Sage Advice US

How to be a minimalist and get more done

Quick question: How many pieces of paper can you see in your office right now? How many items are sitting out on your desk? Whatever that number is, it probably should be a lot smaller.

Maintaining a clutter-free workspace isn’t just about keeping up appearances. Its absolutely critical to your productivity and peace of mind.

In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Japanese cleaning guru, Marie Kondo, urges readers to categorize their belongings and only keep things that “spark joy.” The end result? A life free of clutter and a calm, motivated mind.

Turns out, these principals of tidy living can also apply to your business. Here’s how entrepreneurs can embrace this minimalist approach to eliminate the non-essential, operate with less clutter and live with more freedom:

Your workspace

When it comes to eliminating business clutter, your physical workspace is a great space to start. Studies show that executives waste six weeks a year searching for lost items and information. A messy workspace impairs motivation levels and, if you’re operating a brick-and-mortar business, significantly impacts clients’ chances of doing business with you.

Do not underestimate the importance of a clean workspace—encourage your team to declutter their desks at the end of each day, establish a “Spring Cleaning Day” or hire a commercial cleaner to get the job done. If your PC gives you a daily headache, take a look at our recent post on how to clean up your computer.

Your books

No matter how organized your workspace, a messy financial system will never lead to peace of mind. Rather than constantly putting out fires and living in fear of March 15th, use this season to get proactive in how you approach your cash flow. The right tools are crucial—if you’re still keeping your business receipts in a shoebox, use these six tips to streamline your process.

Your inventory

Unless you’re selling wine, chances are your inventory is not getting better with age. More stuff equals more storage, meaning higher storage and product costs. Take stock of your inventory and get rid of items that are damaged or out of date.

Decluttering is not enough to stay organized. A solid inventory system is needed to prevent buildup. According to the Wasp 2015 State of Small Business Report, 46% of small businesses either don’t track inventory or use a manual process to keep track of goods. If you’re struggling to identify an inventory process, take a look at these stock management system options.

Your online presence

Clear your browser and search for your business on Google and Bing. What organic, paid and visual results appear? If they don’t line up with your business objectives, it’s time to clear the clutter and optimize.

A great online presence allows your customers to easily discover you, quickly understand what you offer and know exactly how to get it. Streamline by eliminating wasted clicks—delete abandoned social media profiles, evaluate old content to decide if you can recycle it to serve current business objectives, streamline your website for easier navigation, and make sure where you are online matches with your customers’ browsing preferences.

Your team

Think quarterly, not annually. Rather than waiting till year-end to evaluate your team, check in quarterly to see who is doing their job and who needs a wake up call. We’re not saying to go on a full-blown firing spree, but it’s smart to regularly assess your changing business needs and how your team is stacking up to meet them. It’s better to trim the roles that don’t fit than leave nothing in your budget to reward your best employees.

Your mindset

An important thing to note—clutter is not just physical. Are there any mental habits you’re personally holding on to that affect the health of your business?

Maybe you’re a control freak who refuses to delegate the things that you simply don’t have the time to handle. Or maybe you’re stubbornly holding on to old business goals and products/services that are no longer relevant in your marketplace.

Whatever’s holding you back in business—make it your goal to eliminate the superfluous and focus on the things that “spark joy.”