I don’t know about you but now that the temperatures rise, the sun is out and the first daffodils are blooming, it seems spring is just around the corner. I do get itchy feet to have a proper clear-out and declutter in my home and office. It’s equally important for your personal and business life and there’s proof that when your environment is cluttered, the chaos restricts your ability to focus. First, you’ll need to put some time aside as it’s not a 5-minute job. I’d recommend at the end of the week or month, depending on the number of tasks, give yourself a few hours to sit down and go through your paperwork, files, computer system and email inbox. It might seem too time-consuming or overwhelming at first, but you’ll feel so much more productive in a clean and tidy workspace and in the knowledge all your systems and processes are up-to-date. You’ll have renewed energy and headspace for new ideas and goals.
Here are my 7 tips how to declutter your workspace, organise your emails and update your technology and processes;
1. Check your paperwork
Do you have lots of paperwork which you haven’t looked at for a while and it’s just in a tray on your desk to collect dust? Then have a look through it, file what’s no longer needed, and only keep the documents you need for your current tasks or project. Have a filing system in place for your personal life and business, use dividers to create a good overview, e.g. for clients, projects, contracts, invoices, receipts, tax returns, etc.
2. Use cloud-technology and apps to store documents online
To keep your desk clear of paperwork, save documents in the cloud, e.g. iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, whichever system you’re using, it’s better to have your documents readily available at all times, even when you travel or are out, and save paper. Remember, the least distraction on your desk the better it is to focus on your work. Any paperwork you receive in the post can be filed in a folder. Do remember to keep invoices for at least 6 years from the date of your last financial year to comply with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service).
3. Scan documents and business cards
Do you go to a lot of networking events and meetings and have hundreds of business cards lying around? Rather than typing them manually into an Excel spreadsheet, CRM or MailChimp, use an app to scan them and have them readily available whenever you’re looking for a contact or sending an email. There are many apps on the market, e.g. CamCards, ABBYY or Evernote, and MailChimp offers an integrated business card reader. If you receive letters, invoices, etc. in the post you can do the same and scan them, then shred your papers.
4. Website maintenance
If you have a website, regularly update plugins, make sure newly added text is proofread and images are the right size. If your website isn’t mobile friendly you might lose out on potential business and revenue. There are more than 5 billion mobile phone users worldwide, and 65% of them use a smartphone to browse the internet an average of 4 hours a day, that’s a lot! It’s therefore important that your website uploads in less than 4 seconds as 40% of visitors abandon your website and you could lose out on business. A slow website performance will also rank you lower in Google searches due to a poor user experience.
5. Check your business plan and short/long-term goals
You should revisit your business plan at least once a year and update it according to your growth and changes in your business. While you’re looking at your business plan, think about your short-term goals (90-day goals) as well as your long-term goals (1 year, 3 years, 5 years and 10 years), both for your business and life. You might find that your expectations, needs, and ambitions are different than when you started your business. Maybe your concept of how your business should evolve has changed or you have different aspirations for it now. It’s totally okay for your goals to change, but you have to be aware of that. Go back to your goals and check if you achieved them, and if not what went wrong and what went well. Are you making progress and what could you do more to achieve your goals? Then, adapt your business or processes to be able to achieve them.
6. Look at all your technology and equipment
If your budget allows, spring can be a good time to purchase equipment that improves your processes and workflows. If you have malfunctioning equipment that could potentially disrupt your business’ productivity and break down at a crucial time, it is worth to have a look at new technology or equipment which could save you a lot of time and money in the long-term. It is very important to regularly update your software as otherwise your computer system may be susceptible to viruses and cyber attacks and could be potentially a high risk and costly to your business.
7. Organise your emails
Does your inbox explode because you have too many emails and lost the overview? Take some time aside each week to clear out your inbox, move emails to subfolders for clients, projects, business, etc., and colour-code them. Set-up filters so new emails from a specific person and email address will be moved directly into that subfolder. Delete junk mail, block spam, and then clear the bin and spam folder. If you have too many emails in your inbox you lose focus and might oversee an important one. The above steps will improve your entire communication methods as your inbox will suddenly feel so much more manageable and tidy to navigate around.
Oh, and don’t forget to have a strong cuppa on the side while you’re doing all of this! If it’s all too much, you don’t have enough time or it becomes too overwhelming, delegate it or hire someone to do it for you.
And now go on, yes, literally, declutter your home, clean up your workspace, file the paperwork and then relax and think how good that feels. Happy spring clean! 😊