CEO of Organized Jane and life-biz organizer passionate about helping leaders cut through the clutter to get their businesses organized.
I often wake up and cannot believe that my life is what it is. My goal was to have a digital business with plenty of freedom and to make an impact, and now my goal has become my new normal and I am grateful for this. What does this have to do with doing less and being more productive? Well, that is what my life has become after lots of hard work and figuring out what works best after almost burning out previously.
I had dreamed of having a digital business as soon as I started reading blogs and learned how to make my first website in 2007. But I also dreamed of freedom and living wherever I wanted and traveling whenever. I never liked having a boss telling me when I could take a vacation or when I had to be in the office. Being an entrepreneur can make us work more, but the key is to figure out where your priorities are that actually drive the business. Here are some other steps you can take right away.
1. Reduce effort.
“Remove one accessory before you leave the house” has long been a fashion rule, and I think this can be related to your business as well. Determine where to reduce effort in your business based on your strengths and core competencies. Many of us know our skill sets, but identifying your employees’ strengths can also be a great exercise for teams to help determine their areas of expertise. You might consider using online tests that offer quick and in-depth team analysis.
Anything not related to your area of expertise or strength should be passed off to someone who can handle it better. Of course, sometimes there is no other person or automation tool and we have to do the tasks that are not in our zone of genius, but the more we can reduce those, the more we can maintain our business success while reducing our effort.
Decluttering is important because it leaves you with less stuff to clean and reorganize and allows you to put your energy toward more important things. As a first step, review the items in your actual working space and remove anything you don’t use. The most important area to declutter first is your desk, then move onto other areas of your office space. And remember, digital clutter is clutter too. If your computer desktop is so full you end up wasting time finding documents, it is time to declutter this along with the rest of your files.
3. Use the Ivy Lee Method.
The Ivy Lee Method involves identifying fewer tasks — no more than six in one day — and getting them done. For example, every night I write down my top six priorities for the next day, and I put them in order of importance. If any were left over from the day before, they also get added on, likely on the top as most important. Creating these priorities can help you get your work done faster. Give yourself less time, and you will be amazed at how fast you can work. Using a time cube can also help with this.
4. Get a signature style.
I always say that even 10 minutes wasted every day in your closet adds up to 60 hours a year wasted! In my experience, the sooner you can get your style organized, the more productive you will be. I adopted my signature style when I lived in Europe, focusing on quality garments and fewer clothes. I save more time and energy, and I always feel polished and ready to show up like a boss, not worried about my looks.
5. Do less in your business, but make a bigger impact.
Find out your target audience and message, and use systems and processes to scale them. This can work for both product- and service-based businesses. Create a bigger impact by looking for things to outsource, eliminate or automate. Often we think we need to do everything in our business, but evaluate what really makes the most impact.
Review your sales process and key metrics quarterly to ensure you are providing the least amount of complication between you and your potential customers. And think simple! Often we can become consumed with very complex tools, such as a CRM database. While these tools can be helpful, it’s extremely important to make sure your process and input method are simple and only capture what is relevant so the sales team actually uses the data and can analyze their inputs.
6. Cut down on meetings.
Of course, some meetings are necessary, but when you are sitting in too many meetings, it’s hard to focus on productive work. When people know the meeting will be short, I’ve found they will more likely show up on time and focus on the matter at hand. I sometimes schedule 12-minute meetings. This gets the point across and says let’s get this done in less than 15 minutes.
7. Make hot dates!
Put important organizing and productivity dates in your calendar and make them a habit. It will become an automatic part of your routine, and you will be productive automatically. For example, I have an accounting date weekly, photo organizing date monthly and daily declutter dates for my office and digital spaces.
Often when a company gets bigger, we begin to think we need more staff, software and tools. First it’s important to evaluate your processes to make sure they are all necessary and not making things more complicated. Simple is effective — even for large organizations. Once I simplified my own business, my profits increased and I found my customers are happy with a targeted, simple message.