Overwhelmed? How to Use Systems to Simplify Your Business

by Julie Barnes

You finally took the leap to start your business. Everything is going great, but you feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends. You're checking email, Twittering, updating your status on Facebook, answering the phone, all while finalizing your next marketing campaign. Wow! It’s astounding the amount of “to-do’s an entrepreneur can complete in one day. Sometimes it can seem that there should be 36 hours in the day instead of 24. That is where systems come in. Setting up systems for your business will simply you life and can increase your ability to get even more done in a day. Your business will run more effectively and efficiently.

Here is a list of basic system ideas:

•Policies and Procedures Manual
Even if you are a solo business owner, you will still need to write and develop a policies and procedures manual. Once you have written your manual you will also want to create a backup plan. Think about what will happen if you have an emergency that takes you away from your business. Whomever you put in charge will be able to grab the policies and procedures manual and move ahead with your business, until you’re able to return. Remember to keep your manual up-to-date as your business grows or changes.

•E-mail
E-mail can become overwhelming. With emails from clients, prospects, colleagues, newsletters, and family your e-mail box can quickly fill up. Not to mention that most of us feel the need to check e-mail whenever we see the “you got mail” notification. A good rule to follow is to check your e-mail morning, noon, and before you end the day. Some suggest checking morning and evening.

In David Allen’s book Getting Things Done he recommends the following:

*Handle any email that takes two-minutes or less immediately.
*Create two folders for any longer-than-two-minute-e-mails that you need to act on.
*Folder 1 – ACTION – This folder will hold those e-mails that you need to do something about.
*Folder 2 – WAITING FOR – This folder will hold e-mails that you are waiting to hear back on, waiting for more information, etc.
*Delete what you can, file what you want to keep, and complete any less-than-two-minute responses.

You will also need a great e-mail program to work with. Outlook is a great program and also Google mail better known as Gmail. With Gmail you can color code your e-mails, set filters and folders that will get you Über organized.

•Phone
You will want to spend some time planning your phone procedures. While some business owners choose to answer all calls, if you are a service based business that bills task on time, then stopping and answering your calls will not be conducive to your bottom line. You will need to set up specific times to check voice mail and return calls. You may also want to schedule all calls with your clients, prospects, etc.

•Planner
How will you plan your day? How many times a day will you check your email? When will you return calls? When will you market or work on client work? You will want to set up a calendar system either electronic or paper. You will learn that if you schedule your day you will get more done.

Go ahead and set up your systems today and watch that overwhelming feeling melt away as you check off those “to-do” items off your list.


Julie Barnes is a Freelance Writer focusing on her passions of entrepreneurship, women’s issues, and holistic health and wellness. Julie published “So You Want to Start a Business…Now What?” in December 2009. Julie lives and works in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, KS with her husband Ron and lovable dog Hank. You can visit her site at http://www.onewhowrites.com.
Copyright © 2010 Julie Barnes and One Who Writes

1 comment

Alex said...

Great article Julie! I really liked your tips on emailing. That is a problem for me, especially since I get it to my phone.

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