Episode 212: Business as Unusual: Spring Clean Your Service Business
Spring is here, so it’s time for a little clean up in your business. Plus, with the madness of the last couple weeks, many of you are feeling like things are slower than normal, making it the perfect time to do some work ON the business.
What we do now in our businesses will have a ripple effect months down the road, so doing some routine maintenance in your service business can reap benefits later. In this episode, I’m sharing specific suggestions on what to “clean” for the biggest impact.
Here’s something you may not know about me. I love nothing more than a good clean up. It’s so satisfying and rewarding. So when we moved homes in mid-2019, I committed to keeping our new house clutter free, and getting ultra organized. (Home organizing accounts on Instagram are now in the mix to get ideas!) Also, I put in place something I call the “weekly checklist” that I use every weekend to set my family up for success for the coming week.
Thanks to these systems and the checklist, I feel less like a hot mess as I go through the week. I know what’s for dinner. The laundry is folded. And things don’t fall apart around me, and I’m not preoccupied by the mental clutter of thinking about these tasks.
Our businesses are the exact same. They need ongoing care and cleaning to keep running in a way that helps us ensure we’re able to do the work we need to do. To help inspire you to do a little spring cleaning in your business, here are some ideas to get you started. And many of these are from my own list that we’ll be working on coming month.
Tidy Up Your Digital Files
I don’t know about you, but even with all the folders in the world, once I’m in the middle of a project, I’m not always the best at ensuring things are where they’re supposed to be. As a result, items end up willy nilly in my download folder, on my desktop and my Google Drive.
Take some time to clean up your computer, organize your digital files and if you don’t have one already, create a clear structure for where everything lives. Just like I have a basket in my office labelled “batteries” so one asks me again if we have a AA battery, you need a home for your digital files.
Once you’ve done an initial clean up, decide on a frequency to do a “clean sweep” so you’re not faced with a couple hours of clean up down the line. This could be once a day, week or even month. The secret is that you actually follow-through and do it the clean up. .
Purge Your Paper
While more and more of our documents and files are digital, I’m willing to bet you still have paper you need to keep on file. From credit card statements to receipts, that paper can pile up in unexpected ways in our office or workspace.
Start by purging what you have. Figure out what you need to keep, and what you need to get rid of. If you’re overwhelmed by paper, keep this simple.
With my business receipts, I have a clear zipper folder from the dollar store that I put all my receipts for a single year in. Once a month, I clear them out of my wallet and put them in the folder. That’s it. Come tax time, I know they’re all there.
Then, for household bills, I have an in basket, and then organize and file them once a quarter.
Also, where you can, switch to digital copies of your bills. That has saved me so much stress and annoyance with the amount of paper piling up in my office. Plus, I make a point of sorting mail as it comes in so nothing ends up hanging around that we don’t need.
Even if you’re super on top of your bookkeeping, it’s very easy for expenses to creep in and eat up your money. Doing an expense review can be a quick and easy way to save some money, and to ensure you’re not paying for things you don’t need.
It’s as simple as looking at your expenses for the last two (or three) months and carefully reviewing line by line what you’re spending your money on. Ask yourself: Do I need that tool? Can I cancel the five domain names you’re not using? Am I really using that $39 monthly membership?
This may seem like chasing pennies, but doing this exercise periodically helps draw awareness to what you’re spending and prevents you from wasting money on items you’re not using. Finally, avoid the temptation to hold onto something if you’re not actively using it. You can always sign up or subscribe at a later date if you do actually need it.
You can get a rundown on this expense review exercise including a worksheet in the Double Your Freelance Income course which is free. In this course, you’ll find five lessons on how to help you double your income, and one way is to better manage your expenses. You can sign up here.
Clean Out Your Inbox
For some of you, you’re wondering why cleaning our inbox is on this list. And for others of you, you literally just cringed thinking about it. For those of you that keep your email under control, gold star for you.
For the rest of us, I feel you. For years I struggled with keeping my inbox tamed. I was the queen of 1874 unread emails. So if that’s you, no judgements, I get it.
If you’re suffering with inbox overwhelm, start by setting 30 minutes on a timer and committing to moving through as many emails as you can. What I’m not going to do here is make this complicated with a bunch of filters and folders.
The name of the game here is to unsubscribe from emails, and delete the ones that don’t matter. And if you’re deleting emails, ask yourself if you need them at all, because you likely don’t!
For emails you need to take action on, deal with these using the two minute rule. If you can handle it in under two minutes, do it now. If not, flag the email or file in a folder called action.
That’s it. If you try to do more than that and you’re going to get even more overwhelmed.
If you’re on a roll, then do another 30 minutes. If not, schedule another block in the next three days. This is a great activity to do while you’re watching Netflix as it’s super tactical and relatively mindless.
Honestly, if your inbox is super bad, pick a cut off date, like two weeks in the past, and anything older than that date, archive or delete it. If you don’t need it in the next 30 days, you likely won’t ever need it. And I’d argue that if it’s been in your inbox for 14 days and you’ve not done anything with it, you’re unlikely to act on it.
Once you get your inbox under control, commit 10 to 15 minutes a day to help stay on top of it. If you’re too busy to deal with your email on a daily basis, then you may need someone to process your email for you instead.
If all of this feels hopeless, just know that if I can break my bad habits with my inbox, you can too. For me, it really came down to building a habit of tidying my email throughout the day. I’m in my inbox anyhow, so why not tidy it up as I go? Future me is always happy when I do this, and on the occasion I skip it, it definitely leads to feeling overwhelmed. Happiness for me is a tidy inbox, and it may be for you too.
When doing your spring cleaning, don’t overlook the need to do some mental decluttering. The detritus in our brains is just as challenging, if not, more challenging than physical clutter.
Check in with yourself and be honest about where you’re really at. To do this, I’ll typically journal for a set amount of time (10 to 15 minutes) to see what comes up. I’m a written processor, so this works best for me. For you, this may be recording yourself in a voice memo, or another method. Whatever works for you is best, the key is that you create some space to see what’s floating around in your head.
I’m always surprised by the insights I’ll get from this exercise as it surfaces stories I’m telling myself. A few of my greatest hits include “I’m not ready” and “Who the hell do you think you are to build this company/make more money/insert other thing here”.
Whatever shows up, I know that’s what I need to work on. Sometimes that’s money mindset and going back to brush up on my mental game there. Or other times, that’s going back to examine the work I’ve done in the past on my imposter complex.
Get Started with Spring Cleaning Your Business
We’ve covered a lot in this episode, so my counsel to you is to pick one to start. Pick the one that feels like it would be the quickest win, then from there, you can add another.
I want to know what you’re going to focus on, so join us over in the Small Business Boss Squad to let me know!
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