They’re collecting my green bin today

Today is our green bin collection day and it got me thinking about the simple things we can do to make our offices/business a little bit ‘greener’.  I'm not a big eco-warrior but I do like to do a bit of recycling and to be 'green' when I can, so here are 5 easy things you can do help the environment (which often also helps your wallet too!):

#1 Get a green waste bin and put it next to your desk

This will remind you to separate your recyclable waste from your general waste and makes it easy to do.

#2 Customise the power setting on your laptop/computer

Make sure your laptop/computer is set to power-down (to sleep/hibernate mode) if it hasn’t been used for a period of 15 minutes. This way, if you forget to turn if off when you go to a meeting or you get called off suddenly, you’re not using unnecessary electricity.

#3 Switch off your phone/tablet re-charger when not in use

Rechargers continue to draw energy even when the device is fully charged so make sure you switch them off when they have finished recharging. It’s better for the battery life of the device as well.

#4 Swap meetings for Skype calls where possible

Skype to Skype is free and allows voice calls, video calls and screen share, so it is often possible to have meetings from your desk rather than having to travel to them in another location. This not only saves on travel time and costs but helps reduce your carbon foot-print.

#5 Buy green

When purchasing for your office choose recycled products or items from sustainable sources. Also consider switching to a green energy supplier if you are in charge of buying your utilities.

Have you got any simple things you regularly do in your business that are green?  If you want more ideas for green office practices, have a look at Green Office Week online.

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My secret weapons

Whilst I wouldn’t proclaim to be fully certified geek, I’m afraid that I do get excited when I find out about a new (to me) piece of software that is going to help me run my business more efficiently or make my life easier (I’m all for an easy life … well I can always live in hope!).  I now have 3 pieces of software that are really key to my business and I thought I’d share them with you this week in case any of them can help you.

#1 – www.AllClients.com

AllClients is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management tool) and it helps me to a capture and nurture leads, manage my sales process and manage my contacts.  Some of the key features that I use are:

·         Landing pages to capture prospects details

·         Autoresponders to send out automated emails (this is not one of those!)

·         Flags to categorise my contacts so I can inform them about the right things that are of interest to them

·         Deals allow me to track and a manage sales opportunities

·         To Do plans lets me automate my processes

·         Email templates ensures that the same wording is used every time that email is sent.

#2 – www.TeamworkPM.net

My memory is like a sieve and I was using very low-tech bits of paper to help me keep on top of who was doing what work.  Someone then told me about TeamworkPM which is a team/project management software.  I have only been using this for a couple of weeks but these are some of the things I’m loving about it:

·         Multiple projects can be set up per customer

·         Tasks can be assigned to other users with deadlines, estimated completion times and notes/files attached

·         Timer records time spent on specific tasks

·         Easy for me to see what tasks are due and who should be doing them – I love that screen, I suddenly felt in control when I could see it all in front of me!

·         Create invoices and export into Xero (see next piece of software)

#3 www.xero.com

I have been using Xero for some time to manage my accounts.  This software is designed for business owners who are not accountants but it also gives you the reports that your accountant wants you to have.  Here’s what I love about it:

·         Access can be given to your bookkeeper and your accountant so you are all working on real-time data

·         Bankfeed brings your bank statement into the software and allows you to reconcile your bank account in minutes

·         VAT return takes minutes and it even sends your report through to HMRC (unfortunately you do still have to go online and make the payment!)

·         Email templates stored in the software to send with invoices, statements, etc

·         Repeating invoices can be set to send automatically each week/month

 

These are 3 of my favourites, but as I said at the beginning I always love to hear about new software so please let me know what you would hate to run your business without.

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Who’s in charge in your office?

Hands up if your desk is hardly visible under a pile of paperwork …

OK, we’re in the electronic age so you may have got away with that one, so hands up if your email inbox has more than 20 emails in it …

If you are still firmly sitting on your hands, you can have a gold star and get on with your work as you clearly don’t need the top tips I’m about to give to the rest of us who have what can only be described as ‘not-so-organised chaos’ going on in our office.

#1 Have plenty of stackable trays

I have numerous R-Kive Desk-top Sorters stacked on top of each other and on shelves to help organise my paperwork and stationery. I have trays for each different type of work waiting to be actioned. I also have my different papers and envelopes, labels, etc in trays so they are easily accessible and I can label them so I can tell my 80gm paper from my 120gm paper in an instant.

#2 Set up folders and rules to manage your incoming email

Outlook, Gmail and I’m sure most other email clients, allow you to set up rules to manage your incoming email. You can set up folders in your inbox for different types of messages – different customers, different types of work, etc – and then set up rules that automatically kick emails from certain people or to certain email addresses or with a particular word or phrase in the subject line, into the correct folder. That way you don’t have to wade through tens or hundreds of emails to find the one you are looking for and you can manage your time better by setting aside time to deal with certain issues and only having to look at those emails during that period.

#3 Use a cloud-based email client

Whether it’s Gmail, Yahoo, Microsoft Office 365 or another, having an email system that is cloud-based means that you only have to deal with messages once – if you delete them on one device, they are gone from another when you log on there; if you respond to a message, the response to accessible from another device when you log on there. It saves loads of time both in dealing with your daily messages and also in hunting for the response you know you’ve sent but you just can’t remember whether it was from your phone or your laptop.

I know there are several techniques out there that people use to keep on top of their incoming mail and deal with it all on the day it arrives, so I’d love to hear from you if you have a system that’s working really well for you.

 

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