It’s August 1st, and I just wrapped up a crazy month-long challenge. Nope, not diet, not exercise…I was focused on getting rid of stuff.
For those who know me, you would most likely think of me as organized, neat, clutter-free. But the reality is I like to hold onto some stuff way too long. Certain stuff finds the trash quickly, but there’s always that lingering “other stuff” that seems to stick around longer than needed.
So, I went into July with a self-proclaimed challenge. To get rid of something, anything, every day for 30 days. I didn’t limit myself to one thing per day. I just told myself that every day in July something needs to go. And so it went.
Day one: I started with my closet. A great place to start, since we seem to fill this space and never think about getting rid of old stuff when we buy new stuff. So, I started there. And wow, did I enjoy it. Shirts, pants, sweaters (when did I buy that one?), shoes, belts, ties (ties...how many do you actually need?). You get the idea. And you know what, it felt pretty good. I had some breathing room in my closet, along with the realization that we probably wear the same 20% of our cloths 80% of the time. Not to mention the bags of good-to-great condition cloths that were headed to Goodwill. Day one seemed like a win-win, with more hanging space for me and a clothing donation for others who actually need it and will wear it.
Day two: Now what? Luggage. You would think I travel the world on a regular basis. Why do I have luggage I never use? I kept what I use (and may use) and donated the rest.
Day three: books. So many books. Don’t get me wrong. I love books and kept the ones that I like to have for reference or the occasional re-read. But I really didn’t think I needed a copy of The Truth About Stress any longer (who gave that to me, anyway?)
Day four: files and papers. Fourteen pounds to shred!
Day five: one old tool I found in my workbench that I used once twenty years ago (for those who are curious, it was a rivet gun).
Day six: sticking with the tool theme, some old garden tools that were duplicates of the stuff I actually use.
Day seven: a spatula and a couple of other cooking utensils (duplicates, and never used).
Week two was a little more of a challenge. Had I approached week-one with such excitement that I over purged? What was left?
But as the days and weeks played on, I found myself finding all sorts of stuff. Even if it was one thing, as minor as it seemed, it either went in the trash or was added to the donate pile.
This rewarding experience led to some clarity through decluttering, and had me thinking…how can any of this translate into business applications? Where in our businesses can we find clutter, excess, redundancy…stuff?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. But some areas that popped into my head included:
Time: as we’ve discussed in other posts, where can you eliminate or reduce those repeating “time-wasters”?
Vendors: how long has it been since you reviewed your vendor partnerships? This is an area where we must regularly assess value and the give-and-take balance.
Old, tired, or outdated processes: software and other applications for your business change regularly. Is it time to examine alternate, new or updated systems/processes?
Inventory: have your customer needs changed over time? How much money is sitting on your shelves? Take a fresh look at your inventory turns. Is there room to purge those stale SKUs to make room for alternate and/or more valuable items?
Product/service offerings: similar to the line item above, have you kept up with your customers’ changing needs with fresh product/service offerings? There are many layers to this one, but perhaps your consideration here may be worth exploring for a possible cleansing or refresh. We like to believe our offerings are as relevant as they were since the onset of our business. But as an example, think of that restaurant that keeps their menu static for way too long. Sure, there may always be those foundational menu items that made that place a “reservations recommended” hotspot, but what opportunities exist on your menu that could use an honest and contemporary review?
As mentioned, this is just a partial list that initially came to my mind. Reflect a bit on this list, and also think through some other areas of your business that could use a refresh. I look forward to hearing your comments, and where you’ll start decluttering for clarity.