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10 Ways To De-Clutter, Simplify, and Streamline Your Life

10 Ways To De-Clutter, Simplify, and Streamline Your Life

So you know you need to get organized, but don’t know where to start. You may lose things, purchase a new thing, and find that thing (you thought) you lost one week later. You’ve read something about Minimalism, but aren’t sure how it applies to you. You know you’re not ready to get down to 100 possessions, ditch your car, or work only from remote locations.

Sound familiar?

If you are looking to live a life free of the stress and (physical) weight of your clutter, but you don’t know where to begin, here’s how to start. Consider these manageable steps a process, one that may not happen overnight. But take it one step at a time, and you’ll find that less is really more.

Step 1: Start Now

Assess what you have. Admit to how many pairs of shoes you own, how much storage space you have, or the fact that you haven’t seen your garage floor in years. Don’t make yourself wrong for getting there, or feel bad about being there. Just admit how it is now so you can accept it and move forward.

Step 2: Clear the Clutter and Clean the Slate

After you’ve taken stock of the areas in your home that need decluttering, prioritize which area is most important. You may want to start with what seem easiest, to gain confidence and momentum. This will catapult you toward cleaning out the other areas that take more time and energy.

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Don’t get overwhelmed by thinking you’ll do everything at once. Put out a bag or a box for items that need repair, one for items to donate, one for items to sell at your garage sale or through ebay. (Might as well make some money off of all that stuff!) Take breaks, play some great music, and enlist the help of a family member, friend, or professional organizer.

Don’t save things for “someday.” If you don’t need them, just let them go. It is just stuff.

Step 3: Let Go of “Shoulds”

The “shoulds” create clutter, both physically and mentally. There may be a list of things you should do, but that you’ve been avoiding. Put those things on your calendar and get them done.

If they take follow-up action, put those actions on your calendar. Set yourself up to win by making commitments to fulfill these tasks. If you are challenged by self-discipline, there are great reminder apps out there for your mobile phone, or you can enlist the help of a Life Coach to hold you accountable.

Also, let go of what other people think you should be doing with your life. Those are their shoulds, not yours. Don’t let them clutter your brain.

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Step 4: Start a “Don’t Do” List

Admitting what you have been “meaning” to do and “just letting go” is a powerful step. You may never go back to college to finish that degree. You may never hike that 100 mile trail that you have on your bucket list. That’s okay. In fact, let the bucket list go.

If it happens, it happens. If not, don’t sweat it. These are not your non-negotiable items, but things that hold you back from feeling great about all you have already accomplished.

Step 5: Go Paperless

Reduce paper clutter as much as possible.

Unsubscribe from catalogs or magazines that you don’t need. (There are even websites to help you avoid receiving junk mail so it can’t accumulate in the first place.) Get your bills online, and don’t print anything out you absolutely have to.

Of course, be aware that certain documents (e.g., tax statements and other important files) may need to be kept in paper form for a specific amount of time, but do as much as you can to streamline the rest.

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Step 6: Get Organized

Now that you’ve gotten rid of the clutter and all of the things you don’t need, it’s time to organize what you have. You may find that you don’t even need  those file cabinets or storage bins you thought you needed (when you had more stuff). The great part about getting rid of things is that it leaves you with less to organize.

Put everything in its place according to how and where you use it. By keeping like items in one place, you’ll find you don’t have to go searching the entire house for them.

Step 7: Automate

Since you’ve now gotten your bills online and out of your mailbox, you can take the next step and automate your bill payment. Set this up through your bank, through payment sites that auto-deduct directly from your bank account, or through your credit card of choice.

Step 8: Clear Out the Digital Clutter

When it comes to digital clutter (such as emails, files, photos, etc.), create a system for backing things up and for storing them. There are online file storage sites that you can use so your data stays secure and backed up. Only keep emails that you think you will need to refer to later. Start unsubscribing to emails you do not want to receive, or use an email filter to make them simpler to view.

Step 9: Maintain

Now that things are looking good, be determined to keep clutter from accumulating again. Create daily, weekly, and monthly strategies to keep things clean and clear. Bad habits start small – resist the urge to leave things laying around or let dishes sit in the sink overnight. Make it your firm determination to put those dishes away and clean up before going to bed. Keep your desk clean and clear, rather than letting things pile up.

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Another tip: When you are going on a trip, clean up the house before you leave so that it is clean when you return. You’ll be amazed at what a difference this makes in giving you time to decompress from your travel.

Step 10: Enjoy the Simplicity

With less stuff and less need for storage space, you can take the time to enjoy the fruits of your decluttering. Who knows? You may be able to downsize and get a smaller place. That will leave you with more money. And more time.

Time you can use to enjoy your new, simplified life.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Bridget Baker

Web Presence Sherpa

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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