Paperwork: The Thing That Can Kill Your Time and Destroy Your Income
If you are operating a business you might feel at times that the paperwork is taking over your life! Some of the time you invest in completing it might be billable but other documents might not.
There are several things that you can do that will make you feel like you are more in control.
1. Make sure that you are clear about what paperwork needs to be done and what is unnecessary. You do need to have a record of every single contact that you have with your client, for example, but likely will not be able to bill for it. This is part of protecting your professional reputation and is just part of the job. If you find yourself preparing reports or completing forms at the request of the client you might find that you are doing this without charging and need to adjust your practices to capture the fees that you are losing. Most other paperwork is not necessary and you will need to either stop doing it so that you can focus on other billable tasks or, if you really aren't ready to let go of it, hire someone to do it while you work more hours to pay for the cost of doing it.
2. Standardize and automate as many things as possible. You might, for example, prepare a form that you can use for all contacts with clients or third party payers. This will help you to speed up the process of documenting if you include boxes that you can check off for recurring situations. Setting up templates in your software for reports that you do frequently will also save valuable time. If individuals as you the same questions over and over, you might want to type the answer into your email Signature file. A click of the mouse will save you from having to repeatedly type the same thing over and over.
3. Do things right away. Organizational experts often state that you should only handle a piece of paper once. When you open your mail, enter the amount you owe for bills into your payables program and set a reminder for payment. Complete your client notes and put them on file the day that you see the client. Aim to have a clean desk every night before you leave the office.
You cannot avoid paperwork without feeling stress and having to deal with it eventually so the more time that you invest in creating and implementing shortcuts, the more you will feel like you are handling it.