The clockwork farm office


By Kat Bevan

Few things are as frustrating as the missing piece of paper. Patience is tested and countless hours can be wasted tracking down information that ought to be right where we left it. Being human, means our memory will often play tricks on us and let us down. Where we think something should be is often not where we can find it. Less stress and running around is the goal to help you feel more in control of your office and the business you run. 

Everyone can help in making life a little easier at the desk. The first thing is to control the paper and not let it control you.  Piles of paper mounted up high is not going to help anyone.

You can start by placing received invoices/statements, into an unpaid tray or file.  Having them in a safe place will ensure they don’t get missed or muddled up where they shouldn’t be.

When making payments always write a date, reference, bank account and payment date on the invoice or statement, because this will help later when it comes to inputting your data and claiming back VAT (particularly for single entry systems).

All receivables and paid paperwork should go into a paid tray or file ready for inputting into your accounts program, along with all relevant cheque books, paying in books and up to date bank statements. 

You may choose to separate income and sale invoices too, giving you even more control of where you can find relative paperwork.  If you are operating more than one bank account, these bank statements benefit from their own files. 

Lastly, once all information has been inputted then entered paperwork should preferably be filed in alphabetical order (A-Z). Making finding historic invoices/statements a breeze.

Paperwork aside, if you are lucky enough to have an office, this can always benefit from a tidy up.  Aim to have clearly labelled files, to empty bins, stationary to hand and a free space to put your cup of tea and cake. Sometimes it’s really hard to throw stuff away but be honest with yourself. If that old Farmers Weekly, brochure, or newsletter hasn’t been touched in the last twelve months it is probably time to throw it away as it is highly unlikely ever to be looked at again. Files can take up a lot of space so storing them away sensibly is most important, especially as it is still a requirement for you to keep your accounts for a minimum of 7 years.

It’s not just paperwork that needs to be spruced up, computers need cleaning and backing up as well to use data to its full potential and prevent it being lost.  Knowing where your files are on your computer always helps, so use sensible file names and archive any old or unwanted files if you wish.  Always take a backup of your data, use the cloud or buy a cheap back up drive. Hard drives fail all the time and it is incredibly frustrating to lose data.

With all work backed up and your office supremely well organised, how else are you going to spend your day?  Time management is vital to getting the most out of your busy schedule and everyone has their own way of making the most of the finite hours available.  A computer based calendar is a great way to do this as you can keep it with you on your mobile phone and be available to the other members of your team in the office or on the farm. 

If you would like any assistance with your office duties, why not take a break and contact your local Farm Business Analyst for help and support.