Everybody loves a clean desk. But where else in your business are you weighed down, overwhelmed, or disorganized? In this episode, we talk about all the ways clutter sneaks into your business and how to root it out so you can focus on what really matters.
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About this Episode
What is weighing you down or holding you back in your business?
In this episode, we talk about business decluttering. And, you’ll find the term holds different meanings for each of us and all of them are right.
What we do agree on is that whatever you think of as decluttering in your business — whether it’s removing the processes, tools, and clients that are no longer serving you or it’s some other definition — this is something we should all consider as a regular part of our business planning.
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Molly McBeath 0:16
Hey guys, how are you doing I’m losing my voice. It didn’t come out well at all.
Betsy Muse 0:28
Hello, and welcome to yes but however, a podcast about marketing business and real life. I’m Betsy Muse with my co host Cathy Fealy and Molly Macbeth.
Our topic this week is business decluttering. How do you organize and streamline your business activities to remove the bulk that’s weighing you down, and making it harder for you to achieve your business goals. Kathy starts us off.
Kathleen Fealy 0:53
So I think today we’re going to be talking about business decluttering. And I have a feeling that all of us have a different definition of it, and a different take on it, and probably a different success rate based on my personal feelings about business decluttering and my continued work on it. So, Betsy, I think you were the one that loved this topic, the most so why don’t you get started.
Betsy Muse 1:23
I do love this topic and one of the reasons is because I am a huge Marie Kondo fan, and I have experienced such a relief, with having my own home decluttered. And so this has this has multiple meanings to me, though. And one of them is, it’s almost all of this is virtual. I’m not talking about cleaning my office or anything like that No office supplies. But, reviewing all the tools that I use the SaaS products, and the other tools. Y’all know it’s a big joke between us that I love buying lifetime deals from appsumo. But, you know, we have to do, we have to review them periodically to see if they’re still serving our needs. But I also review. My processes, and my clients, and my mindset, other things, the things that I do to run my business. It’s just the tools are what’s on my mind right now, because I’ve been going through them and have found several that I’m like, I wish I could get these away, because they’re still great. I just don’t use them.
Kathleen Fealy 2:37
Molly How do you feel about business decluttering and what does it mean to you?
Molly McBeath 2:42
Yeah. What, what does it mean it’s such an interesting idea because at first, I’m such a literal thinker. My mind instantly went to, oh yeah I have all those projects. Next I need to delete or archive out of my time tracker tool. So there’s you know that kind of aspect of decluttering, but then I got Betsy and I were talking about this a little bit yesterday, and about just the bigger question of how to declutter your business in in more of a mental way. And what that brought me to think about this afternoon as I was getting ready for us for our conversation today. I was thinking about, well, where am I spending time where I really shouldn’t I don’t want to spend time anymore. And so how can I make sure that I’m staying focused on my core goals and where am I frittering away my time and my energy, doing stuff that isn’t serving my business or serving me very well, which is a big question it’s a big thing to think about.
Betsy Muse 3:53
It is, it is
Kathleen Fealy 3:55
an important thing to think about because that really can impact not only what you’re doing now but what you’re going to do in the future.
Molly McBeath 4:04
Right. So those are the things that brings up for me personally. What about you, Kathy?
Kathleen Fealy 4:12
I was when I heard we were going to talk about business decluttering and I went in so many different directions. It went to being able to find things faster so putting together better systems of filing getting my Dropbox, organized my external hard drives better organized so that I have a bad habit of taking things off of my desktop and just moving it all into a folder into Dropbox so that I have is a backup, sort of, um, but then sorted sorted really well so it takes a while to find things of thank God for search features. Um, it also though, is a bit about. Not in my own business because I have such a varied background. I have clients that I do web design work for which I’m not doing that much of any more. I have clients I do usability work for SEO etc and a lot of times their projects that include all of that. But I like what you said was like you know decluttering. If I think I’m in streamline right now my website services is because I’ve realized that I can’t, there’s, I can’t do everything, and not do it all well. In the very beginning when websites were very very basic. Yeah, it wasn’t so hard to be able to do multiple things but now I don’t think you have to be technically I mean specialized in everything. I mean, so I mean, there’s a lot of people that are only specialized in one thing I look at things in a more holistic way. But I do think that there are certain things I’m better at, so I am trying to declutter by getting rid of the things that either I don’t like doing as much, or that I’m really. Other people are better at, you know, smooth those things that. So I used to in a lot of different ways but I also agree with Betsy in the looking at your assets because I’ve been really like because this year, and we are doing this in June 2020 right now. The economy is a little questionable depending on where you are and who your clients are etc. And I am looking at services which I’ve kept because it would take a while for me to reset them up. But I’m not using them so I really have to decide if the strategy. After take a more strategic look at my own business to see if they really are worth spending the money on versus the time it would take to reset them up, if later on I decided to use them.
Molly McBeath 6:43
I love that idea of thinking about decluttering as evaluating your strategy for how you operate your business.
Betsy Muse 6:51
That was one of the things that struck me too because I do a lot of goal setting as a matter of fact I spent last weekend, doing some business planning and got super excited about it and that’s one of the reasons why this topic resonated with me so much. And, while our audience can’t see it I am showing Kathy and Molly, this, this is seven pages…
Kathleen Fealy 7:15
Lots of hand-written paper.
Betsy Muse 7:18
Hand-written paper seven pages front and back and it’s my client wish list. Now, I am sure quite a few of these are no longer ideal clients. They, they either I’ve outgrown them or they’ve outgrown me.
And so, but this list is seven pages front and back well actually one page is only front. But, so that’s a lot of names. A lot of company names, a lot of people names. A lot of people to track and you know, quite frankly that can be it can add weight to your shoulders, just, it’s it’s just this huge block. If you aren’t getting it done and it weighs on you.
And so I think for me, going through that I need to spend some time doing the business planning, going through that. Okay, who stays on the list and this isn’t meant to be an ugly thing you know, it’s not that they aren’t good enough but they may have. They may know, or a lot of the startups that are on this list may no longer be in business. So I think that just going through and making sure that this list is something that I can work with and move forward with. So this business decluttering. It just, it has so many meanings. And I can’t find one of them that’s bad.
Kathleen Fealy 8:37
Yeah, I agree. I’ve also I’ve decided that business decluttering for me it’s also looking at the various projects that I have on the table right now. And in some cases, some are further along than others. And I feel like I need to this, you love this analogy. I feel like I need to treat my projects, as if I had debt on my credit cards, where you would like start to work off one and then the next one the next one etc. so that I could actually get better control because I have, as you guys all know from our other conversations we’ve had. There’s a thing that I call my 85% project pile my 95% project pile which are. That’s how much it’s left to be, you know, I only have like 15% to finish on the 85 and obviously on the 95 5%, but there’s a multiples of them. So, I am now starting to set up days where I am just working on that one project to come hell or high water, so that it did clutters my business because having all those to-dos in my head is slowly draining my energy. And so, I think I look at business decluttering that way too. Is that you, you have to get rid of the almost like the debt that you’re carrying from not finishing, and making the time to finish the projects.
Molly McBeath 10:04
So I got interested in how the dictionary defines clutter and I happen to have subscriptions to various dictionaries as part of my work. So I went looking, and I’ll say that Webster’s defines clutter as an unorganized collection or mixture of various things, or a state of noisy confused activity, which for me speaks a lot to what I think of as mental clutter.
Betsy Muse 10:30
I kind of think of it the same way I think of a weed. And since I’m a master gardener Of course I think about weeds lot weed is just a plant that’s in the wrong place. A rosebush can be a weed is planted in the wrong place. So clutter is for me it’s just something that is no longer serving me, if I’m thinking about business wise. And so when you, it might not be something that you would consider a mess, and any other terms or any other situation but if it isn’t serving me and it isn’t helping me move my business forward, then it’s cluttering my business it’s standing in my way.
Molly McBeath 11:11
Another thing that came up for me was thinking about decluttering and its relationship to minimalism. There are artists who feel that some amount of clutter increases their creativity. And so then there’s that there’s a balance there in terms of where is clutter useful, and is it ever useful, I guess. What do you guys think?
Betsy Muse 11:36
As someone who has almost always had a cluttered desk, and in the olden days, when the girls were young, I had stacks of papers nothing was filed, but I could find whatever I needed whether it was a receipt. Whatever it was, I needed a legal document anything I could go to it like that, you know, it took me just a handful of minutes to find what I needed. And as I’ve gotten older, I found that that level of clutter bothers me. And so I have my, my shelves are nice neat, tidy I would they’re not minimalist but they are not cluttered. I don’t have a ton of mementos sitting around. And so it isn’t that I don’t value those things but for some reason, it does. It does bother my ability to concentrate. But it didn’t used to. I used to love having all of it around but I was doing more creative work then. So maybe there’s some truth in that it doesn’t work for me now. But I can understand why some people would say it works for them.
Kathleen Fealy 12:54
I think there is something to be said for it. Um, but I also find that my problem is, I’m in a small place now. I used to have. I used to be in a house where I had my own office and my own dedicated space. And this year we moved to an apartment, and because we weren’t quite sure how things are going to work out. I did not get a separate room for my office because I wasn’t sure how long we were going to stay here so we were really sort of getting ourselves just sort of situated because we’re in a whole new town, etc.
So, I’m using a part of a room for my office which is fine. But now, I have to have organization, because of the way it is. But I love having space where you can have clutter, but my clutter was always fun things. I would have rockem sockem robots, I would have the big you know like exercise balls that you could sit on and like, you know, if you were in the middle of
Molly McBeath 13:54
I could use one of those right now. Roll my hips around. Ahhhhh.
Kathleen Fealy 13:57
Yeah, it would feel really good and if you had been sitting for a while on a computer and something saving or you’re transferring something you could go on the ball and you could roll backwards, your back and all hear all the little cracks going on. It was like a wonderful feeling I I do love. Some clutter if it’s provides you with like, you know, like inspiration, like a motivation factor.
Molly McBeath 14:24
But do I have clutter like that, mentally, in some of my processes or relationships with vendors and clients that I need to reevaluate as I thought this was bringing me creativity or energy or helping with income that maybe isn’t so much. And since I only had that thought this morning. I’m not prepared to talk about exactly what those are, because I don’t know but it’s something I think I’m gonna be thinking about pretty strongly for the next couple weeks, Maybe you’re gonna have to check back in on me.
Kathleen Fealy 15:02
I have a feeling there’s enough information in this business data that we’ll be able to talk about this again in the future. And still talk about our progress, and about our struggles.
Molly McBeath 15:15
One idea that I that I did like related to bring up Marie Kondo again because she’s very big on the idea of having gratitude for all your things, especially things that you’re saying goodbye to. And I saw something online when I was thinking about this concept where somebody else was recommending that of, if you are thinking about, particularly clients or vendors that you’ve worked with that no longer fit and are no longer keeping you focused on your core goals that. It’s time to approach that with positivity and gratitude for helping you in your journey and helping you mature as a business. And then saying, a very appreciative goodbye. I thought that was nice. Um, because it does bring a different energy to how you (unintelligible) relationship. I like that attitude.
Kathleen Fealy 16:16
I like that attitude too I think it’s, and I think it’s a very healthy way to approach. Um basically a spring cleaning. So, I like that approach a lot of I think it’s interesting.
Molly McBeath 16:30
And we sneaked in right before the beginning of summer, which is tomorrow. Right.
Kathleen Fealy 16:37
Yeah. No. I think it’s in three days from now.
Molly McBeath 16:40
Do you have something you want to add, Betsy?
Betsy Muse 16:42
No, I was just, you know, I do, I do business planning every quarter. I usually set goals, and I haven’t really made it a point to evaluate the tools I’m using to evaluate my processes, and to evaluate my clients, usually when I’m thinking about whether I’m no longer working well with a client it’s when something has happened, either. My rates are going up and they aren’t happy about it, or there’s a lot of scope creep, that, that sort of thing.
So, I think what I want to do going forward is just being much more intentional about working that into my quarterly business planning, Actually part of it is happening this weekend so I’ll let y’all know next week how it went.
Kathleen Fealy 17:36
I am picturing a lot more notebooks with a lot more pages and a lot more hand-written notes.
Molly McBeath 17:43
In my notebook… Check in with Betsy on decluttering. Should we challenge each other. I mean now we know what Betsy is gonna do she’s gonna be working on her quarterly goals and how business decluttering can fit in with that. And I should I feel like I should challenge myself. What am I, where am I spending time that I shouldn’t be spending time? And so I think I’m going to try to have an answer to that next week. I might not have it figured out entirely or how you know how to solve it. But I think that I want to visualize the end goal and then I’ll work on how to get from where I am, to where I want to be. So that’s my challenge for myself. Are you up for that Kathy?
Kathleen Fealy 18:32
I’m up to keeping both of you on your challenges yes I am.
Molly McBeath 18:37
Kathleen Fealy 18:37
I’ll keep track of your both. I think we should make it. I think there should be a segment we revisit also because I really believe that we’ll have to see how each of us are different definitions have either become more refined or changed over time.
Molly McBeath 18:59
This has been an episode of Yes, but However, I’m Molly Macbeth, with my co host Betsy Muse, and Kathy Fealy. This episode was written edited and produced by the three of us. Our theme music is Tourist in Punta Cana, which is available through Audio Hero. The show’s website, where we post shownotes transcripts, and more information about us, can be found at Yes But However podcast.com. You can contact us through the website, or email us at talkers at yes but however podcast.com. Thanks for listening.
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