As the saying goes, "A cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind." How can prospects or clients have any faith in your ability to work on their behalf, if they see a desk overflowing with paper? Or, in this computer age, if they visit your office and watch you spend valuable time sifting through emails and folders, trying to locate pertinent information regarding their account?
To the client, a lack of organization projects a negative image. It symbolically waves a distress flag, which could cause them to run in the opposite direction. Take some basic steps to alter the appearance of an overcrowded, unorganized work environment and help fend off clutter.
If you have an assistant, delegate some of your responsibilities to free up some of your time. Remember, "No man (or woman) is an island." For your purpose, that means mail can be opened and prioritized by an administrative assistant, while you tend to other business. Some bosses even arrange for their office assistant to have access to their email inbox.
If you work alone, then you must handle every facet of your business. Schedule a consistent time each day for opening both mail delivered by the post office and email, and respond immediately whenever possible to get it off your plate. File correspondence systematically so you know exactly where to find it in the blink of an eye. Record notes on a hand-held recorder to follow up on loose ends.
Author and efficiency expert Maria Gracia offers simple organizing solutions.* She says regardless of your business stature, whether management, sales staff or administrative assistant, better organization saves time and increases productivity.
Garcia notes the importance of learning to say "no." Some people extend themselves beyond reason, then fall short and appear inadequate. But time, like office space, can become cluttered or overburdened, especially for Real Estate professionals, lenders and others who rely on networking as a means of advancing their businesses.
She also advises her readers not to feel obligated to say "yes" to everyone who asks for a favor. In other words, don't over-commit. Be selective when it comes to volunteering time and energy. You can offer to assist with a small portion of a project, but don't agree to organize the entire event. And, if you're truly in a time crunch and can't possibly help, politely, but firmly, just say "no." That will earn you greater respect as someone who can organize time and space.