Finance Small Business How to de-clutter your work life in just one week
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How to de-clutter your work life in just one week

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I like to do an occasional de-clutter.  Not just of house paraphernalia but also of things that are taking up space in my business. Mostly these things take up time and they’re tasks that I’ve got into the habit of doing even though they are no longer very useful.

A complete business overhaul is a bit overwhelming – and quite frankly never gets done – but I’ve found that getting rid of one thing a day for a week is very doable and fun.

Here’s how to do it:

Monday – Marketing

Today, think about all the stuff you do that falls under marketing. Not sure if something counts as marketing or not? Well, try this. Pop everything you do into one of three buckets:

1. The Product Bucket (making the product or delivering the service);

2. The Marketing  Bucket (anything to do with finding new customers or looking after existing ones); or

3. The Admin Bucket  (everything else).

Make a list of everything in your “marketing” bucket. Now look down that list and find one thing that doesn’t really seem to add anything to your business.

We all have marketing stuff that we dutifully do because someone, somewhere said it’s a good thing to do. Maybe it worked for them, but if you’re busy doing stuff that doesn’t seem to be helping your business, quit now and do something else in its place.

Tuesday – Product

Tuesday is product day so think about all the tasks that are in your product bucket. There are probably too many to write down individually, so instead write down the different parts that go into creating and making your product (or service).

For instance, you could have headings like “ordering new stock” and “packaging and sending”.

Now think about each part and look for one step that you could do without.

I know this sounds unlikely – after all, why would you do stuff that doesn’t need doing?! Well, as our businesses grow we add stuff in haphazardly. If you were to start your business again, right now, you’d probably do some of the routine stuff a little differently. So today you’re going to look for just one of those little routine things and stop doing it.

Wednesday – Admin

Wednesday is admin – and isn’t there a lot of it? Do the same thing for your admin tasks as you did for marketing and product.

Write down (or think about) all of the admin things you do. Is there one thing you could stop doing?

It could be as simple as, say, not printing out and filing purchase invoices because you can keep digital copies instead.

Thursday – Customers

This one is very freeing, but kind of feels hard to do.

Have you got an unpleasant customer?

If you have, today is the day you decide to let her go.

Seriously, unpleasant customers are very draining and they take time away from your lovely loyal customers. Yes, I know, customers are hard to come by. Why would you want to turn one away?  Trust me here. You will feel great if you just stop working for the one customer that causes you the most grief. Plus you’ll love having the extra energy to pour into your other customers, or into finding new ones.

Friday – Email

You’ve done four tough days of stripping stuff out. Today is easy. It’s about getting rid of something in your email inbox.

Again, we’re really only looking for one  thing to delete – but because today is so straightforward, you might want to get rid of way more.

So what are you going to do? Well, just look at all the emails you get from mailing lists and unsubscribe from at least one. All that clutter in your inbox distracts you from the important stuff and I’m sure you’ve got at least one thing in there you can live without.

Saturday – business “friends”

Through my business I’ve made some fabulous “business friends”. But I’ve also met a few who are very draining.

For years, I thought I needed to do the right thing and answer all their emails and phone calls and generally be there for them. Then one day, I’d had enough and (gently) removed someone from my “circle”. Oh goodness, it worked a treat – I felt totally freed up!

So today, if you’re connected to someone who drains you of time or energy, delete them.

Sunday – your workspace

Finally, a declutter in the ‘traditional’ sense. if you’re a bit of a hoarder of work-related stuff, pick one thing to get rid of. It might be a type of thing rather than just one item.  I recently got rid of a stack of business magazines after I finally admitted to myself I was never going to read them.

This article first appeared on the The Business Bakery blog.

Julia Bickerstaff advises small businesses through her consultancy The Business Bakery and is the author of How to Bake a Business.