Is a cluttered work environment keeping you from operating at your best as a business owner?
You might look around at your desk, office, or workshop and think everything’s in order.
But clutter is more than just physical stuff taking up space. It can also be a cyclone of confusion, noise, or anxiety.
Cluttered systems and processes in your business can quickly drain your energy and keep you from operating at your best.
Let’s dive into a 5-step plan to clear operational clutter so you can perform at your best as a business owner and take your business to the next level.
Hitting “The Wall” in Your Business
Have you ever heard an athlete say, “I hit the wall”? For athletes, this phrase describes the feeling of shutting down physically and mentally.
Business owners at some point during the life of their business will “hit the wall.” They lose steam and need to rest and regroup before continuing.
For business owners, hitting this wall is often caused by clutter in systems and operations. It might show up as a…
- bottleneck in production, sales, or delivery
- critical loss
- mediocre products
- or even a decline in your primary source of revenue.
Cluttered processes create these problems, and at the same time, cluttered thinking also prevents you from seeing creative solutions. You experience frustration, anxiety, and often a whirlwind of activity that brings few results, or maybe even makes things worse.
Hitting the wall in your business can feel demoralizing. Yet hitting the wall does not mean you’ve failed; quite the contrary. It means you’ve done as much as you can the way you’ve been doing it. Now it's time for an adjustment.
The Magic of Decluttering Your Business
There are solutions that could transform that bottleneck into greater efficiency; that loss into stronger infrastructure; that mediocre product into something brilliant; or that declining revenue into a lucrative pivot.
To tap into these solutions, you need to let go of the old way that’s not working and make space for something new.
That’s why we call this “decluttering”—imagine you’re taking big black trash bags and dumping the outdated systems and processes into them, to be replaced by something new that will take your business to the next level.
In my book, hitting the wall is not a problem. It’s an opportunity to evolve your business. In fact, if you let it, it takes you to the place where the genius happens. This is the place where things are clicking, ideas are being transformed, thoughts are jiving, and we are jazzed.
Follow me to the magical zone, where clutter and “the wall” are a thing of the past. Even though being in the zone will feel like magic, the way to get there is very practical: You need to implement and practice S.M.A.R.T habits. S.M.A.R.T refers to goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. And it’s through these very practical steps that you will find the overwhelm dissolves and your magic begins to do its work.
S.M.A.R.T Habits to Move Your Business to the Next Level
1. Be SPECIFIC. This is where we need to come down from the clouds. It’s a simple mind adjustment. A functional road map transforms an idea to a strong and productive infrastructure, or an improvement for a current product or service. Or even better, an improved efficiency that allows you to earn a better gross profit.
- Map out your current systems and processes.
- Name what’s working and what isn’t.
- Make a detailed list of what needs to change.
2. Make sure your behavior is MEASURABLE. Most days it seems like everything is OK. Work is coming in, it’s getting done, clients are paying. Except, at the end of the day, rather than feeling satisfied, you feel exhausted and anxious. Looking at your time as a valuable expenditure forces you to look at where you are spending your time and whether your input is generating the necessary output. If it is, you’re the bomb. If it’s not, it’s easy to look at the data and see where you need to make adjustments.
- Track your time.
- Track your outcomes.
- Which actions are generating results?
- Which actions are creating bottlenecks, confusion, or extra work, i.e., clutter?
3. Set ATTAINABLE goals. I am terrible at setting realistic goals; I always undercut my value. We are creatures of habit, so when our habits head south, pulling with them our self-esteem, productivity, focus, and overall well-being, something needs to change. When that happens, I’d like you to believe as Ghandi does: “Be the change you wish to see.” Like an incredible yoga practice, your business is only as good as you are on any given day, in any given hour, minute, or second. Really look at yourself, your resources and set a goal. This is where hitting the mid-point between too low and too high is brilliant.
- Have you set attainable goals?
- Are you taking action each day to attain those goals? Remember to be the change.
- Do you need help to set mid-point, sweet-spot goals?
4. Keep it RELEVANT. Each business owner creates routines (practices and standards) that make or break the business. In Hawaiian, we use the term imua, which means “a way of moving forward with dignity and respect.” Once you remove yourself from fear, you become the driving force to evolve, grow, and succeed. Are the steps you’re taking, the actions you’re doing, and the way you’re being measuring up? Are they moving you forward in your business?
- Are your routines based on an old model of your business that isn’t serving you anymore?
- Do your routines respect you, your product, your employees, and your customers?
- Are you investing your energy in actions that are moving you forward or that are keeping you spinning your wheels?
5. TRACK your progress in TIME. The bottom line of your business is an incredible mirror to validate your success. Using that along with a calendar and clear deadlines will drive you toward the next level of your business.
- Realize you don’t have to do everything RIGHT NOW. Each project or action has its own time.
- K.I.S.S.: Keep it super simple so that you can meet your deadlines with ease.
- Offload ideas and thoughts. Once it’s on paper, white board, chalk board, etc., you don’t have to worry you’ll forget.
- Prioritize and strategize. Remain an active participant in your processes and systems so you can adjust.
- Walk the walk. A great plan is nothing without great action.
How Will You Declutter Your Business?
However you decide to do it, decluttering your business is the key to getting past the “wall” that we all hit as business owners at one time or another.
Look out for the warning signs, such as a bottleneck, a critical loss, a mediocre product, or a decline in your primary source of revenue.
I like the S.M.A.R.T habit approach because it reminds us to value our time and to always make it count. This approach is a simple and straightforward way to take your business from overwhelmed to humming along smoothly.
Do you need help implementing these ideas and setting up specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound goals and systems for your business? Contact SCORE today to set up a free, confidential meeting with one of our mentors.
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