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Blog: The Organized Entrepreneur
Playing Red Light, Green Light (or Organizing Isn't Child's Play)

I grew up playing a game called "Red Light, Green Light" in the yard with all the neighborhood kids in Enid, Oklahoma. Thinking back, it was really kind of boring.  Would it surprise you to find out that I now play my own version of this game every time I walk into my office?
Like most organizers, I have a structured and linear thought process, while the majority of my clients are more visual and creative.  When I moved into my new office last October, I decided to try a new filing system.  Out with the boring, basic rows of file folders with matching labels - in with color coding. 
I decided to use red, yellow and green folders and tabs and used the colors to communicate categories much like a stop light.  Here is a description of what you would find in a section of my files:
Administrative files are in red folders.  The color red serves two purposes to get my attention and to remind me to stop.  Red files need attention because these are the items that, if neglected, could damage my business.  Examples of files in the red section include: receipts for business expenses, state sales tax permit, incorporation paperwork and insurance documents.  The color red also serves as a reminder to "stop".  When I am working on a file that is red, I am not generating any current or future revenue.  I need to complete these tasks as quickly as possible and move on to more advantageous activities.
Client files are in yellow folders.  The color yellow serves two purposes to make me slow down long enough to think and, since yellow is my favorite color, it also helps me to always feel cheerful when I am working with my clients.  Files in yellow represent current cash flow.  It is a good thing to work on items that generate revenue for today, but I need to also be vigilant for long-term opportunities to grow my business.  The yellow, much like the yellow light on a traffic signal, makes me take a moment to assess my options for how to invest my time. 
Strategic files are in green folders.  Just like on the road, this is the fun part!  Anything that could help me improve my business goes in a green folder.  Examples of files in the green section include: business plan, interesting articles about the organizing industry, website documentation, seminar ideas and information from conferences I have attended.  When I sit down at my desk with a green file, I know that as long as I am obeying the traffic laws (ie If I don't get around to tasks that generate cash flow, I won't be able to pay the bills) I can give myself free-reign to invest my time in the project at hand. 
I will readily admit that this is an unusual filing system and I have never seen another one exactly like it.  However, it has been an interesting experiment for me to experience the benefit my visual clients receive from color coding and I really enjoy the odd looks I get when a client visits my office and wants to see what the Organizer's files look like!

posted on: 7/12/2008 8:30:00 AM by Shana Prichard
category: Business

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The Organized Entrepreneur

by Shana Prichard

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About Shana:

Shana M. Prichard, MBA owns realign, llc, a professional organizing firm. realign, llc provides small business organizing services including filing system design/implementation, desk and time management and QuickBooks set up and training. realign, llc also provides home-office organizing services to individuals.

Shana's Website:


What I'm Reading . . .

  • "Raising Financially Fit Kids", Joline Godfrey
    Common sense ideas and insight into raising kids who are wll-prepared to manage their own finances as young adults.
  • "The Success Principles: How To Get From Where You Are to Where You Want To Be" by Jack Canfield
    This book really got me excited about pursuing my goals and growing my business. There is a heavier emphasis on materialism than what I am comfortable with, but overall this is an inspiring book.
  • "The Organized Executive", by Stephanie Winston
  • "No B.S. Time Management for Enterpreneurs" by Dan Kennedy

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