As a contractor, one of your top priorities should be keeping yourself and your business organised. As long as you keep on top of the day to day running of your business, the admin shouldn’t take you more than an hour a month. So here are a few ways to keep organised as a contractor.
Virtual or paper?
First things first, you need to sort a storage solution for your paperwork but where do you start? Should all your documents be stored virtually or should you have a hard copy filing system?
The answer is both!
As with anything, it is always best to have a backup – you never know what could happen. Virtual storage or cloud-based storage is a great way to keep all your important documentation safe as well as accessible. There are many options when it comes to cloud-based storage such as, Dropbox or Apple’s iCloud, which have a free version as well as a monthly subscription for access to increased storage.
Or if you would prefer not to use a service, you could buy your own cloud-based server, such as Western Digital’s My Cloud. The My Cloud app allows you to access your documents from anywhere and also can set up automatic backups on your computer, just to make sure no document ever slips through the net.
Most accountants now offer online accounting software, which will store important documents such as, invoices and expenses but still securely sending them to your accountant. Also, if you ever did have an investigation from HMRC (which is very unlikely) all the information they require will be located in one place.
At Nixon Williams, we have Vantage, a cloud-based accounting portal which allows for 24/7 access, direct contact with an accountant, secure document storage and much more.
Keeping your home office organised
Don’t use the excuse of ‘I’m organising’ in order to procrastinate – once it’s done just remember to keep on top of it, ideally at the end of your day just spend a few more minutes making sure everything is filed away.
Organise the paper documents you have into a filing system, for example, by topic or alphabetically – the choice is yours. You will thank yourself later.
Another important factor of having a functional workspace is to make sure your computer or laptop is in a good position for you, i.e. there will be no sun glare at any point of your working day, you don’t find yourself slumping into your chair the later into the day it gets, and your computer or laptop is set up correctly for everything you will need. You need to minimise any potential distractions, such as not having a particular piece of software, or printer paper, or ink and having to interrupt your day to get it.
Create a to-do list
A handy app, which is available on PCs, Macs and tablets is Wunderlist, where you can quickly create to-do lists. These lists can be shared with other people, so there is never an excuse to forget anything again. Best of all there is a very satisfying tick noise once you have completed an item.
An organisation on the go
Although, if you are on the flip side and you work directly with clients i.e. if you are an IT contractor you may be spending more time out of your home office and more time on the go. So how can you bring your office with you?
Depending upon what role you are in depends exactly what you need but sticking to the essentials of a laptop, tablet and notepad and a pen, should be the basics.
A couple of notable apps that will help you on the go are:
- Evernote: Which is basically an online notepad, which you can add images too, record voice notes, scribble on your tablet and share notes with other users.
- Toggl: In a nutshell toggl allows you to turn on a timer, for example, you could use this when in a client meeting so you know how long you need to charge them for.
- Vantage: Our online accounting software also comes in the form of an app, this allows you to always be on top of your accounting, but you can always see a snapshot of your businesses finance, always handy if you are taking a client out to lunch.
Another useful feature of Vantage is the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) system which pulls in data from your expense receipts and automatically fills in an invoice for you. It does this by taking a photo of the receipt. Once an invoice has been created, it is stored for your accountant.
So however manic your daily contracting life is, you can make sure you’re on top of it with these helpful tips.
Got a question? Get in touch.
If you would like to speak to an accountant about any questions you may have about contracting, please call us on 01253 362062 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.