Book Review: 57 Secrets for Organizing Your Small Business

A couple months ago, I purchased the digital version of 57 Secrets for Organizing Your Small Business by Julie Bestry. Julie is a professional organizer specializing in office and paper organization, and I thought her secrets might be useful for Unclutterer’s readership and for myself. If her name is familiar to you, she has appeared on the site in the past.

While there are 57 short chapters in this book, there are more than 57 secrets for keeping your business organized. Each chapter is packed with useful and easy-to-implement tips that immediately solve organizational problems for anyone who works in an office or maintains an office in their home.

There are several chapters on time management and how to stop procrastinating. Julie provides information on how to take advantage of technology to reduce your workload by using databases and auto-responders. One of my favourite chapters was “Automate to Levitate.” Julie advises people to:

  • Create checklists and scripts. When meeting with prospective clients or vendors, the same questions are asked each time. By writing these questions down and creating a script or checklist, interviews and meetings will go much more smoothly and you’ll have all of the information you need. These checklists can also be important when training staff to perform these tasks.
  • Design templates. Instead of creating responses to each inquiry from scratch, develop letters (or sections of letters) that can be easily reconfigured to create responses. Simply copy and paste the required sections and customize the key points. For Gmail, templates can be made using “Canned Responses” from Google Labs.
  • Observe and document rituals. Build routines for complex tasks such as bookkeeping or data-entry. Write down each step in detail so that if you had to turn the entire project over to someone else, such as a virtual assistant, the work would be completed correctly and to your standards.

Julie also describes how to write effective emails and make productive phone calls so you get all of the information you need at one time instead of sending dozens of messages back and forth between coworkers.

Like many professional organizers, Julie encourages readers to set goals and become masters of their task list. The advice Julie shares in this book help readers discover which type of “to-do” list is best suited for them. She also talks about goal setting and attainment the “SMARTY SKIRT” way.

Julie teaches readers how to be a “File Whisperer.” She clarifies for how long documents should be kept and offers alternatives to the traditional filing cabinet for document storage. She also describes how to escape the traps that many people fall into when they build a filing system. Julie even shares secrets to building an effective mobile filing system for those who travel for business.

57 Secrets for Organizing Your Small Business also includes myriad tips on how to improve your writing skills, manage your finances, use social media effectively, prepare for emergencies, and set boundaries between work and home. A few more of my favourite tips were:

  • Schedule specific office hours and share your schedule. By creating specific office hours and sharing your schedule with co-workers, they will know when you are available to answer questions and help solve problems. By leaving a memo-board on your office door people will be able to leave messages for when you are available.
  • Arrange your furniture. Keep the extra chair outside your office door and bring it in only when visitors are expected. A chair could be positioned at a small desk or tucked in a corner so unexpected visitors would be discouraged from staying longer than necessary.
  • Designate gatekeepers. During designated office hours, specify someone else to deal with non-emergency problems. For example, a virtual assistant might respond to all general inquiries or in a home office situation, a spouse or older child might deal with all household related issues.

57 Secrets for Organizing Your Small Business was a pleasure to read and was peppered with references to pop culture (Does everyone remember Gladys Kravitz?) and famous people such as George Clooney. Julie’s comparison of loose papers to “floozies” made me smile, not only because it was funny but a surprisingly useful comparison.

Whether you are the owner of a small business, an employee in a large corporation, or head of your own household, I recommend this book for those wishing to make a positive change in their office environments.

2 Comments for “Book Review: 57 Secrets for Organizing Your Small Business”

  1. posted by Julie Bestry on

    I’m so honored that you wrote this review, Jacki, and I am not too proud to admit that I did quite the little happy dance, seeing my book reviewed on Unclutterer, so thanks, Erin, as well. For a professional organizer, this feels like the equivalent of hitting the New York Times book review section!

    When the publisher and I first started talking about formats in addition to the basic paperback, I kept saying, “Not just Kindle and Nook — it’s got to be in Kobo, because that’s what they have in Canada!” and had you and my Coffee Crisp Nation in mind. But now people are telling me they also buy it on iTunes, which I’ll be honest, I didn’t know sold books until mine was published. (Organizer and writer first, publishing magnate, last!)

    George, Gladys, the floozies and I all thank you!

  2. posted by Deborah S. on

    This seems like a VERY helpful book and as a small business owner I am trying to expand my business book list for the summer (I am definitely adding this to the list). Keeping things organized is key and I often find myself getting overwhelmed with what needs to be done. I would like to tell you all about a book I recently read called “One Dot, Two Dots, Get Some New Dots” by innovation expert David Silverstein (http://www.davesdots.com/). Using metaphors and real life examples from todays leading companies the author introduces us to “dot collecting”. A strategy involving the use of your powers of observation in order to stimulate your creativity and get you ahead in the world of business. By using these easy to read examples and outlining a 12 step program anyone can become an expert “dot collector” and jump ahead in their professional life. You may have heard of big companies “connecting the dots”, the author explains a better way of doing this in terms that anyone can understand, and enjoy. I hope you give it a read and perhaps write about it in a future blog. It’s a book that helped my business a lot (and how I think about business)

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