Decluttering is all about making space, whether that space is physical, virtual, or mental. If the sight of your inbox overwhelms you, if you can’t ever locate that file you need when you need it, if you have stacks of paper piling up on your desk and so many sticky notes you can’t see your monitor, then it’s time to declutter.
Spend a day cleaning out your inbox. Unsubscribe to lists that are no longer serving you, file emails into folders, set up filtering rules, and create canned email templates. Take an afternoon to clean up your desk and office space so that you can’t get distracted by clutter in your physical environment. Spend a morning taking all of your sticky notes and random to-do lists and putting them into a task management tool, so that you can finally put intention (and a deadline!) behind each of those tasks.
When your business is free of clutter, you can clearly see what needs to be done, focus your time and energy more intentionally, and start to prepare both yourself and your business for bigger things to come.
Documenting every step in every single process in your business has three big-time benefits.
First, it makes hiring and onboarding new team members seamless. When your business processes are written down, you have a clear picture of the skills needed to properly execute these processes and a roadmap to help anyone you bring onto your team carry them out flawlessly. Everyone is on the same page from day one.
Second, it helps you deliver a more consistent, high-quality experience to each and every person that comes into contact with your brand. When you’ve established and documented protocols for how you respond to questions or complaints, engage on social media, manage your email inbox, and complete other tasks in your business, it ensures that every process is carried out and every situation is handled consistently. Ultimately, it takes ambiguity off the table and ensures that not only you, but also everyone on your team, are representing your brand in the same way.
Finally, it frees up mental energy for other things. When you don’t have to think about the next step in your process and have an easy-to-follow list of what needs to happen each time you respond to a new inquiry or publish a blog post or onboard a new client, it makes doing those tasks much, much easier. Documenting your processes takes time, but it’s worth it. To do this, open up a doc or project management tool while you’re working and record each step as you complete it. Soon, you’ll have a full set of standard operating procedures—and when you do, you’ll be ready for step #3.
Do you believe that you’re the only one that can respond to an email from your client? Do you think you’re the only one that can edit your photos? Do you think you’re the only one that can represent you well on social media? If you’re saying “yes”, chances are, you’re lying to yourself. Because I’m here to tell you that someone else CAN manage your inbox, someone else CAN serve your clients, someone else CAN edit in your style, and someone else CAN create content that feels authentic and true to you.
In order to truly streamline your business, give yourself the space to grow, and scale as a business owner, you need to let go. Let go of the notion that you have to be a one-person show. Let go of the feeling that you have to do #allthethings yourself. Let go of the urge to cling to the small stuff. Let. It. Go.
After all, you’ve already done the heaviest lifting. You’ve decluttered the virtual and physical space around you. You’ve documented your processes and operating procedures in detail. You’ve prepared your business for this—and now it’s time to delegate.
And when you do, when you free yourself from the tasks that truly don’t require your input, when you stop focusing so much of your attention on the small things, you can finally focus on the things that will make the biggest impact. Imagine what will happen in your business when you’re not spending four hours each day doing $10/hour tasks (like answering emails), and instead spend four hours each day working towards goals that could result in $1000/hour (like prospecting, marketing, and networking).
These steps are as much of a mindset shift as a shift in how you work, but when implemented consistently, they can create a dramatic change on your bottom line and your business.