Recently, we’ve noticed an influx of articles and blog posts talking about how successful people start their day. But what about how they finish it?

We sat down with our resident organizational expert Jane Bickel (also the Executive Assistant to our CEO) to learn about one of the ways she stays organized and calm when there are 8,000 balls in the air.

Jane is not only the Executive Assistant to our CEO managing five calendars including her own, she also oversees major facilities changes like building out additional office space, acts as our office manager, and maybe most importantly keeps our kitchen stocked with snacks fielding all requests of “Where are the Rice Krispies Treats®?”

Needless to say, she has a lot going on. One of her secrets to keeping things on track is an organizational concept she learned in a former manufacturing job: The 5S’s. The 5S’s is a well-known Japanese system for keeping a clean and orderly workspace but as Jane explains, “It’s about being neat and tidy, but it’s also about transitioning out of work at the end of the day.”

Over her career Jane has used this system again and again to close out her work days. We’ve modified it a tad from the traditional Japanese, manufacturing model so you can incorporate it into your own routine. Taking the 15 or 20 minutes to prepare for the next day (physically and mentally) will allow you to get straight to work when you return, and can help beat back that nagging question, “Where do I even begin?”

Try leaving some time at the end of the day to go through the following steps:

1. Sort. Start by going through your work space. What can you get rid of that you’re finished using or won’t need tomorrow? This often involves paper, but it can also be digital clutter that builds up over the day. Whether it’s mail that’s stacked up, documents waiting to be filed, or emails clogging up your inbox, the first step is to identify what is no longer necessary and get rid of it.

2. Straighten. If you take a few minutes at the end of the day to put things back where they belong, you’ll be walking into a clean work area at the start of your next day. Something as simple as gathering all of your pens and putting them away, neatly stacking necessary papers, or wiping down a work surface can give you a sense of order.

3. Simplify. A large part of being organized is creating systems. If an item doesn’t have a place, create one. If you’re always missing a certain supply or have to go looking for a certain tool, find a better way. Start to notice what’s keeping you from focusing on your work, and implement systems to address those things. Jane noticed that if she restocked the coffee supplies in the afternoon before she left for the day, she had a lot fewer interruptions in the morning asking her where to find more coffee.

4. Sweep away. Depending on your business, this could mean sweep the floors and clean your work area. But it can also be used as a reminder to mark off what you accomplished and prioritize for the next day. If you can finish your day understanding exactly what you have to do tomorrow and in what order, you can get straight to work when it’s time to start again.

5. Stick to it. It works best if you do it every day. The more you make removing the residual physical, digital, and mental clutter, a part of your daily routine, the more efficiency and effectiveness you’ll have in your business. Building in a time to wrap up your work day will help the dust settle (and be cleaned up) before you get back to work.

It may feel like your small business never actually shuts down for the day, but there are a few things you can do at the end of every day to make sure that when you come into work tomorrow, you’re set up to succeed.

Our mission at Swift Capital is to unleash the potential of every small business by providing them with fair and convenient access to working capital. We harness data and technology alongside personalized human expertise to see the true potential in every business. Did you like this post? Tell us what you’d like to see on our blog. Email us at [email protected] or tell us here.


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