13 Oct 10

Decluttering Your Life to Improve Your Business

Sometimes it can be difficult to focus and actually make progress getting work done when your life and business are swamped with too much clutter and distraction.  When your mind is clear and your thoughts are organized, your performance and productivity will inevitably skyrocket.  With that said, here are a few goals you can set to make more progress and achieve results:

Clean Your Workspace: Oftentimes I can’t get any work done until I have a clean workspace.  Just like in college when I would need to study for a test, I would find any excuse in the book to avoid it, like laundry, dishes, or washing the windows.  If you lessen the distractions by keeping a clean workspace, you’ll find fewer excuses for avoiding your work.

Streamline Your Processes: If possible, do things in bulk to save yourself time in the long run.  Things like creating product tags or waiting until you have several products to photograph before you break out your camera will save you time rather than doing them on a one off basis.

Create a To-Do List: Aggregate your “To-Do’s” into a list.  Then, when and if you have free time, you’ll have a reference point for what you need to tackle first.

Clean Out Your Email Inbox: Organize your emails into folders and maintain a clean inbox.  If you need a jump start in order to tackle this project, read Getting Things Done by David Allen, he will fully equip you with the tools and inspiration you need to get organized to increase your productivity.

Delegate: If there are tasks that can be completed by other trusted individuals for free or for a minimal fee, ask for help.

Shut Off Your Social Networks For a Day: If you’re falling behind, consider taking a brief vacation from Twitter and Facebook.  It’s amazing how much time can be spent on social networking if you don’t have a strategy or discipline for limiting their usage.

Make a Binder: Keep your life and your business organized.  Prepare a binder with all your pertinent business documentation.  Every sale and shipment should be recorded in that binder, along with every bank statement, receipt and document needed to file your taxes.  Your binder will become your life line when tax season comes.  It will save you hours on end that would otherwise be spent tracking down all the documentation you need.

Determine Which Activities are Wasting Your Time & Stop Doing Them: Assess the activities in your regular routine that are a waste of time and cut them out of your routine.  Focusing on the activities that are beneficial to your business and avoiding the excess activities will help you actually get things done.

What other routines should be adopted to help us all achieve more productivity with less stress?

Main image courtesy of tomas carrillo.

Posted by: Courtney Dirks

Posted in: business management

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1 Paula commented on 10/13/2010

Great tips Courtney, thankyou for sharing them. I find another great tip that works for me, since I can be so easily distracted is my 2 minute rule and to do box. Read these in a book, can't remember where but basically, I keep a to do box and when things come up that tend to distract me but must be done, if I can accomplish them in 2 minutes (like an email maybe) then I do them right away. If they will take longer...they go into the to do box for when I have more time. This helps me stay on task and be more productive:)

2 Holly Neitzel - Accounting SPOT commented on 10/13/2010

Oh Courtney! This is a great post. So many things hit home with me :)
The picture of the simple work space makes me drool in AWE of it. Also, I am a HUGE binder organizer. I love that tip. AND, taking a day off of social networking is the number one way for me to get some billable work done.
Thanks for another great post!

3 Jennifer Schulting commented on 10/21/2010

I just completed #1. You hit every point on the nail. Where you in my dream of when I was planning how to do this with my own office? Great article and may I make a suggestion. When I have several items on my agenda I use an egg timer. Yes, an egg timer. Set it for around 20-30 minutes and work on one task. You'd be surprised to see how much you can get done, knowing time is ticking, literally. I'm more successful with tasks this way than with a whole day off and no game plan.

4 Courtney Dirks commented on 10/22/2010

Thank you Paula, Holly, & Jennifer for your amazing comments. This morning I cleaned up my work space and reminisced about this article as I was tidying up!

Paula - I love your idea of a 2 minute drill. I think if you free your mind of the quick tasks it helps you really focus on the big stuff.

Holly - I need to buy a new bookcase for all my binders! It's getting out of control, but they keep my entire life organized!

Jennifer - I love that you use an egg timer for your tasks! I used to set my Outlook reminder in 15 minute increments to serve that purpose, then I came across http://e.ggtimer.com/ which will allow you to set a countdown for whatever time you would like! You should check it out. :)

5 Wei-yen Tan commented on 03/10/2011

In terms of a binder. I heavily depend on Evernote.

I can scan in documents, clip web pages, input photos. I can bring in all these types of notes from the major phones on the market too.

I can get access to my notes wherever there is Internet, this means away from the office!

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