Small business owners are multi-tasking ninjas. On a daily basis we juggle no end of disparate tasks, from packaging orders to dealing with invoices, from planning new products to sourcing and ordering supplies, from marketing to website administration..... the list is endless.
However, all of these tasks are made immeasurably easier if you're not spending large chunks of time looking for stuff. Especially stuff you had just a few minutes ago.
If I had a pound for every hour I've spent searching for stuff, I'd be relaxing by the side of an azure sea right now, somewhere in the Caribbean, sipping a glass of something chilled, without a care in the world.
However, in the absence of a 'lost stuff fairy' I have to accept that I have nobody to blame but myself. Most of the time I muddle through, acutely aware of the time I'm squandering, but powerless to take the steps necessary to sort it all out.
My organisation in the workroom isn't toooooo bad. I have a rough idea of where everything is and can normally nail down the location of stuff to within a specific cupboard or shelf area. Frustratingly, this works particularly well with stuff I haven't used for ages but tends to fall down with stuff I had in my hand just 10 minutes ago.
Why this should be I have no idea.
I expect it's something to do with the space-time continuum. I firmly believe that my workroom is riddled with teeny weeny little black holes. Stuff gets sucked into them in one place, then spewed out again in a completely different place. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it, until there is definitive proof to the contrary.
But at least in the workroom the stuff I'm looking for has a real, physical presence. Granted most of it is small but it does actually exist. The same cannot be said for stuff in my laptop, which exists in an airy-fairy virtual way... a bit like a miasma.
Over the past almost 20 years, since buying my very first laptop, I've transferred work files and photos from one machine to the next, gradually integrating them into the new laptop. With each successive machine I start off with what I hope will be an efficient, intuitive filing system but within a short time it defaults to my normal modus operandi of chucking everything into one catch-all folder, fully intending to sort it out 'later'
This has resulted in a maze of files and folders, many of them redundant and long out of date. From time to time I have a major clearout for as long as my enthusiasm lasts, which, to be scrupulously honest, usually isn't very long, as there's nothing like re-organising a filing system for sapping your will to live.
On occasions, I fantasise about setting up a brand spanking new filing system, one which will enable me to find the exact file I'm looking for without having to trawl through dozens of folders with almost identical names/contents. Predictably, that never happens.
I spent about an hour earlier, looking for a folder which I know is somewhere in there. I did all the usual searches but it wouldn't show up. I can only assume the completely memorable name I devised isn't as memorable as I hoped. Or I've made a spelling mistake. Or, horror of horrors, I've somehow deleted it.
I still haven't found it by the way.
So what better way to spend a cold, wet mid-February Saturday afternoon than taking a good run at re-organising my filing system?
I've spent several hours at it and have managed to partially re-organise ONE FOLDER.
At this rate I'll be finished sometime in 2025. If only I'd stopped to think, way back in the late 1990s, with my virgin first laptop. If I'd just taken a few hours to plan a workable system, instead of just setting up random folders on a completely ad hoc basis.
But I didn't.
Buggrit. Buggrit. BUGGRIT!
The task is now Sisyphean. Which gives me some comfort as I know it's impossible before I even begin, so abject failure is to be expected. However, I still feel as though I should take a punt at it. I've even gone so far as to download this handy planner, which I've filed on my desktop under 'Filing. Do It.'
It promises to help me completely re-organise my computer files in three weeks.
I've already fallen at the first hurdle..... Day 1 - Create an easy to use system to organise your computer's folders. There are handy tips for doing this....'choose an organisation system that works for you', and 'stick to this method in the future as you add more files and folders'.