5 classic summer disasters and how to avoid them

Scan Film or Store - 5 summer disasters and how to avoid themAh the summer. A joyous time, full of sunshine and happiness and ice cream cones and laughing children. Or not, as the case may be. Call us old codgers if you will but we can’t help but see the potential disadvantages of this supposedly splendid season – the lurking disasters that threaten to strike at any time without warning.

Here are a few you may find familiar…

1) The holiday jealousy heart attack

Facebook is officially bad for your health. As are Instaphoto, Twitpic and Snapchatter (did we get those right??). Throughout the summer, social media is stuffed with pictures from around the world – Mauritius, Gran Canaria, the Seychelles – all golden sands and blue skies, cocktails with little umbrellas and, worst of all, golden brown “look at me, I’m on holiday!” hotdog leg photos. When all you’ve got to look forward to is seven long nights at Butlins, it’s enough to give you a heart condition.

Solution: Defriend anyone who is venturing beyond the shores of our little island and drink colourful cocktails until you start to feel better.

2) The day the charcoal runs out

After weeks of rain the sun has finally made an appearance – time to fire up the barbecue! Only you haven’t got any charcoal. No problem. There’s a garage round the corner. Oh, they’re sold out. Never mind, the supermarket usually has some. Hm, not today though. Several futile attempts later you are forced to grill your sausages and chicken wings in the oven, leaving them in there for far longer than necessary in order to get that authentic burnt taste (it’s not the same though, is it?).

The solution: Stock up now. It’s the only way. Fill your shed, the cupboard under your stairs, whatever space you can find. You can always sell the excess to your neighbours for a profit later.

3) The ‘where the heck is that $*@# document?!’ moment

You can guarantee it: every summer without fail, just as the office is starting to resemble the Marie Celeste, a client will ring up demanding some important old report or other essential document that was archived months ago. And because Marjorie is on holiday and she’s the only one who understands the filing system (or is brave enough to venture into the storage room) your hands are tied. Which is not going to go down well with the client. Or your line manager.

Solution: Dispense with Marjorie! Not literally, obviously. Just ensure you don’t need her to find stuff for you by getting us to take care of your archives. We use a clever barcoding system in our custom built storage facility in Bridgwater so that we can find any document pretty much instantaneously, and we can deliver them back to you within 24 hours either as a scanned copy or in original hard copy.

4) The misjudging of the exact strength of the sun

This is England. It rains in the summer. Except when it doesn’t. Then we’re both excited and bewildered by the ability to venture outside without the need for socks or an emergency umbrella (just in case). All of that sunshine can go to our heads a bit. We haven’t got used to putting suncream on yet, we weren’t expecting to have to use it unless we unexpectedly won a free trip to Dubai. So inevitably, on that first day when the thermometer creeps above 20C, we burn. And then spend the rest of the summer peeling and wearing factor 50.

5) The double booking of the village fete and the Wimbledon final

Wimbledon. It’s a British institution. Like the Queen’s speech, pubs and spotted dick. Missing the final is unacceptable. And yet you promised Doris that you’d run the tombola stall at the village fete that weekend. You really should have checked the date more closely but the WI ladies were looking at you so expectantly…

Solution: Switch with Mabel and offer to bake a few cakes for the tea stand. If that doesn’t work, make a generous donation to the church roof fund and all will be forgiven.

So there we have it. Five foolproof ways to avoid common British summer disasters this year.

If you do need a hand with your document storage, scanning, data conversion or destruction this summer, give us a call and we’ll be pleased to help.

Way out ways to go green this World Environment Day

Naturist on a bike - way out ways to go green blog post from Scan Film or StoreThere’s no doubt that the human race doesn’t have an especially good track record when it comes to taking care of this planet we call home. We use too much electricity and water, cut down too many trees, cause too much pollution – it’s not on, really.

But it’s never too late to make more of an effort to go green. And we don’t just mean by using a Bag for Life and sticking our vegetable peelings on the compost heap. The situation has got a bit more serious than that.

It’s time for something a little more extreme. And what better day to start than today, World Environment Day? Here are a few of our best suggestions.

Become a naturist

Who needs clothes, right? Manufacturing them uses loads of energy and often chemicals that cause pollution. Washing them uses energy too, and water. And then when you’re done with them, they sit in landfills causing more pollution and taking forever to break down. The simplest solution is definitely to ditch the clothes and embrace your eco-friendly birthday suit.

The moderate alternative: Buy clothes made from organic and sustainable fabrics such as bamboo wherever possible, and wash on a 30C cycle.

Whip up a batch of snails

Next time you’re out in the garden and you see a snail munching on your prize cabbages or your favourite hostas, get your revenge. Stick them in a pot and have them for tea! After all, the negative environmental impact of eating meat is well documented, in terms of water and energy use and also pollution. So what better way to get your RDA of protein and save your garden too? [Editor’s note: Actually, probably best to check they’re not poisonous first, ok?]

The moderate alternative: Actually oysters, mussels and clams will do just as well – they’re some of the most eco-friendly sources of animal protein around and a degree or two less icky.

Chuck out the photocopier

Did you know that the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year? That’s madness! And what’s the bet most of it is wasted on things that don’t really need to be printed or photocopied. There’s only one thing to do. It may be harsh but the photocopiers and printers need to go. If someone has to make a facsimile of something they can write it out by hand. That should make them think twice about whether they really need it.

The moderate alternative: Default the printer and copier to double sided, monitor individual usage so you can see where people are being wasteful, and store documents digitally so they can be shared without the need for making copies*.

Ditch the take away coffees

Hahaha, only joking! How would we survive?! Those disposable cups really aren’t good for the environment thought, so…

The moderate alternative: Get yourself a travel mug and next time you fill up, ask the barista to stick your half fat soy mochachino in there instead.

Stop brushing your teeth

You’re supposed to change your toothbrush roughly every three months, right? So that’s four little sticks of plastic you’ll be throwing away every year. Multiply that by the number of people in the UK (that’ll be over 65 million) and you can see that this whole oral hygiene habit we’ve got going on just isn’t sustainable.

The moderate alternative: Buy one of these eco-friendly bamboo toothbrushes instead – they even come in a fetching rainbow colourway!

*If you’re thinking about going paperless and want to talk to someone about how digital archiving works, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to chat through your individual situation.

GDPR by numbers

Scan Film or Store - GDPR by numbersYou’re fed up of hearing about GDPR, aren’t you? We understand. We’re not especially excited by it any more either (were we ever?). But it’s important, especially from today. Because today is the day that GDPR becomes law. You can’t put it off any longer!

If you still haven’t quite wrapped your head around it all, we’re here to help. We’ve boiled the confusion that is GDPR down to a few key numbers that are well worth knowing. Think of this as your crib sheet. Feel free to print it out and smuggle it into the exam room. We won’t tell.

6: The number of available lawful bases for processing personal data

These bases include:

  • Consent
  • Contract
  • Legal obligation
  • Vital interests
  • Public task
  • Legitimate interests

Find out more

In plain English: You can’t just process data willy-nilly. You need a reason. A very good reason. One a lawyer would approve of.

£35: The amount it costs to register as a data controller

Unless your business has an annual turnover of £25.9 million and more than 249 members of staff, or you’re a public authority with more than 249 members of staff. In which case you can probably afford the £500 fee.

Find out more

In plain English: You have to register as a data controller and it costs money but not very much unless you’re loaded anyway.

8: The number of rights provided for individuals under GDPR

These rights include:

  • The right to be informed
  • The right of access
  • The right to rectification
  • The right to erasure (aka The right to be forgotten)
  • The right to restrict processing
  • The right to data portability
  • The right to object
  • Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling

Find out more

In plain English: People are the boss of their own data. They can access it, change it, tell you to get rid of it – and a bunch more besides.

€20 million: The fine you could face for not complying with GDPR

Penalties for breaching GDPR can reach up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover – whichever is higher (yes, higher!).

In plain English: Getting GDPR compliant may be a pain in the backside but not nearly as much of a pain in the backside as having to fork out silly money if you don’t.

40%: The number of EU-based executives who don’t have a clue about GDPR rules

Actually the exact wording used by the Financial Times article where we read this was: “According to the consultancy EY, which surveyed 1,100 EU-based executives for its latest fraud and compliance report, almost 40 per cent said they did not know the GDPR rules even fairly well.”

Find out more

In plain English: No one knows what the heck is going on. Even top people who really should. Which is worrying. But kind of reassuring too, right?

12: The number of steps the ICO suggests taking to prepare for GDPR

And by ICO we mean the Information Commissioner’s Office. In other words, the GDPR experts. They’ve even produced a handy little guide, all designed in uplifting colours with a snazzy infographic so it won’t appear as tedious as it will in fact be to action.

Find out more

In plain English: Making sure you’re GDPR compliant isn’t a quick process. You will need to think about many, many things. But at least they made you an infographic.

72: The number of hours you have to report a data breach

If you don’t, you can be fined €10 or 2% of global turnover, whichever is greater. Even if you were otherwise compliant up until then.

Find out more

In plain English: Even if you do everything right, if some cyber criminal cracks your code and you don’t report it quick smart, you’re still going to be out of pocket.

10%: The bare minimum you should be doing

If you can show that you have made a start in complying with the new GDPR rules – and can provide an implementation plan to get you to full compliance within a set time frame – you could reduce a potential fine.

In plain English: Making a start is better than doing nothing. You might still get fined, but it should be less. Although we still recommend avoiding a fine altogether by cracking on and making sure you’re compliant asap.

Hopefully that little run down has given you a few more facts without you having to invest an awful lot of reading time. There’s plenty more info over on the ICO website if you need it… or if you can’t sleep one night after too much Brie.

While we’ve got you, if you have any data – whether that be paper documents, hard drives or anything else – that you need to destroy in light of GDPR, we can help. Give us a call today.

7 ways to tackle stress in the workplace

Scan Film or Store - 7 ways to tackle stress in the workplaceHi there! How are you today? No, don’t just say “fine” without thinking. How are you really? Might you be just a little bit stressed? Or even a lot stressed?

Government figures show that in 2016-17, over half a million workers in the UK were suffering from work-related stress, depression and anxiety. This caused 12.5 million working days to be lost. Which means stress doesn’t just suck for the people who are feeling it but for the companies they work for too.

So is there anything that can be done? Of course there is! If you run a business – or a team within a business – you’re in a unique position to change the culture and reduce stress in the workplace. Which makes you something of a superhero really.

Here are a few ideas to get you started…

1) Think flexi

Chaining your team to their desks from 9am to 5pm really isn’t the ideal way to get the most out of them. Some people are early birds who will be much more effective on an 8-4 arrangement. Others will be happier if they can squash their weekly hours into four days so they can have Fridays off. Still others will be far more productive if they can work from home. Flexible working can seriously reduce people’s stress levels, so ask your team about what might suit them. Even the fact that you’re asking will help them feel like they’re being looked after.

2) Get people moving

Physical exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress levels. Even something as simple as a walk at lunchtime can help people clear their heads, get mental space from their inbox and their deadlines, and get those endorphins pumping to raise wellbeing levels. We’re not suggesting you turf them all out in the cold a couple of times a day, but why not get a lunchtime walk club started, or sponsor their gym passes?

3) Have an open door policy

Here’s a little pop quiz for you. If someone in your team is stressed, are they likely to:

A: Come and talk to you about it

B: Moan to their other half about stressful work is

C: Pour a stiff G&T (or three)

D: Do nothing and carry on regardless

If the answer isn’t A, you need to do something about it. You can’t fix problems you don’t know about, right? People need to know they can talk to you about their stress levels without it impacting their status in the business.

4) Get your filing system sorted

Seriously, it’s bothering your staff – not to mention kicking their productivity levels down a notch or two and actually costing you money. Need proof? Research shows that a third of office employees see searching for documents as “difficult” or “frustrating”, with 42% saying it takes up to 15 minutes to find a document or file. Just think about that. If someone were to search for 16 files in the course of the day, they’d have spent half their time in the office doing that!

[Plug time! If you need help creating a filing system that is anything but stressful, get in touch – if we do say so ourselves, we’re really, really good at organising stuff. We can store your physical documents and deliver them back as you need them, or scan them and create a digital archive. Or both. Both is always a good option.]

5) Ban desk lunches

There are so many reasons why eating your lunch while you work is bad for your wellbeing. Firstly, you don’t get a break. Secondly, you don’t get to socialise. Thirdly, you don’t actually get to taste and enjoy your food. Banning desk lunches might seem extreme but it will show your team that you prioritise their wellbeing over the need to get stuff done. Consider creating a break out space in your office where people can eat and chat, or why not organise a weekly event like a bring and share lunch or pizza party?

6) Say thank you

Sometimes we all have to work hard. That in itself doesn’t have to be stressful. If you manage the situation properly then powering through an important project together can actually help your team bond and feel proud as they achieve a big win. But if you don’t encourage them along the way, recognise their efforts and say thank you at the end… well, you probably won’t get the same level of effort next time. Saying thank you is easy. Saying sorry is harder.

7) Lead by example

If you want your kids to eat vegetables and you’re busy scoffing an ice cream, you’re fighting a losing battle. And since leadership is a lot like parenting, the same principle applies in the office. Are you stressed? Are you doing what you can to reduce your stress levels? Remember that old example of putting on your own oxygen mask before you help others. You can’t help your team if you’re stuck at home recovering from a breakdown.

Reducing stress levels will improve your team’s productivity and make your office a nicer place to work. Which is good news for everyone. So think about whether you could implement one of more of these suggestions, then ask your team what else they’d like to see change.

Why shredding isn’t enough – and what the alternatives are

Shredded document - data security - blog post from Scan Film or StoreData security is a pretty important subject, as we think you’ll agree. Whether it’s personal bank details or highly classified company secrets, letting certain documents fall into the wrong hands is a very bad idea. At best, you’re left looking a bit stupid, at worst a breach like that could cost you millions.

“Yes, yes,” we hear you say. “We haven’t been living under a rock. We KNOW you can’t just chuck sensitive paperwork in the bin. But it’s all ok because we have (adopt reverent tone)… a shredder.”

Ah, the humble shredder. Such a fun office toy. There’s something mesmerising about feeding the tiny plastic beast with its chomping metal teeth and its mechanical growl. It’s like having a guard dog, in a way – you keep it supplied with enough paper and away from rogue staples, and in return it makes sure that no one gets their hands on your data.

Except we’re sorry to say that a shredder is about as effective a guard dog as an overly friendly beagle.

Shredding, only better

Don’t get us wrong, shredding is a good start. Definitely better than bundling up your top secret documents and sending them first class to your local tabloid newspaper. But a standard high street shredder simply spits out relatively wide strips of paper. Which, given enough time, concentration and patience, someone with nimble fingers could stick back together. We’ve seen it on enough episodes of CSI.

So, is there an alternative? Why yes, as it happens, there is.

Professional shredding – by which we mean shredding that is certified to BS15713:2009 standards, as ours is – does a completely irreversible job.

We start by cross shredding the paper so that its reduced to confetti rather than strips. And then, just to be sure, we pulp it so there really is no way anyone could read it. That pulp is then used in the manufacture of soft tissue products, so it’s green too, which makes us happy.

Bringing out the big guns

Of course, there are other physical items you might need to destroy which are’t made of paper. Things like microfilm and microfiche. These are definitely not shreddable – the whole point is that the images they contain are super tiny, so at best a shredder might cut one in half. Which means you’ll still be able to see the pictures or read the words they contain.

Instead what we do with microfiche and microfilm is incinerate it. This process is distinctly more complex than sticking it on a bonfire in the parking lot. Microfilm incineration is definitely something you want to leave to the professionals.

CDs and DVDs do get shredded, but obviously not with a standard paper shredder. Ours reduces the discs to small and entirely unreadable fragments that can then be recycled.

And then there’s magnetic computer tape – the kind you get in back up tapes – which we can either shred, incinerate or degauss. No, we’re not sneezing; degaussing is a process that removes the magnetic charge from a tape so you can’t read it any more. It got its name from the word gauss, which is a unit of magnetism that in turn was named after a German mathematician. Every day’s a school day!

So there you go – lots of ways to destroy stuff so you can’t stick it back together. We’re not suggesting you send us every scrap of paper you no longer need. But if you don’t want anyone to get hold of it – or by law you need to ensure it’s kept confidential – then do give us a shout so we can make sure that destroyed really means destroyed.

Do what you do best and outsource the rest

Scan Film or Store - do what you do best and outsource the restIt was legendary business theorist Peter Drucker who first said, “Do what you do best and outsource the rest.” And he was a pretty smart guy all round, so his views are not to be dismissed lightly.

It’s a principle that applies to pretty much every business, from start up to multinational. It can save time, money and get better results, and once you adopt the principle you’ll find more and more places it can be profitably applied.

So here are some things we think you could legitimately be outsourcing:

Organising receipts

Receipts – vital little scraps of paper that prove to the tax man that you’ve spent the money you say you have. You keep meaning to sort them out, but they aways end up piling up in your wallet until you can’t actually close it. Or crumpled up in a shoe box somewhere. Or lost. Enough is enough. You need a book keeper. Ideally before you get audited.

Finding documents

No one wants to go in the archive room because it’s dusty and it smells funny. Also, they don’t know where anything is. And frankly, why are you wasting £150 an hour sending highly skilled engineers into questionably safe spaces to find paperwork anyway? It’s time to get yourself an offsite storage facility with barcoding and super fast document delivery services. As it happens, we know just the people (hint: it’s us).

Driving around

No really, hear us out. How much time do you spend stuck in traffic going to meetings and such like? If you could spend that time sitting on a bus or a train or in a taxi actually getting work done, wouldn’t the cost of the fare be less than what you’d achieve? Hm? Think about it. It’s not free when you do something yourself – not if you earn a salary.

Fixing computers

Seriously, this is definitely something you need help with. Bob the sales guy might reckon he’s a dab hand at the old “switch it off and switch it on again” but these days businesses are so tech reliant. Can you afford to have your systems go down? A monthly support contract will almost certainly save you money in the long run. And frustration. And possibly having to spend time in prison after accidentally hitting a passing stranger with a flying laptop.

Your weaknesses

By which we mean, if you’re not great at something then get someone else to do it. So if you’re not especially good with words then get someone in to write your blog for you. If you can’t design for toffee, hire a designer. If you make a terrible cup of coffee, get an intern (kidding!!). Be honest with yourself, and stick within your personal ‘zone of genius’. Your business will thank you for it.

If you need help with document storage – or indeed document scanning, secure data destruction or any of the other services we offer – get in touch today for a quote. You might be surprised at how cost effective it is to outsource some of the jobs you’ve been trying to do in-house all this time.

Warning: GDPR isn’t just an online issue

Alarm clock showing GDPR deadline approachingDo you know what the date is on Sunday? No, don’t start scrabbling for your calendar app, we’ll tell you – it’s the 18th. Which happens to mark two months until GDPR kicks in. Yikes! How did that come about so fast??

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard of the General Data Protection Regulation. But just in case you haven’t, it’s the new law that will be building on the current Data Protection Act (DPA).

Laws, as we know, are complex things. So we’re not going to try and give you an in-depth guide here, ok? For that, you want to check out the guys over at the Information Commissioner’s Office.

We just wanted to remind you of one very important fact: GDPR doesn’t just apply to online data.

So you know those boxes of files you’ve got stored away? (Hopefully nice and neatly in our purpose-build storage facility in Bridgwater, but possibly in a slightly damp and scary storage room where spiders and dust bunnies vie for dominance). Well, they need some attention.

Individual rights covered by GDPR

GDPR is all about protecting people’s personal data. In fact, it gives individuals very specific rights:

  • Right to be informed – in other words, people need to know what you store and how, which is where a privacy policy is important.
  • Right of access – so basically people can check up on what you have on them and what you’re doing with it.
  • Right to rectification – which sounds like a terrifying medical procedure but just means if there’s an error in the data then they can ask for it to be rectified.
  • Right to erasure – also known as the right to be forgotten, so if the data is no longer actively being used then an individual can ask for it to be permanently destroyed or erased if it’s held electronically.
  • Right to restrict processing – a slightly more complex one about being able to store a certain amount of info but not actually use it.
  • Right to data portability – so people should be able to take the data you have on them and use them in other places.
  • Right to object – about specific processing or direct marketing using their data.
  • Rights related to automated decision-making including profiling – a complicated one that’s difficult to summarise so if you’re super interested then have a look here.

How does GDPR affect my archives?

Ok, so what does this mean for you and those box files of archived customer records and invoices from 1972? And why are we bothering you about it when you’d really rather be out on the golf course?

Well in the smallest of nutshells, you need to think about whether any of those boxes might contain personal data. Which includes (but is not restricted to):

  • Personal financial details
  • Medical records
  • Contact details
  • Online identifiers
  • So-called ‘sensitive data’ such as political opinions or trade union membership

If it does, and you don’t have a right to that data, then you might need to consider destroying it. And we don’t just mean sticking it in a black bin bag and waiting for collection day. Secure data destruction is something we take really rather seriously – we shred paper in two different directions and then pulp it so there’s absolutely no way it will end up in the wrong hands.

If you’re within your rights to hold the data, you’ve still got a little more work to do. Because GDPR isn’t just about what you collect and how, it’s also about protection. Which means if anyone can stroll into your archive room and get Jo Bloggs’ postal address and latest utility bill, you’ve got an issue.

Secure document storage will be even more essential than ever in the new GDPR world. You could invest time and resources into giving your current in-house storage a health check. Or you could get in touch with a company like us. Our HQ is alarmed and monitored 24-7, plus it’s environmentally regulated so you don’t need to worry about things like damp or sunlight or anything else that print documents just don’t like.

If you still want to gen up on GDPR in more detail, do check out the ICO’s 12 step guide on how to prepare for GDPR. But if you’re ready to take action and get yourself ready for that deadline in two months, do get in touch and ask the team about our secure data destruction and storage facilities today.

Why we love Scan Film or Store HQ

Scan Film or Store headquarters in Bridgwater, SomersetWe’re feeling a bit nostalgic this month, and all because we’re celebrating a very important anniversary: it’s been five years since we moved in to our beloved HQ. Now that might not seem all that exciting to you; an office is an office, right? Well, not as far as we’re concerned. This is our home and we love it. So here are some things you might not know about Scan Film or Store HQ.

It’s in Bridgwater

Bridgwater may not quite have the prestige of Bristol or Exeter, but it is very well located just off J23 of the M5 in easy reach of both. If you’ve not been to these parts before, Bridgwater is a market town on the edge of the Somerset Levels, and is probably most famous for it’s annual Guy Fawkes Carnival, of which Scan Film or Store are a very proud sponsor.

It’s really pretty big

With 2,000 square feet of office space and 9,000 square feet of racking, our little base is actually not so little. Which is a good thing, given that one of the reasons we’re here is to provide storage space for our many clients.

It was purpose built to our specifications

Oh yes, none of this off-the-shelf nonsense for us. We went bespoke when we commissioned our building. Not because we were trying to be flash. It’s just that a dedicated storage unit like ours has particular needs – like down beams that are linked to piles driven into the ground, to support the weight of all the documents we store. The whole floor actually had to be especially designed to take the weight of the paper, and the eaves are 8m high to accommodate the racking.

We’ve got a smashing local

Just over the other side of the motorway is The Puriton Inn, which is where we head if one of the team has a birthday, if we sign a good contract, or if we just can’t face eating soggy ham salad sandwiches again. It does huge portions of homemade food and has one of the best dessert selections in the South West.

It has a great view of Hinkley Point

Being within a stone’s throw of the new power point may or may not strike you as a good thing, but it’s certainly been interesting to watch the infamous project progress. Sadly, we don’t get a discount on our energy bill just because we’re neighbours.

We can watch the elver fishermen at work

For a three month period between mid-February and mid-May, the local river becomes a prime spot for elver fishing. Personally we’re not big fans of baby eels as a food source, but it’s fun to see the fishermen at work in their waders and nets.

If you’d like to see our offices for yourself, why not call us to arrange to drop in and say hello? We’ll give you the tour, a nice cup of tea and maybe even a biscuit if you’re lucky.

9 really easy ways to save time at work

Man multi-tasking to save timeWouldn’t it be great if you could buy time? Imagine being able to stroll into Tesco Express and pick up a jar – or a tube or a roll – of time, just to tide you over when things got a bit busy.

Sadly, buying time isn’t yet possible (we’re sure someone somewhere is working on it). But saving time, now that is possible. Not in a piggy bank, of course. You have to use it in the same sort of linear fashion as everyone else… oh, you know what we mean!

Anyway, here are our top tips for saving time at work.

1) Stop multitasking

You may be very proud of your ability to write an email while having a Skype call, eating a donut and tidying your stationery drawer, but it’s not doing you any favours when it comes to efficiency. Studies have shown that batch tasking – doing a series of similar tasks consecutively – is a much better way to get stuff done, so block out your time, get your head down and power through.

2) Manage your notifications

Did you read our recent post about New Year’s resolutions every business owner should make? If so, you’ll know that the fact that our electronic devices are so keen to tell us what’s going on means we can spend our entire lives fielding notifications. If you’re going to stop multitasking, you’ll need to make sure that you’re not getting interrupted every five seconds by a ping from Facebook, LinkedIn or your email.

3) Digitise your archives

How many hours have you spent scrabbling around in the archive room looking for paperwork you can’t even remember seeing, let alone filing? Wouldn’t it be so much easier if you could get hold of it at the touch of a button? Going digital by using a document scanning service (ahem, like ours) is a huge time saver, plus you’ll save on storage space too, so it’s a double win.

4) Have standing meetings

This isn’t a joke, promise. No one likes standing up for too long, right? So by banning chairs from your meetings you’ll reduce unnecessary chitter chatter, and everyone will get straight to the point. Result? Shorter meetings and more time for you to get on with other stuff.

5) Work to your personal rhythms

Without getting too science professor on you, there are these things called Circadian Rhythms, which basically control how we feel and behave within a 24 hour period. Listen to your body, work out when you’re most productive – maybe first thing in the morning or just after lunch – and try to do your most complex work then. You’ll zoom through it much faster than if you try when you’re feeling sluggish and no use for anything except drinking tea and possibly doing a gentle Sudoku.

6) Embrace ‘good enough’

This is one for all you perfectionists. You know that report you pretty much finished last week but have been tweaking ever since? SEND IT RIGHT NOW! It may not be perfect, but it is 99% there and that is good enough. So stop wasting time and move on to the next task. (Caveat: Good enough really isn’t good enough if you’re a brain surgeon or bomb disposal officer – in that case, you really need to aim for perfection, ok?)

7) Delegate

Do you really have to do everything on your to do list yourself? Is there someone else who can do some of it? Someone who, dare we say it, can do it quicker and even (gasp) better? Play to your strengths. If that means hiring in outside help – be it someone to handle your blogging or your event planning – you’ll probably find that the cost savings associated with you freeing up your own time will cover it.

8) Get IT support

Speaking of outsourcing… Did you know that the average business person working 40 hours a week spends 22 minutes a day sorting out computer issues? That’s 88 hours a year! Just think what you could do with that time if you had a dedicated techie to work out why all your emails since August have disappeared, rather than trying to do it yourself.

9) Say no

Of course, the very simplest way to save time is to be really, really stingy about how you spend it. Get into the habit of saying, “I’ll just check my schedule” when people ask if you can do something or invite you to an event. That way, you don’t have to say no to their face and you can work out a really great excuse if you don’t want to accept.

Good luck, and if there’s anything we can do to help (hint: number 3 is a bit of a specialism of ours) then do get in touch.

How choosing local businesses can benefit yours

Small businessHave you ever thought about whether choosing local businesses as suppliers can benefit your own business?

There’s something about the start of a new year that makes us a little bit philosophical. Perhaps it’s the feeling of new beginnings, that sense of starting afresh with a blank slate, ready for the next 12 months of adventure. Or it could, admittedly, be too much Christmas pudding and sherry.

Either way, the thing we’ve been mulling over recently is the whole question of multinational vs independent local business.

Because as a local business ourselves, we’re really rather proud about how much small businesses contribute to the local economy.

Over 99% of business in the UK are classed as small (in other words, with less than 49 staff) which is quite something when you think about it. In fact, around 76% of businesses don’t employ anyone at all aside from the owner, which means that even the really tiny sole trader business are absolutely vital.

Sadly the multinational conglomerates, with their endless pots of cash, can buy the kind of marketing that often overshadows the humble local business. Which is a shame, because we really believe there are some sound reasons why choosing a local business can actually be good for your own business.

Here are three of them:

1) You’ll benefit from easy access

As a time-pushed business owner, you don’t want to be trekking up to London to meet your accountant or getting on a plane to sit down with your marketing agency, right? Being able to get face-to-face with your suppliers quickly and easily is definitely a bonus of choosing a local business. It’s also better for the environment, whether you’re looking at your own transport or that of any goods being shipped. And in the case of document storage – our particular passion, in case you’d missed that – it’s an awful lot easier to access your files quickly if they’re nearby in the South West rather than up north somewhere.

2) You’ll build important networks

There’s nothing like a local business community. So many small businesses live and die by referrals they get from people they’ve met at local networking events, exhibitions, conferences and the like. By choosing to work with other small, local businesses, you’ll almost certainly find your services being used in return. It’s a symbiotic relationship that can only be good for the economy and for everybody’s bottom line.

3) You’ll discover great quality

Bigger doesn’t always mean better. Just because a company has fancy offices in London, New York and Singapore, doesn’t mean they’re actually going to produce work that’s of a better quality than Nearby & Sons down the road. Local businesses are often started by very passionate, very skilled people who genuinely want to help their clients and build something they can be proud of. There’s more accountability, more personal pride and often more attention to detail.

And of course, there’s the feel good factor of knowing that you’re contributing to the local economy, and stopping the world descending into a bland monopoly of faceless corporations. You can’t really beat that, can you?

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