Hey, “Elephants” like to hang out on campus, too! (Organizing tips for Student Entrepreneurs)

Yes, apparently, “elephants” don’t discriminate!  No matter what shape, form or fashion in the corporate or business world, you can become a casualty of the “clutter giant”.  Even YOU, student entrepreneurs! Getting organized is the only “elephant repellent”… that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  So these are just a few simple organizing tips to help you balance life as a ‘trep and as a college student.

  • Purge books that you no longer need.  There are a number of ways that your books can contribute to a lot of good.  Whether it’s helping other students to save money by selling your books to a buyback program or local sites like Craigslist, or donating to local libraries or thrift stores, or holding a book swap party at your place.  Who doesn’t like a party?!. throw some much-needed textbooks in the mix and you’re the campus rock star.)
  • Plan ahead… create a schedule and stick to it.  Take care of things while you have the time.  As a matter of fact, take care of things ahead of time instead of putting them off.  It can absolutely create a stress-filled domino effect to the rest of your day and possibly the week.  Think about it… would you rather be the one who’s, literally, handling your business more focused, confident, and excited about the day ahead?  Or would you rather be the one who’s always on edge, playing catch-up all week between servicing customers and chasing the clock between classes?  Also, if you have a business that you operate on a seasonal basis, like during winter or summer breaks, use the time when you’re not operating your business to prepare for business for the next season. Save money, focus on marketing to acquire new customers/clients, make any modifications to your schedule to reflect changes for that upcoming season, etc.  Having a schedule helps you to develop discipline and the motivation to obtain your goals, both in business and while in school.
  • Maintain control of the “elephant” sitting on your desk… paper clutter.  This is bigger than a paper trail, people… it’s a peanut trail!  Let’s just be honest… you will always have some sort of paperwork waiting for you on your desk whether it’s for business or school.  So I want to be as realistic as possible when it comes to this issue.  The problem is not having a lot of paper, it’s how you are managing it.  The key is control.  Create a paper system.  Start by determining what documents you TRULY DO NEED, seriously…because those three-year-old business lunch receipts and even older class registration forms are not getting it.  As you go through your paperwork, break out your label maker and sort them by general category, like ‘Business’ or ‘School’.  Then create sub-categories within each of your general categories.  Like for ‘Business’, you may want to create sub-categories such as ‘Receipts’, or ‘Business Forms’, etc.  For ‘School’, you might consider a ‘Financial’ sub-category or create sub-categories by classes – hey, it’s a great temporary option for that never-ending syllabus collection every semester.  It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as it’s relevant and convenient for you… unless, of course, you are a part of a team of people (like employees or business partners) then, yes, you have to be a little more considerate.  Check out a previous post I did on this very scenario on sharing a space.  Include your team in the decisions regarding your newly organized paper system.  Once, you’ve given every sheet or document a category home, guess what?  You’re done!  Then all there’s left to do is to file them away and be disciplined in taking ten little minutes, each day, to putting things back where they belong after you’re done with them.  In other words, don’t wake up the next morning to an “elephant massacre” all over your work area.  It is NOT pretty, as I’m sure you already know.
  • Got off-site storage?  Treat it as if you live there.  If you are a student entrepreneur who acquires a business inventory and you’re short on storage because you live in on-campus housing or you share an apartment, then this tip is for you.  However, be sure to keep your storage unit very organized, especially in cases where you store business inventory and personal items together.  Create sections based on what you have and purchase sturdy, damage-free products to store your items in.  You want to protect your business investment and your personal items.  Label everything!  Organize this space as if you were living in it.  You need to be able to find what you need when you need it; so make it as simple as “go in, grab it, and get out.”  No more shuffling through a bunch of “stuff”.  Who needs that?!

Owning a business entails having control and that includes having control over your living, work, and storage spaces.  Otherwise, you just end up with a big, fat problem on your hands.

That “elephant”… I tell you…

– Sy

Home-based Moving/Relocation series (Pt.5): To Shred or not to Shred…THAT is the question! (Paper Clutter)

To finally cap off this series of tips on moving/relocation, I’ve decided to touch on a common problem we all have… paper clutter.  I know what you’re saying… “Yeah, I know I need to do something about all of this paper but how do I know if I get rid of it that one day I may need it for something… how do I know what I’m supposed to get rid of?”  Well let’s put an end to that right nowSmile.  Here’s a list of the most common things that not only you should part from (worry-free) but they should be shredded in order to prevent clutter and incidences of identity theft – a major issue that we face today when it comes to our private information.

Papers to Shred

  • Any documents containing you, your family, or business information such as social security numbers, names, birth dates, etc.
  • Pins/password information
  • Purchase receipts/invoices, especially those with credit/banking information on them (unless required for tax purposes then consult your accountant/attorney first)
  • Credit cards or bank cards that are expired or no longer in use (yes, even if the account is closed, shred it!)
  • Credit/bank account statements or any financial records no longer needed (such as loan/credit applications)
  • Tax documents that are seven years or older (consult your accountant/attorney… you may be able to dispose of them a little sooner.)
  • Old business documents no longer needed
  • Old customer/client forms that are no longer needed (you want to go the extra mile to protect them as well)
  • ATM receipts no longer needed (unless required for tax purposes then consult your accountant/attorney first)
  • Checks that are voided or no longer in use (again, even if the account is closed, shred it!)
  • Personal/business bills that are already paid or no longer needed (including medical bills)
  • Insurance documents no longer needed
  • Personal/business legal documentation no longer needed
  • Expired identification (such as an old state i.d., driver’s license, employee i.d., passport, etc.)

Once you’ve freed yourself of these things then you’ll find that there’s a lot less to fuss over on a daily basis.  Then take a little time out of your schedule to swap out any new documents like bills or business-related forms that come in so that you don’t have to be overwhelmed with a pile or more all over again.  Keep those desk trays as light as possible.  Once you see a pile begin to form, that is your cue to jump in and determine if you need to keep those papers and if you do put them where they belong.  Those trays are TEMPORARY storage, guys.

Well I hope this series was helpful to you all.  Remember, feel free to comment below and share these tips so that we can empower other entrepreneurs to get organized and stay organized.

– Sy