An Effective Guide To Limiting Business Clutter

For any business to function at the height of its powers, it needs to be streamlined. Efficiency is the goal and the reward, giving your business the chance to flourish exactly as it needs to.

It therefore naturally follows that if you choke your business in clutter, it’s not going to function as well as it should. Rather than being a well-oiled machine, you’ll constantly have spokes in the wheel just waiting to disturb the flow of how you should be operating. It doesn’t matter what type of business you have or how long you have been in business; you need to ensure that you’re functioning at maximum capacity.

How Does Business Clutter Develop?

There are three types of business clutter, which might sound odd if it’s a concept you’ve only just heard even exists! Nevertheless, you’re going to need to be aware of all of these if you want to keep things on track:

  • Literal Clutter. Items in your workspace that are not immediately in use. This could be filing boxes, old stacks of paper, trash in your workshop – whatever it is, it has a physical presence but is not immediately going to be used.
  • Electronic Clutter. Keeping a handle on all electronic communication is difficult, especially if you have a small staff and have to manage it for yourself. This could be email stacking up in your inbox, neglected social media accounts, or even just not having got around to making those social media accounts you know that you need.
  • Emotional Clutter. This is the clutter that you can’t help but bring into your business. While it would be ideal if we could all perfectly compartmentalize our emotions, the truth is it’s rarely effective. Sometimes – for you or your staff – your personal life will bubble over into your work life.

What Can You Do About It?

Coping with clutter is not as simple as organizing your office space and throwing half of it away; nor is it going through all your workshop drawers and labeling them. Instead, coping with the issue is more about learning the thought techniques.

To try and do that, let’s create some examples.

  • An Auto-Shop. Auto-shops are incredibly popular as businesses, with over 220,000 operating in the USA  at any one time. They involve premises maintenance and employment of staff.
  • A Freelance Designer. Someone who works from home on a self-employed basis, with a home office and a specific number of clients.
  • A Retail Store. Let’s say a small boutique rather than a large multinational chain; somewhere where the owner is on the shop floor on a daily basis and is greatly integrated into the culture.

While you may not specifically be in these businesses, they are examples of types of businesses – and you can extrapolate the findings that most relate to your company from them.

What Coping Mechanisms Apply To All Three Examples?

Some strategies for coping with clutter can be applied to all three businesses, primarily anything involving emotional clutter. No matter what business you’re running, have three rules:

  1. If someone is struggling on a personal, emotional level, then don’t expect them – or yourself – to just buck up and get on with it. Emotional needs are just as valid as physical health.
  2. Talk to professionals to help sort through issues, seeing a therapist ideally, though even a discussion online can help you vent some of the pressure.
  3. Never undertake huge tasks until you feel emotionally ready for them. It’s better to defer to another day than to do it when you’re incapable, and risk ruining a client relationship or upsetting a customer.

How Do You Handle The Other Two Types Of Clutter?

Let’s look at the first and most obvious – the literal clutter. Here are some examples of how our three example businesses could cope with these.

All three businesses should organize a professional clean of their working environment on a bi-annual basis. This helps to stop items and trash from piling up, helping to focus the mind on what is needed.

All three businesses should also be looking into ways to make the best use of their space. Sometimes, the clutter isn’t just from mess; it’s necessary items that you can’t do without. That’s why you need to think of workarounds.

The auto-shop could look into machinery that performs more than one purpose, allowing them to streamline their workshop space. They could research the best plasma cutter to limit the number of machines in the area or even putting less-often used machines into storage, only to be brought into action on a case-by-case basis.

The freelance designer should take advantage of modern technology, and look for a computer that is able to be both a tablet and a laptop, as well as a phone that is large enough to take on tablet-sized tasks.

The retail store should focus on its storage methods and institute a policy that any stock that is still on shelves after six months is to go on sale. They could also investigate other methods of generating business from their wares, such as selling items online.

So the overall rules are:

  • Be thorough and take advantage of professional services.
  • Try and incorporate abilities into as few a number of machines or gadgets as possible.
  • Don’t linger hoping that something will sell; if it hasn’t in six months, be ruthless.

As for electronic clutter, that’s a little easier to deal with.

  • Install filters on your email so that you only received urgent, priority messages into your main inbox.
  • Deregister yourself from as many mailing lists as possible. Even if they’re relevant, they’re a time suck – you’d be better getting the information individually.
  • Block into your diary 15 minutes per day to check over your social media accounts.

Does It Work?

Finally, are the steps above going to amount to a better containment of clutter? Of course they are – but you have to be rigorous. It’s no good if you try them for a few days and then forget; this is a habit you need to develop, and continue, for the sake of your business future.


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