It may or may not surprise you that one of my favorite skills is going into a completely chaotic file system and transforming it into an organized well-oiled machine of organization and effectiveness. It is actually a source of Zen for me.
Since it is May and we are focusing on Spring Cleaning physically, mentally, and emotionally, it is the perfect time to write a blog on how to get your Virtual office organized.
Let’s get one thing sorted before we move on, these tips apply to any virtual storage space you use. It can be Outlook, Dropbox, Google Drive, or even just your desktop. But as virtual assistants, we always encourage a cloud-based system so you will be ready to delegate when the time comes.
So here we go!
1. Create a Naming Convention.
If you have been following our blogs for a while, this is not our first time yelling this from the rooftops! So if we are preaching to the choir at this point, please just skip to the next step.
Still, if you haven’t established a naming convention, here is another friendly nudge.
What is a naming convention? It is simply how you uniformly name your files so that you can always find them.
Here at Assistants 4 Hire (A4H), we name each document with 1) The client name (this is A4H for internal documents) 2) The name of the document and 3) the Date of the Document. For instance, the name of this Google doc for this blog was named: A4H- Blog- May 2023- MerriLyn Gibbs
Still, this doesn’t have to be the way you name things. It could be: 1) Date 2) Client's last name and 3) Number system of the type of document.
It honestly doesn’t matter how you decide to name your files, just make sure that you create a uniform naming convention that all of your team follows!
2. Create Procedure Docs
By creating a procedures doc on how to file your documents, or a key for naming conventions if necessary, then it is set in stone. Team members can always refer back to the procedures doc for reference. It is really challenging for your team to follow your naming convention if they do not learn it properly. Also, it will make training and onboarding your internal team significantly easier.
3. Create Templates
Anytime you are duplicating documents, make a template for it!
Examples of Templates:
Email template documents
Letter of Agreements
Procedures docs for internal processes or clients.
Tracking sheets: Invoicing, Lead Generation, Client referral tracking, etc.
I also suggest that “Templates” be their own folder with the appropriate naming convention applied to it. I.e A4H- Email Templates- May 2023
4. Create Training Procedures and Videos
Anytime you are onboarding clients or internal staff, document the training:
Start recording the onboarding sessions and decide what can be used for onboarding new team members in your internal team or new members that come onto your client’s teams.
Create onboarding procedures. Yep, start writing things down. A good tip is after you onboard a team member, ask them to review the video and write the procedures. Then you will ensure and be able to review what they learned from the training.
5. Systematically Clean out Your Folders
Most of our systems don’t have unlimited storage, so it is important also to do regular cleaning of your files.
Monthly process: Create an Archived Folder and add any old team members or clients’ folders to the archive.
Annual process: Delete any folders that are no longer needed. For us, we keep client files 3 years after the contract. This means we only delete the folders 3 years after we have ended services. Of course, you should follow your own process. Still, it is important to clean out what you can when you can.
If you read this and thought, “Yeah, I know all this, blah, blah, blah.” Share with me any other tips you have. I would love to learn from your expertise.
If you read this and thought, “Wow those are great tips, I am going to start one or two,” then awesome, let me know how it goes!
If you thought, “I know all this and are still not implementing any of them,” it may be time to think about hiring us to do it for you. It starts with a FREE Discovery Call.
Happy Virtual Organizing! Once you do… you will find files in 20 seconds or less. PRICELESS!
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Written by MerriLyn Gibbs