As 2017 nears an end, and many of us start to wind down for Christmas and perhaps enjoy a quieter January, it’s a perfect time to declutter your business, and clear some space for an awesome start to 2018.
When you’re flat out all year, it can be really easy to build up digital, social, marketing and information clutter. However, if you’re planning a more streamlined year, where you bring in clients and income with ease, you may want to take some time out to clear space, and declutter anything that is no longer serving you, so that you have a clear path to hit your goals in 2018.
A declutter ties in very nicely with 2017 reflections and planning for the new year – so I thought I’d give you a kick start on how you can start to declutter everything that you don’t need any more.
How to decide what to declutter
I recommend that you do this in conjunction with your 2018 planning. Once you know what you’re aiming for, you will be able to make key decisions about what stays much quicker.
Here’s some quick pointers on making those decisions:
- Does it match my current branding
- Did I open this in the last 6 months
- Was this helpful?
- Did this sell?
- Was this really easy to use?
You will know which images to keep, which ideas to bank, which systems are now superseded.
You will know what hasn’t been opened in six months, which app you ‘had to have’ but never used, or the opt-in that just didn’t convert.
I’m not suggesting that you delete your creations – but I’m pretty sure they don’t ALL need to be in your ‘current’ folder.
You know where your business feels the most cluttered, and where you need to clear some space, energy, data, brain space the most – so pick the one thing that will have the biggest impact for you.
This list was not made so that you spend half of 2018 decluttering. I’m not suggesting you work your way through all 30 items.
You will resonate more with some items than others, and some ideas will trigger you to respond more than others. Go with that.
If you need to, come back for more! As Marie Kondo says “there’s alway’s more to declutter” (or something like that). 😉
The Foundation of Staying Organised
My basic foundation of staying organised is that everything needs to have a home.
Create 2017 folders, and move everything that is no longer required into them.
Create 2018 folder so that you know where to put your new creations – making it already one step easier to stay organised.
You will instinctively know which areas you need to start with. Do them first. If there are other’s you hadn’t considered – come back and work on them.
Why is decluttering important?
We work more effectively and efficiently when there is clarity. It’s that simple.
With less goals, fewer priorities, products, tasks – we are simply more focussed, clearer, on message, and more productive.
We all know what it’s like to be spread so thin that there’s just not enough time to get everything done, let alone do it well. The message is diluted, the marketing is hit and miss, content becomes inconsistent, and income becomes inconsistent.
In 2018, I’m focussing on a more streamlined, simple and lean business – and doing an epic declutter of the shit that I don’t need anymore will help me achieve that clarity.
I don’t want to spend my time scrolling through hundreds of social media images to find the right one for a post.
I don’t have time to pfaff around with opt-ins that don’t hit the mark (I know this from experience 😃 ) I have to make it easy for my audience, easy for my clients, and easy for me.
The Epic List of 30 Ways to Declutter your Business for 2018
One of the biggest obstacles to growing a business is having STUFF everywhere (and I’m not just talking about on your desk!).
Unless you get organised, this will not change!
This list is separated into 5 categories: Decluttering yourself, digital decluttering, marketing decluttering, processes, and finally social media.
Part 1 focuses on untangling yourself, so that you can stay focussed, manage bright shiny object syndrome, and be productive is essential to be able to grow and scale your business.
1 Declutter your brain
I don’t know about you, but my ideas float around in my head, all jumbled up with remembering the milk and trying to be mindful!
It’s a LOT to keep front of mind, it can be mentally exhausting, and errands like buying milk end up having similar bandwidth as strategies to promote my webinar – totally disproportionate to the importance of the item.
Try supercharging your brain dump by categorising as you go. You can use categories such as home, family, marketing, emails, follow up, errands, ideas, things to do, get organised, things to remember, shopping, who to ring.
I try and do this every week, so that I can get it all out, see a tangible list so that I know where to start.
Then I can prioritise any actions for a massive clarity and productivity hit.
2 Declutter your calendar
Do you have reminders, notifications and appointments in your calendar that just aren’t relevant any more? I have some reminders that pop up that I totally ignore – and are really only serving as a distraction now. It’s time for them to go.
If you have multiple calendars that layer on top of each other, it’s definitely the perfect time to
a) cull any that aren’t relevant any more,
b) delete any events that aren’t working as reminders
c) make a side note of any tasks you do need reminding of regularly, and adding them into your weekly operations, so that it’s all in one place
3 Declutter your desk
Clear your desk ready for new creations in 2018 by filing, ditching, and decluttering anything that’s floating, or has lost its potency, because you see it every day.
It’s also time to unpin everything from your cork board ready to reflect your new vision and WORD for 2018.
Grab a pretty container for all of your DoTerra oils, a funky pencil holder from Typo, clean your desk with some vinegar and give it some love.
4 Declutter your goals
December/ January is the perfect time to review goals and throw out those that you’ve been carrying around for a while. If you have goals on your list that STILL haven’t been achieved, then step back and take time out to get some perspective.
Perhaps the goal just isn’t relevant anymore, and you’ve moved on from it? No need to waste extra time and energy on goals that aren’t aligned with where you’re heading.
Aim for fewer goals – you are much more likely to achieve them, because you can focus on one well instead of setting yourself up for failure.
One at a time, instead of all at once has more chance of success.
5 Declutter your special projects and commitments
I’ve learnt the hard way that signing up to school council and community groups, helping out with children’s activities, sports coaching/ playing, and event volunteering makes for one busy bee (and these were my activities, not even my girls’!).
More often than not, all of the activities happen at the same time too, such as Easter, Christmas etc. I don’t recommend it if you need the headspace to scale and grow your business, AND if you have a young family.
Keep your spare time simple – you need to treasure it and keep it safe so that you can recharge!
Side note: 2018 is going to be a ‘no’ year for me. Feel free to check in with me and keep me accountable!
Part 2: Reducing Information Overload
Fun Fact: Your brain can only carry 6 key pieces of information in it at one time before it starts fatiguing, and not working at it’s best..
Any more than that, and it will struggle – and this looks like getting distracted, getting tired, not listening well – your brain working overtime.
This is one of the reasons why #1 is so important – but let’s look at all of the other forms of information clutter that creates chaos in our lives.
6 Declutter your To Do lists and sticky notes
If you have lists/ reminders/ sticky notes in notebooks, scraps of paper, on the fridge, in your Notes app, on the kitchen bench, in your ‘other’ notebook, on your desk….. then it’s time to consolidate and declutter. One place for everything will save you brain space, and help you remember where everything is. Commit to reducing how many smaller notes you have.
7 Declutter your Notebooks
I can hear you gasp from here!
Just to be clear, I’m not referring to journals here, but if you use notebooks, then go through them when they’re full, and scan the ideas worth keeping into Evernote. Then you have them on hand, digital – available on any device.
Alternatively, you could end up like this:
I challenged myself in 2015 to reduce the amount I wrote, so that I could keep track of all of the notes I was writing. I hated having great ideas spread out over so many books, and not on hand.I still use notebooks for mapping out ideas and client meetings, but not much else.
8 Declutter your computer desktop
If you can’t see the background image on your desktop, then its time for a declutter. Create some folders and subfolders, and give all of these files a home.
9 Declutter your apps
Check out how many apps you have on your phone, laptop AND tablet that you don’t use and delete them. If you haven’t used them for over 3 months then hit delete.
If you change your mind, you can reload them, but give yourself a clean slate going into the new year – and you’ll have more space on your phone for Christmas photos!
10 Declutter your Inbox
If your Inbox is a source of stress, because there are SO many emails banking up, then it’s time to clear some out.I know how hard it can be to find the time to tackle this. Who has a spare couple of hours to delete emails?
Take my Detox your Inbox 5 day challenge to kickstart this, and get you started.
We’ve had stories of 3000 emails cleared, and up to 12,000 – and they were so thrilled with the release of pressure with this challenge.It created space for them to get organised and set up a plan to keep it under control for the future. That’s not going to happen unless you bite the bullet.
11 Declutter your newsletter subscriptions
It’s great to declutter your Inbox, but you know that it will all bank up again, unless you take some time out to do this one too.
Here’s a general rule of thumb: If you haven’t opened any newsletters from an entrepreneur or shop, then unsubscribe.
Chances are you subscribed because of FOMO or wanting to have the information ‘just in case’, so switch to a ‘need it now’ subscribing strategy, and ONLY subscribe to newsletters when there is information relating to them that you need now.
The information will still be there later, when you need it – but you’re keep your Inbox clean and clear.
12 Declutter your Downloads Folder
This is a favourite one of mine, because I see so many of my clients get tripped up by it.
Saving all of your downloads into your downloads is a recipe for chaos and clutter – and it means that there isn’t a home for it, so it all get’s bundled into the same folder.
All fine, until there are hundreds of files, photos, jpgs, pngs, pdfs that you have to sift through every time you need to find a file.
Ain’t no one got time for that.
13 Declutter your browser tabs
OK – how many weeks have you had some of the tabs open in your browser?
Have you opened it again, or are you just keeping it there ‘in case’ you need it, or because it had something in there you liked?
Close all of your tabs. The information will still be there. You won’t lose anything.
Find a home for it (and use the Evernote web clipper). It’s taking up memory on your computer, and the more you have open, the harder it is to find the one you need (and the longer you have it open, the harder it gets to remember why you kept it open).
Make a decision about what to do with them!
14 Declutter your Files
Chances are there are files you downloaded from a newsletter subscription that you don’t need, and possibly hanging around in your Downloads Folder. Anything that you haven’t opened or used can go.
Note: If you’re feeling slightly scared about all of this deleting, you can always apply either of these 2 home decluttering strategies: Marie Kondo (If it doesn’t spark joy, ditch it) or the 3 basket strategy (Bin/donate, Keep, and ‘not sure, so keep for 3-6 months’).
If you move items into the ’not sure’ folder and haven’t touched them in 3-6 months, you know what to do.
15 Declutter your Social Media images
I don’t know about you, but as the year ends, I’ve noticed that my branding has had a few tweaks, and there are definitely some social media images that are now out of date. Some have fonts that I don’t like any more, some have branding elements like borders etc that look out of place.
I’ve recently rebranded my Facebook Group, dropped the #nomoreburnout aspect of my business – I’m stepping up to be a CEO instead!!
This means I can clear these out of my folders, so that my VA can easily find the images she needs.
Part 3: Marketing and Business Declutter
Being an entrepreneur is often about experimenting and trying new things and new strategies. Some work, some crash and burn. If they’re not resonating with your target market, then it might be time to declutter them.
Here’s some suggestions to get you started:
16 Declutter your email lists
I moved over to ConvertKit earlier this year from Mailchimp, and I have to say part of the reason was because I had too many lists, and it was cluttered. I felt like I was doubling up and tangled up, so if you can relate to this, and know exactly what I mean, then take some time out to declutter your lists so that you can get to know your exact numbers.
17 Declutter your opt-ins
I have a tonne of opt-ins. I happily create them, but between opt-ins, content upgrades, planners, webinars, challenges – there’s a lot going on. I recently consolidated, and it feels so much better.
I also have to admit that if I was confused about I had available, then there’s a high chance any visiting my site did too.
If you know that you have some out there that just aren’t converting – you know what to do!
18 Declutter your funnels
This option may only appeal to some, but to put it simply, if you have funnels that aren’t serving you any longer, cull them.
I previously had more opt-ins than I needed, and it was confusing.
The ‘KISS’ method (and a good old declutter) has really helped my list grow since, because I’m more targeted, but I’m more in tune with my message because there’s less choice. This is definitely a case where less is better.
19 Declutter your products
Too many funnels may be caused by having too many products!
It’s exhausting having to promote ‘all the things’ (unless you have this all beautifully automated and set up as evergreen – which is actually not a ‘set and forget’ system).
The new year is definitely the perfect time to take stock of what’s bringing you income, what’s resonating with your customers, what’s getting you the best results for your clients – AND what’s not.
There is no point spending even more time on something that isn’t working for you, or your market.
(Yes – it can be that simple. You just have to do as Elsa does and …let it go!)
20 Declutter your marketing collateral
So once you’ve decluttered your products, and are left with those that actually get results for you and your clients, you can put to bed all of the
– sales pages
– FB Ads
– landing pages
– web pages
– online courses
– content upgrades
– the email sequences
that you no longer requireYou can choose to retain the copy that you wrote, by saving them into Evernote, or just turning them off, and checking that there are no links back them.
Side Note: This is by no means a small 10 minute task. If you do this, you might like to get some help from a VA to help keep your time focussed.
Consider this an opportunity to streamline your target market in to the programs and offers that are working for you. If you find lots of choice on your website, it may actually be confusing for someone visiting, and helping them before they lose interest.
Make it easy for them but reducing their choices with the products and offers that get them the biggest impact – because you know you can nail it, and you have the testimonials to prove it. 😃
21 Declutter your blog posts
If you’ve been blogging for a while, you will have some awesome stats on Google Analytics about which are your most popular blog posts.
They are the ones you need to keep.I’ve recently been going through old blog posts that have OK content, but need a swanky (SEO) new title, some backlinks (now that I have more) and up to date branded images.
There is some gold in my blog, but no one sees it, so this is a great opportunity to decide what is really good, and what isn’t really in line with my message any more. Hello repurposing!
There are definitely blogs that I can delete but I can also repurpose a whole lot – and nearly have a year’s worth of content to publish. Now that’s what I call effective decluttering!
Part 4: Your systems and processes
A good system is one that also works when you’re under pressure.
If you have systems with a million steps in it – chances are you’ve dumped it for something easier OR you were too busy and ended up doing it all yourself, despite the fact that you developed the steps so that you could outsource it.
Do you have any systems within your business operations that sound like that?
Then it’s time to review them and simplify. You (or your VA) just has to get the task done – it doesn’t need to be perfect.
Here are some systems and processes that might need a declutter to make them streamlined and actually support you to make life easier.
22 Declutter your client onboarding process
Yes – by all means make it as easy as possible for your clients to work with you, but if you have too many options, too many links, backwards and forwards appointment booking cluttering up your emails, and a payment system that relies on you being available to create and send an invoice, payable by bank transfer only, then you may lose a client or two, because they’re exhausted before they start.
By decluttering your onboarding process, you are focusing on as few steps as possible between a client saying YES, and them being booked in and paid.
If you achieved #19 on this list and reduced the number of products you offer, then this might be your next step.
23 Declutter your stats tracking
I started tracking my growth stats a few years ago, and after 12 months, I kind of went crazy and tracked just about everything, but because it was too much, and took too long each week, it failed, and I couldn’t keep up with it consistently.
Like when you want to change your life, and aim for changing everything at once, instead of in small chunks – destined to fail!Make a list of the stats you really want to track, and reduce your list so that this is realistic for you (or that the process is simple enough for a VA to do it for you).
Bonus points if you set up your spreadsheet for 2018 at the same time!
24 Declutter your paid subscriptions
Do you know how many annual or monthly subscriptions you have?
Do you know how much they total every month?
Do you use every single one of them and they all help your business?
Ask yourself these questions to check in on whether you can save some money on a monthly subscription (or two).Often we forget which one’s we sign up to, especially if they do that sneaky thing where they roll it over to the next year without notifying you (until you receive the tax invoice in your Inbox and freak out!)
Make sure you’re investing in tech that you use – that’s just smart decluttering.
Part 5: Social Media
Social media is a major source of information overload. Take some time out to actively decide where you want to hang out, and pull back from those you don’t.
You will spread your wings again as the year goes on, but if I start from a smaller place, I can keep it more manageable than if I add to what is already too much.
I know from experience that adding more and more on to my social media plate leads to overwhelm, spreading myself to thinly, diluting my message and putting my self under unnecessary pressure.
Check out these tips for decluttering your social media feeds.
25 Declutter your Facebook Groups
Just for fun, I thought I’d count how many I am in: 177
Now, not all of these are business related, but that absolutely shows me just how big the gap can be between reality and perception.
I thought it might have been around 50-60. Not even close!I want to make sure that I am
a) effective when I post in a business related group
b) reducing the notifications I receive by not being in so many groups
c) reduce the amount of time I’m in FacebookSo in order to achieve that, I need to declutter my Facebook group membership.
How about you?
Want to share your Facebook Group numbers? You can post them into the Chief Executive Entrepreneurs Facebook Group if you’re feeling bold!
26 Declutter your LinkedIn Groups
I’m pretty sure this is a thing too. I’m on LinkedIn, but not activeLY – but the LinkedIn groups can be as big an issue as Facebook.
Make sure you declutter yours so that your message and your time are spent well.
27 Declutter your MeetUps
If you signed up to loads of MeetUps that interested you when you first registered, but haven’t managed to get to many others, or had time to unregister, January might be the time!
28 Declutter your Instagram Hashtags
You can only have 30 right?
Here’s a question – are you using the best ones, or do you need to let some go, and do some research for new ones?
There are always new up and coming hashtags to be found. You might pick up some new followers too!
29 Declutter your Youtube Channel, and subscriptions
Did you know you can make playlists out of your your Youtube videos?
You can sort all of your videos in the channels and customise the experience for any one who’s binging on your videos.
You can also check in on your subscription list in Youtube. I definitely need to, as I still receive Hi-5, Olaf video notifications!
30 Declutter your Podcast subscriptions
If there are podcast subscriptions that you just don’t listen to anymore, then unsubscribe and clear space for the new awesome podcasts that will be launched in 2018. Whilst there will always be more podcasts, there will only be the same amount of time to listen!
Imagine how much more focussed you will be without all of this clutter!
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