The new year is almost upon us, and with the new year, a fresh start. People often think of the new year as a new chapter—a chance to start over and set resolutions and goals. With this, it’s only natural to want to leave as much clutter behind as possible so you can start the new year off fresh.
Much like we tidy our homes to get rid of clutter that accumulates over the years, we need to tidy our business and get rid of clutter so we can make room for what matters and keep the things that “spark joy.” Does that phrase sound familiar?
“Spark joy” was made famous by Marie Kondo, a best-selling author of the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her method, called the KonMari method, teaches people to organize their space to make room for things that “spark joy” or bring meaning to their life.
How can you “spark joy” and use it to declutter your business?
Clutter can start in small ways. You place a document in a random folder in a filing cabinet. And then another. Before you know it, it is full of papers. When a workplace is cluttered, it can affect employees’ cognition, emotions, and behavior, and influence their decision-making and relationships with others. But making sure the workplace is decluttered and tidy can make the workday less stressful. How do you start?
First, make it your goal to remove unnecessary items from your business. Have an end-of-the-year meeting with your team and tell them about your decluttering goals. Get them involved, and together, work to finish what you start. Some obvious areas to tackle first are:
What do you want your business to look like once you’re done? Do you want to have more efficient processes? Up-to-date contact lists? A company that runs efficiently and is a place employees want to work? Having your goals defined and being mindful of them during your cleaning stint will help you focus and stay committed to tossing out the unnecessary.
Cleaning up your organization can be a big project. Even with the help of your team, the process can seem overwhelming and make you want to give up before you even start. To make it more approachable, begin with the most current and relevant items.
For instance, instead of looking at the old file cabinets of outdated materials, start with the online files your team uses today. Focus on a document audit first to decide what documents can stay and what should be deleted (or moved into an archive folder).
Don’t update those documents yet; just sort them. Do your audit department by department and gain momentum by starting with a category that’s easy and fun for you and your team.
Your next steps with the “keepers” may be to review them for accuracy, update them as necessary, and organize them into an easier-to-find file structure.
Then, after you organize your online documents, shift your focus to the next category of items, such as business equipment, processes, or contact lists. You likely have things you’ve long forgotten about tucked away and gathering dust.
Starting with the easy ones will keep you focused on your goal and from getting overwhelmed.
Decluttering in the business environment means looking at your items, processes, etc., and asking yourself, “Does this continue to serve a positive purpose?” much like Marie asks homeowners, “Does this spark joy?” Go with your first instinct. If an item “serves a positive purpose,” such as a document you can update, then keep it. If the item does not spark joy; for instance, an outdated document you no longer use, discard it.
Marie suggests that before you discard items, thank them for what they’ve done for you. It may feel a little funny to verbally thank a document or piece of equipment for what it’s done, but it offers recognition and appreciation for how it once helped your business. And it makes the process of letting go a little easier and certainly more fun!
You can use decluttering to organize documents, emails, contact lists, receipts…the list goes on. Decluttering your business isn’t something you can get done over the weekend. It’s a process that takes time. But an organized and decluttered business will spark joy and free up your time and mind to give back to your employees and clients!
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