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Tired of Business Paperwork? Save Time With These 7 Simple Tips

Most people look at an organized person and think, “That person must really enjoy paperwork.”

But I think this is wrong. I’m pretty organized, yet I despise paperwork.

Here’s the more likely scenario. The most organized people just hate paperwork more than everybody else. In fact, they hate it so much that they’re willing to do anything to reduce the amount they have to do.

Just think about it for a second.

I’ll spend 5 hours creating a system for something that might otherwise only take 5 minutes. Who in their right mind would do such a thing? Somebody who wants to do less work later, that’s who.

I know I’ll save dozens of hours later, maybe even hundreds by creating systems that make the work easier or unnecessary instead of just putting out fires in the short term.

So if you struggle to stay organized, maybe it isn’t because you hate paperwork, but because you don’t hate paperwork enough. You just haven’t reached the tipping point yet.

Now maybe you aren’t hypersensitive to this kind of thing like I am, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the time and effort I’ve spent trying to figure it out.

Here are a few things you can use today to save time on administration tasks in your handyman business.

#1 – Setup Business Accounts

The first step in creating a seamless paperwork workflow is to make sure you have the proper business accounts setup. The step alone could save you at least 20 hours per year.

Here’s the thing though, it’s critical that these accounts be separate from your personal accounts. This allows you to totally separate your personal finances from the business finances. Not only is this required for tax purposes, but it will just keep things so much cleaner and organized.

There are three accounts I recommend setting up:

  • A business checking account
  • A business savings account
  • A business credit card

#2 – Create a “Spending System”

The best way to simplify paperwork is to create systems. Systems will set you free.

Once you have your business account setup, you’ll want to pre-determine how you use each account. Basically, you’ll want to create “rules” on how each account will be used. This keeps things clean and allows you to quickly know where to look for certain transactions in the future (like during tax time). It eliminates constantly having to think about which card to buy something with or how much money to keep in an account.

Basically, give each account a clear purpose and define how it will be used.

For example, my credit card is used for ALL business purchases (I never use my checking account or purchases). That’s because I get points for purchases, and it allows me to quickly identify how much I spend each month. It also allows me to easily see what I’m spending my money on every month.

Another example is for my business savings. I have some money automatically transferred to savings each month and then use that money to pay my taxes on a quarterly basis. That way I don’t have to think about saving money to pay taxes, it just happens.

#3 – Automate Whenever Possible

Anything that can be automated should be. By putting in a few minutes upfront to automate a common task, you will save yourself hundreds of hours (and sometimes dollars) down the road.

The first thing I recommend automating is your business credit card payment. Set it up to pay the entire balance due each month. That way you NEVER pay any interest, but you still reap the rewards of getting points for every dollar you spend. Most importantly, it doesn’t take your time and attention.

But what if you don’t have enough money in my checking to pay the entire balance?

Good question, and the solution is simple. Just keep at least one month’s worth of expenses in your business checking at all times.

So if you spend about $1,000/month on your credit card, make sure your checking account balance never dips below $1,000 (and ideally even more to give yourself a cushion). I don’t like my checking account to dip below $2,000.

It could take some getting used to, but it frees your attention up to focus on other things – like making more money. The last thing you want to do is have to constantly move money around to make your payments.

There are hundreds of other things you can automate, and new apps created every day to help you automate even more. Time spent investigating this will almost always pay off.

In this post I highlight a few apps to help automate other tasks in your handyman business.

#4 – Batch Common Processes

There are a lot of paperwork tasks that you come across every day – like processing receipts and customer payments, following up with customers, and writing quotes.

Instead of trying to do these tasks as soon as you come across them, why not schedule them in larger chunks and do them less often? This saves you from task-switching, which is a well known productivity mistake.

For example, I only do my accounting once a month. Instead of spending 15 minutes each day when I get home from work, I compress all that time into a two hour period once a month (and sometimes once every few months if I’m really busy).

Another example is customer follow up. Instead of trying to get to customers “as soon as you get a chance,” try scheduling the same time every day to handle all follow-up at once, thus alleviating wasted time due to task switching.

Here are some other items I batch:

  • I only make a bank deposit one time per week.
  • I only check my mail a maximum of one time per week.
  • I try to purchase all materials in one shopping trip each week.

Don’t waste time and resources doing tasks more often than necessary.

#5 – Have an Intermediate Processing System

One problem with batching is that receipts and paperwork tend to pile up. That is, unless you have somewhere to put them.

That’s where an intermediate processing system comes in. That’s just a fancy name for a bin or a folder to put stuff until you’re ready to deal with it. This sounds simple, but sometimes the best things are.

Here’s an example. I use a three compartment desk organizer to temporarily store receipts and payments. Receipts go into one compartment, payments in another, and the third compartment is for random things that need to be processed (bills, etc.).

#6 – Utilize the Power of The Checklist

After reading “The Checklist Manifesto” I’ve been all about creating checklists for my business to save me time and cognitive energy.

One of the most impactful checklists has been my accounting checklist. Basically, I’ve detailed out the exact steps I need to go through to handle my accounting in a step by step format.

This might sound like a waste of time, but it’s actually pretty amazing. Since I only do accounting once a month, I tend to forget the best process for handling it. Without the checklist, I have to re-invent the process over and over again which drains my energy and mental horsepower.

But, with a checklist, I can just go straight to work with almost no thinking required. Saving me time and energy for more important tasks.

#7 – Delegate What You Can’t Automate

Once you’ve developed a system and checklist, the next level is to delegate the task. Give it to somebody else. Wipe your hands clean of it for good.

Sure, this will take time upfront, but it’s pretty easy to do the math to see if it’s worth it.

For example, I hired a lady to do my accounting and it only costs $75 per month. So, instead of spending 2-3 hours doing it myself, I can spend that time making between $180-$300 by providing handyman services (which I enjoy more anyway).

There’s really no limit to what you can delegate either, it just takes the willingness to develop a good system and train somebody on it.

Conclusion

Again, systems will set you free. They will give you more time, more resources, and more energy to progress in your business. And when you consistently focus on creating systems, your power grows exponentially. As you create systems to free up your time, you have even more time to create more systems, feeding a cycle that gives you even more time while you get even more done. If you’re intelligent with this process, the systems will build on each other and to build wealth and freedom.

Eliminate or Automate what you can, and delegate or streamline the rest. Then keep refining your systems. Soon you’ll have more time than you know what to do with.

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  • matt stern August 31, 2016

    Hi Dan:

    As usual, nicely done! Knowing the small business owner (SBO) as I do, I’m not sure putting off the “batch” work is a good idea (#4) – for many SBOs, the more they put things off, the more they don’t get done. So for many, the advantages of doing it “now” far outweigh the small savings of time by not switching gears as often. Just my $.02

    Keep this good stuff coming! Perhaps in the future you’ll address more on automation?

    • Dan Perry August 31, 2016

      Good point, Matt. Everybody has a different style that works for them.

      I actually have a tendency to put things off as well. But, I try not to use a less efficient way solve that problem. Instead, I’ll just follow my own advice from this article – “6 Strategies For Taking Action Everybody Should Know.”

  • Drew August 31, 2016

    Super helpful article thank you, your site has helped us start a handyman business from the beginning and now it’s rolling (almost 2 years) and it is really time to utilize all the tips you just wrote about! Thank you so much for your strategies and your website–it’s been such a great resource for us. Take care!

    • Dan Perry September 1, 2016

      Your welcome, Drew. Glad you’re doing well.

  • Tait Leaney September 1, 2016

    Thanks for this article Dan! It makes a lot of sense and I’m going to try to find a way of using these tips

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