Small business owners are busy. It takes some serious organization for us to have the time and energy to focus on what’s most important to the business. Here’s a checklist of things to better organize your business and improve overall effectiveness.

Automate Repetitive Tasks

Optimize your business operations by automating the boring stuff using software and streamlined procedures. For example, use invoicing software such as Wave (free) or Freshbooks to automate recurring invoices and accept online payments. Or automate office supplies orders by creating a procedure of standard supplies (printer cartridges, paper, staples, coffee filters, etc) and quantities needed so you never run out. To further automate, check out automated ordering systems like as Amazon’s Subscribe and Save.


Keeping a clean workspace can be the difference between a scattered, stressful day or a productive one. An uncluttered desk helps keep your mind focused on the most important business at hand. Throw away items you don’t use, and keep only the supplies you regularly need on your desk. Use letter trays or hanging files to avoid piles. Clear out your desk drawers and designate a purpose for each one. Clear your computer of files you no longer need to make space and make it easy to find what you need. Then bask in the glory of having a clear desk…and a clear mind.


If there’s work that you’re just not good at or don’t have time for (because there is a good chance of that happening) just hire someone (or just get a family member if you can’t pay) to help you. They may even have a better way of doing things. It’ll not only save time and stress of trying to do it all yourself, you’ll have more energy to get high-impact work done. Are there any repetitive tasks that can be done by virtual assistants or interns? Provide them with step-by-step written procedures so that they can get tasks done—without you. No repetitive training required. Ever.

Create a Schedule

Scheduling is crucial. Have a daily plan and stick to it. Whether on a computer, mobile device, or planner make sure your schedule is easily accessible. If you need to get something done, make a meeting for yourself in your calendar to work on it (preferably with a reminder). Also crucial? Protecting your time and investing it wisely. Sometimes that means saying “no” but it’s what productive people do.

“You’ve gotta keep control of your time,” Warren Buffett says, “and you can’t unless you say no. You can’t let people set your agenda in life.”

Stop multitasking

Think multitasking will help you get more done? Think again. New research shows that we humans just aren’t good at doing several things at once. More often than not, our brain is just quickly switching from one task to the other.

“Think about writing an e-mail and talking on the phone at the same time. Those things are nearly impossible to do at the same time,” Miller, a Picower professor of neuroscience at MIT, says “You cannot focus on one while doing the other. That’s because of what’s called interference between the two tasks,” Miller said. “They both involve communicating via speech or the written word, and so there’s a lot of conflict between the two of them.”

Researchers say they can actually see the brain struggling. So with the time it takes for your mind to refocus on the other task it can actually end up taking longer and the quality may suffer. To maximize effectiveness, focus on finishing a single task before moving on to the next.

Make an operations manual

One of the best ways to help your business grow is to put good processes and procedures in place. In fact, according to this video on having an operations manual is one of the top things on a growing company’s checklist. Even as a start-up, it’s wise to jot down the steps of any new recurring tasks as you complete them or have your team members draft procedures for their tasks. Keep them all in one place that’s easily accessible so you can update, view, and share them as needed. When your business starts rapidly growing, you’ll be glad you did.

Get the right tools

As technology and connectivity changes the way we live our lives, it’s also changing the way we do business. Chances are, if you need something done “there’s an app for that”. Check out this list of free mobile apps perfect for entrepreneurs. If you need a document or a worksheet, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Get it done fast by downloading and customizing an existing template or document through sites like Docstoc or Google templates.

How do you organize your business? Let us know in the comments.