I don’t know about you, but time is my most precious commodity these days. Between sports, school projects, play dates, running a business and keeping up with the cleaning, I am exhausted. I decided last month that enough was enough. I put everything on hold for two hours a day so I could get my office, house and schedule back under control.
I used to be a pretty organized person. Files were labeled, cabinets were straightened and clothes were all ironed and hanging in the closet. The floor was always clean and the kitchen and bathrooms were spotless. Then I became a mother. I didn’t realize how bad I had gotten until I was visiting a friend of my moms one day. Ann was showing us her beautiful and immaculate home complete with a linen closet that had ironed sheets wrapped up in matching pillowcases and tied with a bow. I stared at that closet for about 10 minutes, dreaming about how beautiful it was and planning out how I could make my closet look beautiful too. Reality hit me in the head with a peanut butter sandwich and a sippy cup. I had three kids under the age of three and was lucky to have clean clothes and lunch for the day. Ironed sheets were a luxury I couldn’t afford. Keeping the entire house “model home beautiful” was unrealistic and laughable. I learned how to start with the most important tasks and work down the list. When I ran out of time, I stopped.
Fast forward ten years and I am just as busy, the house is just as messy and life is just as hectic. Instead of sandwiches on high chairs I have peanut butter and bread left out on the counters. Instead of diapers and dirty bibs I have sports gear and dirty socks on the floor. The difference this time was that these kids were old enough to pitch in and help a mother out.
I made a new chore system and set up a “commission” system for incentives instead of an allowance. I got the idea from Dave Ramsey. I have a list of daily things that I need done like dishes and vacuuming. I also have a “commission” list of chores that they can work on when the daily chores are done. Unlike the daily list, these chores include a bonus. The kids are paid for the extra chores they do. If they don’t clean up, they don’t get a commission. Nothing like a little cash to inspire the boys to clean up and help out. This has helped a bunch with keeping the house in order.
The office was a problem that was my own making. If I lived alone, I would have everything neatly filed and in its place. I would be able to focus on a task until it was finished and give it 120%. Reality involves my dear husband and kiddos throwing every loose paper from school and the mailbox on my desk. It really gets hairy when they add the “I don’t know what to do with this so I will just give it to mom” to the pile. I feel like a driveway after a snowstorm some days. If I ever disappear, check the pile on my desk first. I might have been buried alive.
It seems like whenever I would begin a complicated task for my business, try balancing the checkbook or any other feat of extreme concentration that I would hear the siren call of mothers everywhere, “Mom. I need your help. Are you busy?”. I would help the kiddo and then get distracted with the other kids and chores and mailman and then phone calls and you get the picture. When I finally was able to get back to my desk, I had forgotten what I was even working on. Files were all over the place, tasks were half finished and customers needed help. I was one hot mess.
I decided that it was time to bite the bullet and purchase a customer service management system for myself. If you are unfamiliar with CRM systems, you are not alone. I am a small home based business and these systems seem geared towards larger companies with tons of employees. Here is the criteria that I needed:
- EASY to use. I don’t have a lot of time to spend learning the system.
- Affordable. I don’t have $1000 a month to spend on CRM.
- Could grow with me when the business grows. I don’t want to relearn a new system in a few years.
I tried six different systems out and they all had some good and some bad points. Salesforce is powerful. Just a little too powerful for what I need. Base Camp was another good option, but didn’t keep me as organized as I needed to be. Infusionsoft was a dream system, but way out of my budget. I ended up going with Zoho CRM. It is easy, efficient, affordable and can expand. I get emails everyday with my to-do list. I can rank projects and give them levels of importance. It even takes emails and organizes them for me with my client list. How amazing is that?
How are you running your office and keeping track of your clients and schedules? What ideas have you found that work in your business and home?