Admin. It’s totally unavoidable for any business. Keeping well documented and accurate records is vital for tax purposes as well as data protection and we can all face huge penalties if we fail to comply. So, here’s our Virtual Assistant top tips to revolutionise your office admin today.
One of the biggest blockers of successful administration is having too much stuff, both physically and digitally.
Being virtual, we aim to be completely paperless, and we succeed 95% of the time. Not just a bonus for our stress levels but a huge tick for us in our aim to be environmentally minded.
The thing we focus on most is our clear desk policy: there is to be nothing on our desks that we aren’t working on at that very point in time and nothing is to be printed or kept in paper form unless it is 100% necessary. Any physical post that does arrive is dealt with first thing. A copy is scanned, or snapped if using our apps, and saved to the correct folder or software. We do the same with our receipts. The hard copy is then shredded and securely disposed of. And yes, I hear some of you gasping “don’t you keep the hard copy just in case?!” No. Duplication can and is the number one cause of confusion. Plus having everything stored in one place electronically makes it easier for teams or other organisations if you outsource your accounts for example, to have access to everything they need easily. Just make sure you know that your data is securely backed up.
Purge anything that you don’t use or don’t need, including old records and documents, stationery that has probably dried up, and all those useless bits we all chuck in to the drawers thinking it’ll come in handy one day and now it just sits there gathering dust.
Finally, carry out a digital detox. Just like with the physical stuff, if you’ve not touched it in six months, or it’s so old it’s no longer relevant, get rid of it. Make sure that you have clearly labelled and organised folders and put in place a fool-proof filing system. You can even create yearly folders to archive anything that you wish to keep but don’t want in your most recent documents.
2. Introduce Apps/ tech
Utilise the technology and Apps that are available. Our favourite has to be the App linked with our bank account. How many times have you gone out for lunch with a client or popped to the post office with a recorded delivery, paid, stuffed the receipt somewhere never to see if again? No more! Snap the receipt, upload it and store in your receipts folder, or if like ours it’s linked to your account, reconcile that bank entry with the corresponding receipt right then and there.
Cut down on invoice chasing by setting automated bill reminders. We LOVE Freeagent, although we know that there are plenty of other accounts software packages out there which offer the same solution. Set up specific rules for every client, personalise the message you want to send them, the possibilities are endless but can literally eliminate a task from your to-do-list.
Create your to-do-list with Asana. Plan and structure your work as well as setting deadlines and prioritise. If you have a team you can share and assign tasks. Create projects and create tasks within those projects to keep on top of your to-do-list.
3. Get organised
From filing systems to work-flow, organisation is going to be the most important aspect of staying on top of business admin. Use colour coding to differentiate between client files and office files as well as traffic light systems for work to be done, work in progress and work completed. To-do-lists will help you focus on the tasks at hand and will allow you to see when you have completed a task which is great for motivation and feeling accomplished.
As mentioned above, Asana is a great tool to create your to-do-list but take it that one step further. Keep full control over what needs to be done, by who, by when and make sure it gets done. Using tiles, you can create projects for each and every area of your working life and create a list of actions within those so you and your team know exactly what stage you’re at as well as any deadlines that need to be met.
Set aside time each week to hit that pile of admin. Staying on top of it and doing little but often will decrease the time you actually spend on it as well as making sure that you are sticking to those processes and systems which you’ve put in place. It’s also less daunting and less overwhelming if admin really isn’t your thing.
Following each of the three steps above and creating a routine and processes around these will help to alleviate many of the time-consuming tasks associated with business admin. If you’re finding that you just don’t have the time or the want to create processes and systems or carry out the tasks yourself, maybe it’s time to consider outsourcing.