Try to only touch it once. Don't open mail and then return it to the envelope. Open it and handle it or put it to the location for the next required step, i.e. payment of a bill.
Write checks for bills when they come in. This doesn't mean you have to mail it right away, just write the check, address and stamp the envelope, etc. Record the mail date in tiny print just above the postage stamp. On the back of the envelope you can write in tiny print the total of the check if you need to. Now place the ready to mail bill in a small/sturdy desktop sorter, in chronological order by mail date. You can quickly scan the bills and mail them on the mail date you recorded on the front of the envelope. If you are a fan of automatic payments, set them whenever posibble, this is a time saver when you have recurring bills especially.
Use proper organizing tools, bins, filing systems, etc. You will spend a little more cash but you will be more productive, successful and less stressed in the long run. Good systems and streamlined work-flows pay for themselves again and again if implemented correctly. Avoid buying a bunch of stuff without a clear plan. Consult with a professional organizer and ask them to help you create a plan. Even if you cannot afford to pay a professional organizer to do the work, you should be able to find a professional organizer who will, for a fee, provide a consultation, offering organizing strategies that you can then implement yourself.
Avoid writing a million sticky notes, lists and reminder notes. Create a solid plan for handling all those thoughts and ideas, reminders and To Do lists and then stick to it. For example, If you like to jot ideas, keep a filing system for them, i.e. Ideas: Marketing, Ideas: Newsletters, Ideas: Presentations... Keep it nearby so you can jot your idea and put it into the file immediately. If you have a computer, as most people do, keep the notes filed in the computer where they'll be easier to find and take up less space.
Create a file right away for something new. Use categories to keep things sorted and easy to find. (See our filing organization tips)
Do the task you enjoy the LEAST FIRST every day and everything else will seem easier and more enjoyable.
Avoid feeling like you have to answer every cell phone call, email and text message immediately. Prioritize incoming messages and calls and then set aside time during the day to handle the less urgent ones.
Keep a calendar - computerized, ipod touch, paper..., whichever you're most comfortable with.
Record your goals, short term and long term. Measure, monitor, adjust and control so that you are meeting your goals.
Delegate, delegate, delegate. You cannot do everything. The small business owner is especially susceptible to the attitude of having to be in control of everything and they get bogged down with micro-management. If you hire or work with people who are capable of making decisions and thinking for themselves and have initiative, then oversee but don't get caught up in every detail. Pay attention to your business, of course, but don't pay someone to watch you do it all. If you don't have staff with the skills necessary to work effectively, intelligently and make you more productive and help you generate more income in the long run, then maybe it's time to find new help. (You can't send a duck to eagle school.)
See our Tax Prep Tips for ways to make your business life easier at tax time.
Use an effective filing system - See our Suggestions