Organising to maximise business efficiency
Running a startup is challenging - it involves wearing many different hats and having to deal with multiple decisions and challenges every day. If we work in a cluttered and disorganised environment on top of this, it can make us feel overwhelmed and stressed. Disorganisation can make it harder to prioritise tasks, focus on important decisions and think creatively.
Organising and decluttering your work environment can take many forms, whether sorting out physical clutter on your desk, reducing digital distractions or setting up systems to streamline work processes. Whatever form it takes, it can help you achieve business goals faster - gaining new customers, improving your website, hiring staff or creating a better work / life balance for yourself.
1. HOLISTIC BENEFITS
When we talk about organising, the positive impact it has on all parts of our lives is often overlooked. It is not just about having a tidy space to live and work in. Organising and decluttering helps sleep, memory, productivity, mental and physical health, all of which are vital to a startup founder and their teams.
For example, if you struggle with sleep, try removing clutter from your bedroom including unfinished projects and digital devices. You can then better organise your room to optimise it for sleep - for example, sort through your bedside table so you have exactly what you need for a good night’s sleep rather than a collection of clutter.
If you find yourself falling into analysis-paralysis or have a big business decision you are putting off, then decluttering and organising can unblock you. It does so by honing your decision-making skills as you have to make lots of small (and relatively unimportant) decisions about what to keep and what to let go of based on what holds value to you. The more you practise this with smaller decisions, the easier it becomes to make the big decisions, for example, in relation to the direction of your business.
We consistently hear from clients that their memory and productivity has improved after organising sessions. This is because visual disorganisation means that there are many things competing for your attention, effectively telling you that they need to be “actioned” (whether they do or not). Reducing this disorganisation improves your ability to focus on and prioritise tasks for your business.
Research has shown that clutter affects both our mental health () and our physical health (). Decluttering and organising your home improves your stress levels and means you have more space to look after yourself mentally and physically.
2. CLEAR DESK FOR A CLEAR MIND
A quick win to maximise efficiency and therefore reach your business targets and goals quicker is by putting your desk or work space in order.
COVID-19 has meant a lot of startup founders and teams now have to share their work space with family members or housemates and the boundaries between our living and work spaces are becoming increasingly blurred. This can negatively impact our productivity and wellbeing.
You may need to declutter and re-organise your physical space so that you can have at least one dedicated workspace. When deciding where you will work - consider how you can switch off from it at the end of the day. Can you close a physical door on your work? Do you have space to put your laptop and stationery in a cupboard when you are not working?
Avoid clutter building up on your desk or workspace by spending a few minutes clearing it either at the start of the day or at the end of the day (whenever you have more time). During the day, try to have a quick clear-up of your desk before starting a new piece of work as this will clear your head as well as your desk.
Only have on your workspace those items which you really need to have to hand. For things that you only need every now and again, store them in drawers or shelves nearby. Every item should have a place where it “lives” so you know exactly where to find things when you need them.
3. GOAL SETTING
From my experience as a founder, it is crucially important to have a clear business plan and financial targets that you are striving for. This is not just important when it comes to pitching for investment but for your own purposes in organising tasks and setting goals for your business.
You need to be able to measure your achievements against something to know whether what you are doing is improving your business. It is incredibly helpful to know at what point you will break even and make profit because then you can focus on the exact tasks which will help you achieve this rather than throwing everything at it and hoping something sticks.
It can be helpful each week to make a list of the top three things you want to achieve and then break that down into the three most important things to action each day. Looking at that list each time you start a new task keeps your focus on tackling things that will really help you move forward in your business. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of doing things throughout the day that fit with other peoples’ priorities, not your own.
4. DIGITAL ORGANISATION
Digital clutter does not just take up physical space but it takes up significant space in our heads. It is easy for our time to be sapped by notifications from emails, social media and phone messages. Before we know it, the day has gone and we feel like we haven’t achieved anything.
Schedule specific times during the day to check emails, messages and social media. Limit the “noise” and declutter notifications by turning off those you don’t need to receive. This way you can carve out dedicated time to concentrate on those items on your to-do list that require uninterrupted time to complete.
If you are someone who feels overwhelmed by their emails or finds it hard to locate digital files when you need them, take time to set up organisational systems which work for you. Often the simpler these systems are, the better. You can create “rules” to file emails automatically to save yourself time. Be ruthless and delete and unsubscribe from emails that you do not need to read. With digital files, set up folders that make sense (e.g. invoices, marketing) and sub-folders within those or make sure that you label your files accurately to make it easy to find them again in the future. Those few seconds could save you a lot of time in the future!
5. MAKE THE MOST OF TECHNOLOGY
It is amazing what we can do now with technology to organise our workload and reach our goals more efficiently.
If you have a team, consider using collaboration tools such as Trello or Asana to share targets and create time-lines for projects with individual tasks. You can organise your customer data by using a CRM system and use it to build customer relationships and streamline processes. Social media posts can be batch scheduled and automated so you don’t have to come up with new ideas every day. Bookkeeping software speeds up the process of invoicing and keeping track of receipts.
Taking time to decide on which organising solutions to use to help the pain points in your business will maximise your efficiency and help you to grow your business.
Getting organised makes a real difference to reaching your business goals more efficiently and effectively. It is important as a startup founder to also protect your stress levels and overall wellbeing. By decluttering and organising, you can ensure that you are performing at your best and are focusing on actions which will make your business a success.