Over time, every business starts to get stuck in its ways. Perhaps it’s time to KonMari style your business life.
By Laura Gayle, Business Woman Guide
Spring is in the air, bringing buzzing bees, chirping birds, and blossoming flowers. For many, it’s a time of hope and a promise for a better tomorrow. Traditionally, this also the season for spring cleaning. Folks clear out their homes, ridding the closets and drawers of unwanted and unused items, clearing space for fresh, new possibilities.
With the recent release of “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” viewers across the globe are springing into action, having been inspired to declutter their homes and pave the path for greater happiness and increased productivity. With the average American spending more than 90,000 hours at work over the course of their lifetime, it only makes sense that we should translate this “tidying up” mindset to our work environments, as well.
Consider your workspace: What items do you use every day? Which ones are simply adding to the clutter? Which processes work best for you, and which could use some tidying up? Perhaps it’s time to Kondo your business life.
Your desk is, in essence, your home base. It’s where the magic happens and is truly critical for overall success. Look around you. Do you see chaos? Is everything neat on the surface, but cluttered when you dig deeper? Before clearing out the rest of your physical space, it’s important to get your desk in order. To begin decluttering, take everything out of your desk and ask yourself these questions about each item:
- Do you use it? How often?
- If you haven’t used it, do you plan to use it soon? When?
- Does it spark joy, or is it at least useful daily?
Separate items into piles to keep and discard, based on your answers to those questions. Then arrange all the items you’ve kept into logical, easy-to-access places in your desk. Following this method, you can clear out the clutter and distractions, leaving only the items that can help improve your creativity and productivity.
Your office space also should be streamlined and open, free of anything that doesn’t add value. If you’re short on space but still have quite a few items you would like to use, a small storage space can be an excellent solution for compartmentalizing seasonal inventory or items used only cyclically (say, at annual meeting or conference time).
Keep in mind that workspace functionality and appeal don’t just affect you; they influence visitors, as well. Meeting spaces and entry points should be open and inviting to encourage positive interactions whenever possible. As you downsize, organize. Be sure to group similar items together and keep everything your team might need for a project out in the open and visible.
It also helps to get creative with your space, making every square inch count. Useless, incomplete, or cluttered areas stifle joy and creativity, rather than sparking it. If there are any “dead” areas that don’t add value around the office, consider updating them into useful spaces for meetings or brainstorming.
Your Digital Environment
Your digital space is just as important as the physical one. While it’s easier to push aside all that digital clutter, it still contributes to your mental chaos for several hours every day. Dedicate a chunk of time to going through your computer desktop and files, as well as your email.
- Check your email inbox. Is it overflowing and difficult to find what you need? Go through your queue one by one and trash all the correspondence that’s not useful.
- For all the emails left, create folders with appropriate categories and subcategories, and file each email in the appropriate folder. When you’re done, all that should be left in your inbox are emails that are currently relevant.
- For future reference, think about how much spam you receive. Unsubscribing from all unnecessary newsletters and updates will help pare down the number of emails you get.
- Next, move on to your desktop. Is it filled with loose files scattered willy nilly? Begin by discarding downloads, files, documents, videos, music, and photos that are simply taking up space with no purpose.
- Next, declutter the files you have left by creating a filing system, with files and subfiles for any projects, daily routines, or action items. Separate each file into its appropriate folder, then arrange the folders logically on your desktop.
- How about past and present projects? First, separate files for completed projects into their own folders, so you can refer to them again if necessary. Keep current projects in their own folders on your desktop, and try to standardize the elements that show up across all these folders. This will help you easily recognize what is missing from each project, filling in the gaps for greater success.
Your Business Practices
Over time, every business starts to get stuck in its ways. Business processes and tools become rote, and then antiquated, sometimes taking double the time that’s necessary. Try to look at your methods with a fresh eye: What processes are in need of an overhaul? How many of them are merely a matter of convention or habit? Are there new innovations that could be introduced that would ultimately save your company time and money?
- Examine your business practices, inviting several perspectives. Collaborate with your team to make sure that procedures and routines are logical to garner success and create actionable results.
- Form a system that includes checklists to ensure that projects stay on track, and nothing slips through the cracks.
- Alleviate the stress of completing unavoidable tasks by investing in powerful yet affordable business tools. Automate as much as possible. For example, self-employed business owners can use apps to track expenses throughout the year. A free tax calculator can help remain on track with what you owe each quarter.
- When preparing for a major networking event such as a conference or trade show, give yourself ample time for planning. A trade show checklist can lessen the stress, making the preparation process fun and achievable, and making sure nothing important slips through the cracks.
- Communicate with your team and put all expectations in writing. This keeps everyone on the same page and helps each individual understand exactly what is expected of them.
- Keep it positive. Find creative and repeatable ways to thank your partners and team members for their hard work.
Your Big Picture
Once the clutter is cleared away, you can really start to focus on what’s important: What is it you’re trying to accomplish professionally? What are you currently investing your time and energy into? Which goals and ideas spark the joy that Marie Kondo talks about? What inspires you to take your profession to the next level? Consider the following elements when you start thinking of your work in terms of the big picture:
- Consider what image your business is projecting. Does it align with your original goals, and with the staff’s talents? Identify places where things might have gotten sidetracked and either correct course or integrate a new path that might work better.
- More often than not, simpler is better. We often get bogged down working on side projects that keep us away from what we really want to accomplish. Take the business back to the basics, focusing on the skills and procedures that help it excel.
- Give yourself some goals and a timeline. For example: Within two months, you’ll refer three underperforming clients to another firm, or perhaps revamp your marketing strategies to better represent your mission statement and company culture.
Within all these pearls of wisdom is a central theme of simplifying your space, your procedures, your thinking, and your life. Eliminating the extemporaneous and focusing on strengths and positive forces is great advice for both the office and the household.
Find your strengths and positive attributes, and make a point of accentuating these beneficial features. Let go of those items, procedures, and mindsets which only hold limited sentimental value and don’t propel your work forward. We tend to cling to certain things before we leap to new and exciting futures. Don’t let that baggage clutter your path or deter your progress!