Business experts agree that a messy office has a direct impact on your reputation as a dairy manager and also affects how people will work with you. Some will assume that your office chaos will spill over onto any business dealings they might have with you. At the very least, they worry that their files could be lost in your mess. With the approaching tax deadline, there are even more reasons to make sure your office is organized and well-maintained.
Are we suggesting that we need office inspectors?
With all the stresses of dairy farming, do we really need one more? Many feel that people read too much into a messy office. Of course the same could be said of a super neat one. How do you know whether they’re truly neat or whether they just bagged everything up and threw it in a closet before you dropped in?
The state of your office isn’t the only measure of your dairy business strengths
There are many talents that must be developed when you are committed to making your dairy operation the best that it can be. Nevertheless, having your office materials well-organized does help with that all-important first impression. As time goes on, it also helps in building an ongoing working relationship. People coming into your well-organized office are more likely to recognize that doing business with you is efficient and effective.
Here are 4 benefits of a clean office.
- Mess equals stress.
When you feel stress, it’s easier to blame a supplier or staff or both for the problem or problems at hand. A decluttered office makes you feel calm and relaxed. You are more likely to find solutions that are needed, when you aren’t overwhelmed by papers that are missing.
- Being organized saves time.
The less stuff there is, the less you have to clean, put away and maintain. Constantly sorting and moving stuff is a vicious cycle. The 24/7 nature of dairy life doesn’t need added workload in the office. When you have less stuff to deal with, you have more time for your priorities. Don’t underestimate it.
- Focus filing means a better bottom line
Spending hours searching, sifting and screaming is both counterproductive and costly. Once you are able to step into a decluttered office, you will be able to get things done without being distracted or overwhelmed by mess.
- No more “tax”ing headaches
Do your nerves gradually tense up as tax deadlines approach? Wouldn’t it be great to know where the stuff you need is every single time? When you organize the important things and clear away the rest, you will never panic again. Ready and on time. Awesome.
What does your office say about your dairy?
You are well aware that cows and milk production are the top priorities of your work day. But just as your cows and equipment make an impression on others, your workspace gives suppliers and consultants a distinct impression about you. “Everything in your office sends a message, whether you want it to or not.” So what might people be thinking when they step into your office.
“This manager has his finger on everything that goes on here”
Whether you have been in the dairy business 20 months or 20 years, there are challenges to be met every day. You have to deal with veterinarians, your dairy staff, your family, the banker and countless suppliers and consultants who want a piece of you and your wallet. Organize your office so that you can meet your goals while having a productive dialogue with each of these stakeholders.
“I was successful and with it in the past!”
Awards. Trophies. Certificates. These can mark a successful career. Or they can become faded … and dusty … with dates more that a decade old! The same is true of your family gallery. If you have a grad picture of your daughter her figure skating photo when she was five is overkill. And your desk should never parade your hairstyles of the past decade. Make it a point to update photos. Don’t simply add frames. The past is past!
“Meet my support crew! ‘Candy’, ‘Caffeine’ and “Cigarettes’!”
Not everyone sees themselves as an amateur detective but sometimes the evidence is just too obvious to miss. A full candy dish, pop and beer cans says that perhaps your backup team is the first thing you reach for. A desk cluttered with empty coffee cups and energy drinks may be sending a message about your time management … or lack of it.
“I can’t even manage the small details. Don’t give me something big to think about.”
When every corner is stacked with boxes and all the flat surfaces are buried under teetering piles of paper, half-eaten pizzas and crumpled invoices, scraps of paper and unknown equipment parts, it is hard to believe that this is an organization focused on leading edge milk production, dairy genetics or achieving ever higher benchmarks.
“I don’t have time for new information”
Sometimes an office doesn’t have to be cluttered or messy to send a message. In fact, an office with sticky notes everywhere and corkboards an inch deep in paper and pins is not short of organization, it could merely be short of effective organization. If a light breeze would disturb the priority order of your routine, it’s time to pull down the sticky notes and start compiling your lists and information in a way more befitting the 21t century. Now put a note up about that upcoming computer seminar training series!
So how do you transform your workspace to tell your story?
Ask yourself these questions.
What is your dairy business all about?
What makes your family and staff proud?
What story and image do you want to convey that sets you apart from your competition? What will inspire you and the people who share your space?
Here are 6 ways to begin your dairy office transformation.
- Start with one small step at a time. It is a common but fatal mistake to pull everything out all at once and try to tackle the whole mess at once. Much better and more successful is simply tackling one area at a time. The desktop. One file drawer. One shelf.
- Never make more mess than you can clean up in fifteen minutes. To keep yourself committed to the final outcome, stop after a set time period. Do every day until every area in your office has a place for everything and everything in its place.
- Schedule a declutter day. For some, steps one and two may be too slow. This means you might want to schedule a declutter day. Ideally you should find a period of uninterrupted time that you know can be made available for tackling a big office issues: tax files; legal documents or shredding of documents. Although this is a bigger undertaking, it is important not to take on more than you can handle in the time you have available.
- Go paperless. Get rid of unnecessary paper and magazines. Scan the articles you know you will need. Throw away the rest. Uploading documents makes them accessible from anywhere.
- Set up a system of flow through that works for you. Dairy folks have years of hands on experience making sure that their dairy cattle are in the right place at the right time. Flow through is a concept that is applied from the milkhouse to the show ring. Paper, projects and information that come to the farm should flow through the system in the same organized way. Assign a folder to the priority tasks you handle with paper and watch your bottom line improve
- Get rid of your junk drawer. Many desks have a shallow drawer front and centre. For many this becomes a catch space where you throw thing to get the out of sight. You can go to Pinterest and find hundreds of ways to organize the countless tiny items. Organization took a huge leap forward for me when I emptied that mini-office-supply store drawer and only keep two things inside:
- my daily calendar and
- my current project binder there.
First thing every day those two items come out. I fire up my computer and get to work. At the end of the day, the calendar and binder go back in the drawer. On some occasion, my Mac laptop joins them and my desktop is completely clear. It’s amazing how much this clear space helps in keeping everything organized and accessible.
The Bullvine Bottom Line
At the end of your dairy work day, you are the only one who has control over the message sent out by your office layout, logistics and décor. Ideally, your cow sense and dairy results are already speaking loud and clear. Now make sure your office organization supports that message!