Last week I nearly broke my back clearing out the dreaded attic! I couldn’t believe the stuff I had saved for a rainy day’ and never needed again. I threw them all down the ladder without thinking. Then tripped near the bottom as I tried to navigate the mountain of stuff that had piled up as I threw.
Clearing out once in a while can be really beneficial and I’ve been very interested in practising minimalism (not extreme though. A white box and a mat to sleep on does not appeal)
It got me thinking, like in our lives, our businesses can become cluttered too. I have a client who cannot find anything on her PC because everything is on the desktop and in a complete muddle! Not easy, or efficient for running a business.
So my fellow sole-traders and self-employed friends. During the Coronavirus lockdown, I challenge you to de-clutter your business with this ultimate guide. Beware, it won’t always be easy but, when you return to your work, you will be able to think clearly and hit the ground running to get ahead when life returns to normal (or near to normal). If, for you, there is a lot to do I recommend you just chose one thing and do it, whenever you get a spare 20 minutes.
Try it for one week. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just make a start. Take small steps and eventually, big changes will have happened.
TIPS BEFORE YOU START:
- Remember you have a choice about how you feel. Choose to enjoy the experience. Picture how elated you will be when things are running smoothly and are easy to find.
- Take some time to visualise and get clarity on how you want things to be when you have completed your declutter.
- Do one small thing at a time. Break it down into easy to manage chunks.
- Are you disorganised or cluttered? Organise the things you need to keep sure, but learn to get rid of (declutter) the things you do not need anymore.
- Some business owners hang on to every piece of documentation just in case their need to legally keep it. Get some advice on what you must save so you can be confident in your decluttering.
- Are you unsure whether to keep something (and its not something you legally need to keep)? Decide whether it is functional or whether you have a feeling attached to it. Often in business function if better than sentiment here.
- Create an efficient system and categorise things together logically.
- Do NOT buy anything new (such as boxes or drawers) until you have finished. You may not need them, after all. Its a mindset.
- Remember self-care. These things can be tough to do, and you need to take your time to do them well.
- Invest in the best paper shredder you can afford if you don’t already have one. And get a hamster (optional) hamsters love shredded paper as a bed 😉
Why you might need to declutter:
- You dread sitting at your desk
- You save something on your computer and then can never find it again☞ Is chaos getting in the way of your business growth and your creativity?
- There’s hundreds of unread emails and spam sitting in your inbox
- You run out of money before the end of the month and need to make savings
- There are one or more customers that you hope don’t call as you dread dealing with them
Put Aside Time to Do a bit of this each week. It’s an ongoing process. Do you want to spend 5-15 minutes a day for several days or tackle it all? Just do it, you will feel loads better.
1. How to decide what to declutter…
Here are a few things you could ask yourself to help
- Is it in in-line with my branding currently?
- Have I needed it in the last six months/Year?
- Is it serving a useful purpose?
- Is it making money?
- >Is it too difficult for me to learn to use?
You don’t have to delete or put everything in the rubbish necessarily. But do you need it? Could you get rid of more, or at least archive stuff?
2. Feeling Overwhelmed?
If this is a new thing for you or you have gotten behind its essential to take your time and have regular breaks. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your brain can only carry six critical pieces of information in it at one time, and then it loses its ability to work at its best. When your brain is overloaded, you will become tired, unmotivated and easily distracted. Ever had a big deadline but can’t leave the Facebook feed alone? My advice on this comes from the Dalai Lama. When asked about finding time for meditation, he advised that if you are too busy to find 10 minutes to meditate then its best to do it for 20 instead! I highly recommend meditation.
3. Why is decluttering important?
Humans, in general work more efficiently when they have clarity. Its that simple. Transparency means less stress and more productivity. When you are overloaded, it’s easy for your work to fail and your attempts to promote yourself to become diluted. Busy does not equal success. You never know what’s around the corner that might make you even busier. Sickness, Christmas, Children….could you find space for more if you needed it? Treasure your spare time and keep it simple. Learn to part with your clutter If you learn to part with the weight of your clutter, big rewards are waiting for you on the other side. As a result, you will feel liberated, freed from the heaviness of the stagnant energy that clung to your space. There is joy and a sense of freedom that you can feel when you are up to date with your stuff.
4. Could You Outsource?
If you can afford it, getting or paying someone else to d these jobs for you can safe a lot. It seems like more work at the beginning while you show someone what you need but, once they have got the hang of it, things will be much easier. Small business owners commonly hire contractors for positions such as marketing, graphic design, HR, accounting and book-keeping. Often it’s cheaper to outsource compared to hiring ane employee. Particularly useful jobs to outsource are your book-keeping and social media scheduling. So what things could you declutter?
5. Declutter Your Brain
Filling your head with too much to remember can leave you confused. If you’ve got ideas floating around all the time, it can be tiring. If you can think ‘less is more’ it will enable your thought process to be more precise. So how do you do this? Grab some paper and a pen and write down all the thoughts and ideas you have. In any rode, just chuck it all out there onto the page. Then rank them in order of importance. You can do this with a technique called mind mapping, which is a process that allows you to organise all your thoughts visually in diagrams. Keep a notebook to regularly brain-dump to keep your ideas prioritised and fresh in your mind.
6. Declutter your calendar
Have you got reminders, notifications and appointments in your diary for things that you don’t need now? Are there reminders that you often just ignore or close without viewing? Maybe they are doing more harm than good in distracting you? It is especially important if you manage more than one calendar.
- Remove any events and repeating events that you no longer need.
- Delete reminders that don’t serve you
- If there are any tasks that you do need to remember regularly keep could you group them all in one weekly reminder?
Then use this instead and update your availability on your calendar as you go.
7. Tidy Your Marketing
If you have funnels that aren’t serving you remove them. Keeping things simple can help you avoid having more ‘opt-ins’ than you need and can avoid confusing your customers. Assess what has and hasn’t been working in your marketing. Perhaps you have old email opt-ins that are ineffective or don’t function well. Lose old tactics and systems that don’t do your business any good. Update social media images on all your profiles. If you’ve changed any of your services, make sure your marketing now reflects that in every place.
8. Declutter your email lists
If you send email marketing (and why wouldn’t you?), you need to keep your lists relevant and clean. Ensure anyone who unsubscribes is archived and try and tag or segment your list for future campaigns.
9. Fine-tune your money
Are you paying for subscriptions you no longer use? Do you tend to buy things you think you need that maybe you should think twice about (I used to be addicted to online trading courses)? Ask yourself:
- Do I know how many subscriptions I have?
- Do I know how much they total each month?
- Do I use each one of them and they help my business?
Could you consolidate some of your business expenses by using an all-in-one service or asking a book-keeper to take on some more tasks? Consider what has and hasn’t been working so you can save yourself both money and time.
10. Screen your expenses
Regularly look at your business outgoings and consider where you could cut things. Some vendors have subscriptions services that you can leave and re-join as you want.
11. Declutter Your Email Inbox
Your inbox should be decluttered regularly. If it gets too cluttered, it could take hours to straighten everything out. Try creating different folders for clients and projects. When new messages come in, check them, respond, and file them away. Create rules, so Junk mail and spam get deleted daily. Messages that are attached to a completed task (and are no longer needed) can also be deleted. Emails with information you need to hold legally (such as invoices and contacts) download to another device such as a hard drive. That way you can keep the record in a more secure place. Unsubscribe to email lists that you don’t want. If they come from a source, you don’t remember signing up to, treat them as junk instead. Never click a link (even an unsubscribe link) in an email you don’t recognise. As a general rule of thumb: If ended up never opening any newsletters from a sender, then unsubscribe. Start to purge your subscriptions rigorously. Instead, try Feedly or something similar.
12. Declutter Your Physical Space
Take a look at the physical space around you and determine what you still need and what you don’t. Do you need lots of pens in the drawer of your desk? It might seem more efficient to buy in bulk, but sometimes it can cause stress by cluttering your space. If you have lists/ reminders/ sticky notes in notebooks and scraps of paper over your desk, then it’s time to declutter. Reduce how many smaller notes you have. Notebooks: (Not journals). If you use notebooks, go through them when they’re full. Digitise ideas worth keeping and shred the rest File, ditch, and declutter anything floating around or is old. These items that you see every day eventually lose their meaning and become ‘part of the furniture and therefore, no longer useful.
Decluttering these items can help with productivity and put you in the best headspace each day.
Use an efficient filing system to store physical copies you need to keep.
Make it feel homely. A plant or fresh flowers can liven up your workspace and give it a lift.
13. Declutter your computer and devices
Downloads: Saving all of your downloads into your downloads folder is a recipe for disaster. It all get’s bundled into the same folder and needs a home (or the bin). Digitise your records Having digital records instead of paper ones offers many benefits, including:
- More secure.
- Less cluttered
- Easier to find things.
It may seem like much effort to scan and transfer all your files onto your computer or cloud. Still, once over this process, it’s much easier to maintain. Having your records stored digitally can help if you get an audit or inspection. The inspector may request documents in a PDF format. If you’ve already scanned your files, this takes one step out of the stressful process.
Declutter your browser tabs – utilise your book-marking instead.
Do you have lots of tabs open or have the same tabs open every time ‘just in case’? Many open tabs slow down your browser and your computer. Instead bookmark websites you might want to refer back to and organise them into folders if you have a lot of them (or different categories). Declutter your computer’s Files Chances are there’s many files, downloads, blurry photos or out of date documents and projects that do not need to be using precious memory space. Keeping these in check can make your computer work more efficiently too. If you are afraid of deleting anything you might need later, create a folder and mark it ‘not sure’. Anything in three you haven’t needed six months later, delete (unless legally required to keep) Check your phone, laptop AND tablet for apps you don’t use and delete those too. Give your digital files a proper home If you can no longer see the background image on your desktop, phone or tablet, its time for a declutter. Create some folders and organise your apps and files. File your digital files in the same Manne you file your paperwork. If you file your paperwork by category, create a folder on your computer for each category and save the files there.
14. Declutter goals and projects
Review goals and throw out those that you’ve been carrying around for a while. If you’ve had goals on a list for a long time and still have not met them. It might be time to re-set a couple of more achievable objectives. Maybe the goal isn’t relevant anymore, perhaps you’ve moved on? Don’t waste time and energy on irrelevant goals. If needed, just have one or two smaller goals. You can work on one better than setting yourself up for failure. One at a time, instead of all at once has more chance of success.
15. Social Media
Social Media, for many many people, is a significant source of information overload. It is not necessary to be on each social platform to be successful. Think very carefully and do some research about where your ideal clients might hang out (and if they would like you to sell to them there). Chose those that will bring you, clients. Adding more and more to social media leads to overwhelm, dilutes the message and puts you under unnecessary pressure.
Start by purging Yourself From Social Media Groups
Social media groups can be a great way to connect. However, too much of anything can become harmful. If you’re in lots of online forums and groups, you probably aren’t interacting much or not getting any value out of it. Remove yourself from groups you don’t participate. Also, do this with any groups that don’t align with your business or current goals anymore. Be fully present in a handful of groups rather than join a ton of groups without participating. Make sure that you can be:
- useful when posting in a business-related group
- getting a few notifications rather than loads
- reducing the amount of time spent engrossed in the social media world
Declutter your Instagram Hashtags
You may only have 30, but, are you using the best ones? Could you find some better ones?
Declutter your Youtube Channel, and subscriptions
Organise your videos into playlists. Thus customising the experience for people who are binging on your videos. Check your subscription list. Could you unsubscribe some that you no longer watch?
If there are podcast subscriptions that you just don’t listen to anymore, then unsubscribe and create space for new ones.
16. Blog posts
If you’ve been writing blogs for a while, Google can likely tell you some great info on the posts that are viewed more often. Keep these and review them. Could that do with an update or refresh? Are there any posts you can delete, or better still jazz up and repurpose with better keywords?
Your systems and processes
A good system is one that works even if you’re under pressure. If you have systems with too many choices and steps, chances are they are unusable and complicated. Can they be simplified, broken into smaller workflows or outsourced?
17. Your clients.
Onboarding process: Make it as easy as possible for your clients to work with you, but make sure it’s easy for you too. Too many emails, links and steps make mistakes with precious clients all the more likely. Focus on as few steps as possible between a client saying hell-yeah, and them going on to book and pay. Screen your clients This is a hard one, but it could have an incredibly positive effect. Do you enjoy working with all of your clients? Or are there some you wish had never found you? Come up with a strategy on how to replace the clients that no longer fit with you or your brand. It may sound awful, but it is actually in your and their best interest. If you don’t enjoy working with these clients, chances are you will not do your best, may fall behind deadlines or make mistakes. Unhappy clients are not great for your reputation. So, find a gentle way to get rid of them and make room for clients that you love.
18. Make Sure Everything is Up to Date
Review all aspects of your business to make sure that legalities are up to date.: Employee information
- Payroll, Pension and PAYE
- Employee personal details and contact details
Marketing, the Website, hosting contract and software
- Brochures & flyers
- Business cards
- Social media images, profiles and headers
Rates and prices
- Physical count inventory
- Rents and tenancy agreements
Client database/customer management system
- Email addresses
- all contact details
- Digital services
- professional bodies
So there you have it. The ultimate guide to de-cluttering your business. Comment below if you think you need to start to get more organised, streamlined and on-track in your business during the Coronaviru lockdown? Have you tried any of these methods before? Would you like a free tutorial on any of these methods? Let’s have an in-depth conversation about what you can do to improve the balance in your business and life. I’ll clock out an hour to really have a deep talk with you. firstname.lastname@example.org Claire xxxx