By Elizabeth Grant, the Founder of Declutter On Demand.
Running a business can be exciting and fulfilling but it is also a lot of hard work. If you add disorganisation into the mix, it can really feel like an uphill battle. Having a decluttered and organised working environment (both physical and digital), enables you to run a successful business with your sanity intact!
1. Physical clutter at work
Covid-19 has meant a lot of changes to our physical work environments with offices and co-working spaces closing. For many of us, these changes are here to stay so we need to ensure they work for us. By creating a clear, calm and organised workspace for yourself, you can reduce feelings of stress and overwhelm, and run a successful business.
Decide where you work best in your home. Where can you be most free of distractions and noise? Consider how you will get away from your work at the end of the day. Can you close a physical door on your work? Or can you put your laptop and stationery away in a drawer or cupboard so it is off your kitchen table?
Only have items in your work area which you use frequently for work every day. For those things you only use now and again, store them nearby. Every item should have a specific place where it lives so you know exactly where to find it when you need it.
If you find paperwork builds up easily, work out where the bulk of it comes from. Consider whether there are ways to minimise this e.g. using digital filing systems. If you prefer to work with physical papers rather than digital, set aside time at the end of each week to deal with the backlog. Decide for every piece of paperwork whether it needs to be actioned, filed or discarded. Whether your filing system is a box file or a filing cabinet, make sure it is as user-friendly as possible so it is easy to find what you are looking for.
Avoid clutter building up on your workspace by spending a few minutes tidying it either at the start or end of the day. During the day, try to have a quick five minute clear-up of your desk before starting a new piece of work as this will clear your mind as well as your desk.
2. Managing digital distractions
The constant pinging of email and app notifications creates a lot of “noise” in the working day but can distract you from the tasks which are really going to create a successful business. These digital distractions absorb a lot of time and energy. Before you know it, the day has gone and you feel like you haven’t achieved anything.
Schedule specific times during the day to check your emails, messages and social media. If you have scheduled times throughout the day to check emails and messages, you don’t need to be notified every time something hits your inbox so turn those notifications off! This will help you to carve out time to concentrate on those tasks which really require your focused uninterrupted attention.
If you feel overwhelmed by your emails, unsubscribe from any newsletters and promotional emails that you don’t need. If you have a team, make sure you are not getting copied into unnecessary email chains. Only keep the last email in the chain and delete the rest. Use your email provider’s software to your advantage by creating folders and asking it to automatically file emails for you.
Create an ‘action' mailbox which just contains emails which require some action on your part so these don’t get lost amongst your other emails.
For digital files, take time to set up organisational systems which work for you. Create labelled folders for wide categories e.g. finances, marketing, legal etc. Under each of these folders, you can create sub-folders. For example, within your marketing folder you could have folders labelled ‘social media’, ‘PR’ etc. Take that extra 30 seconds to label your files accurately so you can find them again. This will save you valuable time in the future!
3. To-do lists
It’s important to have clear goals in order to know what a successful business looks like for you so you can measure where you are in that journey.
At the start of each week make a list of the three goals you want to achieve that week. Then break those goals down into smaller tasks with the three most important things for you to action each day.
Look at that list every time you start a new task to check whether it is really helping you achieve your goals for moving your successful business forward.
Most people would agree that the satisfying part of a to-do list is crossing things off. However, sometime we forget to celebrate how much we have actually achieved at the end of each day. Take a moment to congratulate yourself on your completed items - this is your “ta-da!” list.
4. Streamlining systems and processes
In order to run a successful business, it’s worth taking the time to look into different systems and processes to organise and automate your workload. Consider what pain-points currently exist in your business. What is eating up your time without much reward?
Keeping customer data organised can be greatly helped by using a CRM system such as Salesforce or Insightly. You can use it to build customer relationships and streamline processes. Bookkeeping software e.g. QuickBooks or Xero can also work with your CRM system and speed up invoicing.
When it comes to marketing, don’t forget that social media posts can be batch scheduled and automated to post at certain times so you don’t have to remember to post every day.
5. Looking after yourself
To be the founder of a successful business, your health and wellbeing are paramount. Scientific research shows that clutter and disorganisation affects both our mental health and physical health. It increases our stress levels throughout the day which can lead to poor sleep, over-eating, and low mood.
If you have business decisions to make which you are putting off, decluttering and organising your space can unblock you. It does so because it involves making many small (and relatively unimportant) decisions about what to keep and what to let go of based on what holds value to you. The more you practise this with smaller decisions, the easier it becomes to make the big decisions, for example, in relation to the direction of your business.
If you suffer from poor sleep or never wake up feeling refreshed, take time to remove clutter from your bedroom, including digital devices. Then organise this room to optimise it for a good night’s sleep. For example, have only the essentials for sleep in your bedside drawers rather than collections of miscellaneous items.
Visual disorganisation around you can result in you feeling overwhelmed and losing focus. The reason for this is that there are just too many things competing for your attention. Reducing this visual clutter will help you to concentrate better and prioritise tasks for your business.
Organising for a successful business
Organising has a positive impact on all parts of our lives. It is not just about having a neat space to work in. Organising helps sleep, memory, productivity, mental and physical health. All of these are vital for any founder to run a successful business. It helps you to protect your time and energy and enables you to focus on those actions which will have the most impact for your business.
About Elizabeth (Lizzie) Grant
Following the overwhelming success of her organising and decluttering business, Simplify Stuff, Lizzie Grant, an Oxford University graduate set up the booking platform Declutter on Demand. Being in the fortunate position of over demand for her services, Lizzie who from a young age was always fascinated with organising, created the site is for people to find and book a professional organiser with ease.
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