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Do Labels Let you Down? - 3rd November 2015
Even in a small home-based business, organisation is key to success.
Labels are key to organisation. Let me explain!
The act of labelling things might seem rather trivial compared to more pressing business tasks. Clients I've worked for have tended either not to label things, or to engage in what I would call inappropriate labelling. I don't mean the labels themselves, I'm referring to the words they put on the label.
This applies equally to paper or digital records. If you think about it, giving names to files and folders on your computer is the digital equivalent of labelling that information with a pen and a sticky label!
Why bother with labels? What is their purpose?
The whole point of a label is to make it easy for you to find what you want - when you want it.
Poor labelling can cause confusion and result in information being mislaid.
Labelling is the first step towards having a logical and functional filing system.
Imagine an office or workplace where nothing had been labelled. How would you find the invoices, staff records, information relating to company vehicles, premises, insurance, suppliers, etc. Every available hour would be spent searching for the required information. The only 'known' would be that whatever was needed "Is in the office somewhere!" or "it's on the computer, somewhere!"
Needless to say, a business like that would be inefficient to say the least.
Labels are a logical tool - not a shot in the dark
Most business owners understand that labelling content is a good idea. Sometimes though they get really stuck for what to write on the label. If they have this mental block about what to write it can go either way. One alternative is that they write a description that is so general that it is next to useless. Such as, 'Work in progress' 'Urgent', 'Pending' or 'Keep for reference'.
Be honest, what would you expect to find in such files, folders or drawers? You would be forgiven for saying that you would have no idea whatsoever! On occasions when I've found this kind of label my client also has no idea of the content. He or she has to resort to trying to remember what it is and that makes the label superfluous, really.
Other people almost go to the opposite extreme. They become verbose and create the kind of label that would win prizes for literature. In honesty though, they are too detailed and too wordy. In this situation a new file has to be created for every sheet of paper - because no two items are exactly the same.
A game of common denominators
In order to become an effective labeller, you need to understand the various categories of information you are likely to need for your business. Within each category there will be sub-categories and more than likely yet another layer beyond that.
Imagine that you've decided to dedicate one shelf in your office to 'Financial' content. If you wanted to label the shelf you could label it 'Finance'. At a very simplistic level you could then have a folder each for invoices you need to pay, invoices you've sent to your customers and your bank statements. Can you see how much easier life becomes if each of those folders is labelled accordingly? You might add other files for insurance, accountant, HMRC or whatever you like. The same applies to folders on your computer.
Reap the rewards
If you apply this to all your stored content it will take a bit of working out but it's well worth the time. If you label everthing clearly and with logic then it helps you save precious time in the long run. If you have to supply documents to others such as your accountant or bank that can all be done with more efficiency and professionalism. Equally, when there is a query from a customer or supplier you are able to find the relevant information with ease. No stress.
Are you a big picture person?
The chances are that you are. Especially if you are creative and/or specialise in sales. If so, then this exercise might be a challenge for you. It won't surprise you to know that I'm a detail person - I love sorting out business content for clients and making sure that labelling and file structure works with their logic.
Give me a call to find out how I can help you, 07850 580802 or email me if you prefer.
Keywords: organise, documents, self-employed, office