Linda Rothschild—organization expert to über-personality Heidi Klum—manages not only endless racks of designer clothes, but also every space, both residential and commercial, that the supermodel calls home.
Rothschild’s company, Cross It Off Your List, helps small businesses manage the clutter that can clog up workflow. Cross It Off Your List offers general organization, coordinates relocations, and assists with “lifestyle management.” So if your office is a mess, Rothschild can help. Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes.
“There are no shortcuts or magic wands,” Rothschild says. “Part of being organized is logically setting up spaces and being able to get your hands on something when you need it. You have to make good decisions about what you’re keeping and where you’re keeping it.”
Being organized means going through every facet of your business, from managing space and employee supervision to billing and ordering supplies. Ultimately, if you’re not organized, you risk creating problems and possibly losing clients. Rothschild believes in setting priorities.
Here, she gives up seven tips to help you organize your office space and better run your business.
1. Where Things Go. “A procedure needs to be developed. Sometimes it’s just boxing things up and sending them somewhere else, or keeping one of each thing instead of 20 of each thing. If necessary I will buy a racking system, or boxes or bins, or create ways to label things, or use a storage shelf for archiving things. The Container Store is great, but it’s not the products that get you organized; throwing things in a box won’t matter if you don’t know what is in the box.”
2. Making Space. “You need to look at everything individually and make a decision about it. ‘Is this something I really need?’ Say you have a four-shelf bookcase stuffed with books and manuals and papers. Start on the top shelf and go through each item individually and decide to keep it or not, or it may be that someone else needs it, or maybe it’s totally outdated and should be thrown away. It’s a process that you need to make part of your daily routine.”
3. Organizing Tools. “Each tool belongs somewhere that makes it easier to take it out and return it. That may mean hanging them, or putting them in drawers—it’s dependent on what the tool is as to where it’s going to be. If it’s a row of lawn mowers, it will take a different amount of space. You have to be realistic about how much space you have and how well you are using the space.”
4. Use the Up-Space. “Often people forget what we call the ‘up-space.’ Up-space could simply be higher shelves, or putting up a pegboard to hang things. That increases overall room space. Using the top part of the closet is great, that area above the pole and the shelf. It’s the least-used space, so that’s where you put things you don’t need as often.”
5. Managing Information Digitally. “Scanning papers into the computer means you don’t need to keep the hard copy—that saves room. The NeatDesk desktop receipt scanner is great, but you have to do the manual work. The papers don’t jump into the scanner by themselves. And it helps to make lists so you don’t forget things. You can make a list per client, per job, a list of questions, or meeting notes. Doing it daily is key to keeping the list updated. Evernote software can help you consolidate information, and it’s free. ABC Inventory Software, inFlow Inventory, Inventoria Stock Manager, and PoS Maid software are also very helpful.”
6. Employee Status Reports. “My employees turn in a status report every day, whether they’re in the office or out in the field. It basically captures what’s in process, what’s completed, and what’s to be done. That gives you a chronological understanding of what’s been done for a client, so if you have to justify a project, it really breaks it down.”
7. Managing Finances. “For billing and tracking time and expenses, Intuit’s QuickBooks is pretty simple. You can track your checkbook and record and categorize checks, so at a glance you know what you’ve spent.”