How to Declutter Your Business
You look around your office and all you see are piles of papers, books, files and colorful stationary supplies destined for some future project.
Your computer desktop looks like a field of golf balls at the driving range – miscellaneous documents to be read or tinkered with.
And once you enter your web browser… forget it. You are led off in every direction being called to sites and social media like the Sirens luring sailors by their sweet sounds and inviting music only to crash into the rocks.
I truly believed a cluttered space creates a cluttered mind.
I know Albert Einstein would disagree…
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
I think he may have been justifying his super messy surroundings or simply giving us some food for thought.
But for us non-genius types, the more organized and clutter-free we are the more we’re able to work efficiently, effectively and with less distractions.
Here are 10 tips for decluttering your business and create more space for what’s next!
1 | Papers
Look around your desk. Are there papers in piles waiting to have something done to them?
Bring all the stacks together that are on or surround your desk. Yep, skip the multi-stacks and let’s go through the pile one document at a time.
Take each piece of paper and do something with it:
I would venture to say that most paper could be tossed in the recycling. Or reused as printer paper in your printer or kept for your kids’ art projects. (Keep it to a minimum though because you don’t want to just create another pile of clutter).
Don’t create files for the sake of filing away papers. I’ve been guilty of creating files and when I later open it up there is one sheet of paper in there. Be thoughtful in your filing system and only keep what you absolutely need to keep.
The send items are the Thanks You notes you’ve been meaning to write, the bills that need to be paid, the receipts to items that need to be returned. These things are lingering and need to be taken care of so you can move forward.
2 | Files
Speaking of files, pull out ALL your files. Sounds daunting right? Every time I move, I end up being confronted with a boat-load of files that I completely forgot about and have no use for. They’re out of sight so clearly way out of mind. Just because they’re hidden doesn’t make it not clutter!
You know the files: old project, notes from a webinar, downloaded cheat sheets from random sites you’ve come across, statements from credit cards, instructions for random office items and so much more.
Regarding banking statements, you don’t need them! You can get everything online. Do yourself a favor and go paperless with your statements then you don’t have to worry about it ever showing up in the first place to create clutter.
After you pull out all your files, go through and see what can be recycled (and I don’t mean recycle it by putting it in a new folder or consolidating folders). Get rid of it.
Reuse your folders by buying new tabs.
3 | Online Files
We often overlook our online files unless our computer begins to dramatically slow down.
Physical file folders take up space in your office and home, but online files can accumulate on your hard drive, cloud or Dropbox.
This may take a bit of time but go through your online files and delete records and folders that you no longer need. Dump duplicates, old versions of documents, images you’ve downloaded for specific projects, opt-in freebies that are outdated, documents other people have sent, and so on.
4 | Priorities
This one gets people into a lot of hot water and a lot of excess clutter. What do you most value in your life. Family? Spirituality? Health? Friendship? Work? Take a minute and write 1-5 on a piece of paper and rank your priorities.
Since we’re talking about work in this article, also a few more minutes and rank the top 5 priorities in your business. Keep this list in plain site and refer to it often when new projects or more clutter and noise enters your life.
5 | Projects
Do you have projects that seem to go on forever? They linger like the smell of that baked salmon you made 2 nights ago. Ask yourself, is it because there is something at the core that you’re resisting or do you simply have lost your enthusiasm for it?
Pull all the files together and determine what’s next. Either schedule it, archive it or dump it altogether. Lingering projects pull down our energy and distract us from more important task and more exciting projects.
6 | People
This one gets me push back because it sounds cruel from the outside. But what people, social situations, groups you belong to that are taking up too much of your time and you’re not deriving anything from? Belong to a networking group that you haven’t been to a meeting in 6 months. Perhaps it’s time to drop it. Have a colleague that drains you every time you’re together. Create some distance. People underestimate the emotional toll and energetic drain that relationships can create on themselves.
7 | Expenses
Go to your accounts and review all your expenses.
Are you paying for a service you barely use? Have you mistakenly purchased something that you didn’t mean to or something you bought that you don’t use and could return? We often get excited about a new membership or software only to realize that you’ve never used it. Dump it.
8 | Social Media/Email
How many alerts and notifications do you think you’re getting each day?
Probably way too many.
Every time a beep goes off, an email is delivered in your inbox, an alert rings on your phone, you lose focus on what you’re working on. It takes a significant amount of time to get that focus back (let alone the wasted time checking what it was which we all know is usually nothing importation).
Curb those beeps and alerts.
When it comes to email, I don’t think zero inbox is remotely realistic but make sure that you do use the tabs and folders in Gmail to keep yourself more organized. Boomerang is a great service to help keep you on top of things.
9 | Calendar
Pull up your calendars. Yes plural because often we have multiple calendars going because of family obligations. Take a critical look at it and reflect if your calendar feels expansive and exciting or oppressive and constricting. Are you committed to a lot of activities that don’t fuel you?
Do you have standing appointments that don’t have the same verve they had when you first starting going? This can be an exercise class, a community organization, or a standing date for coffee with a mentor. What can be limited, cleared or reworked to create more space for what feels more expansive.
10 | Beliefs
We all have the mental chatter and disempowering mean talk that swirls in our head.
These beliefs and past stories about who we are and what we’re capable of have a sneaky way of holding us back from our greatness.
Take a bit of time and begin to write down all your boldest goals. As you do, listen to what the voices in your head are saying. Are you supporting you or stumbling you up.
Rewrite your beliefs – the ones you really truly would love to have – next to the goals. Post this in your work area as a reminder of the new beliefs you want to hold that go along with those awesome dreams.
As you go through the suggestions listed a good question to ask yourself came from my own Feng Shui instructor and mentor:
“Do I love, need or have to have this?”
If the answer is no… it’s time to let it go.
Declutter and giving your work space a good Spring clean isn’t just something that’s nice to do when you have some free time.
It is vitally important to get rid of things that energetically hold you back, confuse your direction or simply overwhelm you from making the positive impact in the world.
If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed, it’s time to dump the old so you can welcome in the new.
Decluttering creates space. That’s what I love about it so much.
It creates the space for you to think and explore.
It creates space for new opportunities to enter and for new relationships to blossom.
It creates the space to move ever forward towards the business and life you desire.
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