dab hand with Microsoft Excel, use it to your advantage (many find this software difficult to use, and we can't say we blame them). It takes a lot less time to use than writing everything out by hand, and can easily be updated (writing out a client's contact details only to have them change a few months on is going to lead to a lot of scribbling out).
To decrease the likelihood of you losing a client's info even further, why not do both? It won't do you any harm, and could save you money, time, and stress.
Be efficient with your emails
If your job entails receiving and writing emails very frequently, your inbox can be from being neat and tidy to having hundreds of unread emails in the blink of an eye.
If this is the case for you, there's no better time than now to deal with it all; as aforementioned, the number of unread emails can rise scarily fast. Leaving them for too long, as well as being massively confusing and off-putting, may mean that important emails are lost amongst a sea of takeaway offers and petitions.
The majority of most people's unread emails consists of subscriptions or newsletters, or offers from various shops. If these are becoming a problem for you, open the email, and find the 'unsubscribe button'.
Next, aim to delete any emails sent before a certain date, ensuring that you don't delete anything important, of course. If you've not rid yourself of emails for a while, you may find that you have emails from months (and even years) ago that are no longer of any concern.
After all of that, you should (hopefully) be left with a fairly bare inbox.
There are also a number of apps and websites available that make cleaning out your inbox seem like a game of sorts, if you feel like that would work better for you.
It's all well and good having a clean-up, but it defeats the point entirely if you let it build up again within a week.
Aim to set aside 15 minutes or so each day, perhaps at the start, where you delete any unwanted or dealt with emails, reply to anything needed, and generally organised yourself. This way, you won't have to spend the day darting back and forth from your email, unless your job involves receiving emails on the regular. If this is the case, what better reason to start being more email savvy?
The oldest organisation tips are often the best
If in doubt- keep a diary. It can be a lot more fulfilling to use than keeping tech-based tabs on everything. Buy a multi-functional one, and you may have the opportunity to plan a timetable or schedule of your week, write a to-do list, keep clients' contact info safe, and have a space for general notes and doodles.
As well, ensure that any receipts, proof of payment, or any other important documents are stored safely, regardless of if they're physical or online. It may seem like a pain, but you'll wish you had when a client insists they've paid for something when they haven't.
Even with all of the tips and advice in the world, no one's perfect. It could be that you're extremely busy, struggling to balance work and a social life, or that you simply feel a bit overwhelmed as of late.
If you're still struggling to keep yourself organised, you may perhaps benefit from a virtual assistant, or another form of admin support.
Outsourced virtual assistant services such as Smart PA, can be of massive help to you with a number of tasks including bookkeeping, managing email, and even online research. Never be ashamed of seeking administrative support of any kind- even the most experienced of businesspeople and workers will struggle occasionally.
So, if you're feeling like you could use a hand, you're a quick Google search away from perhaps finding the admin assistance that changes your business for the better.