Note from Raelyn: Given the popularity of the Netflix show “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo”, I thought that it would be fun to have a guest post with cool tips about how we can organize our blogs and businesses together. Let’s welcome Whitney!
There’s something deeply satisfying about getting rid of things you don’t need and finding the perfect space for things you do.
And if Marie Kondo’s runaway success is any indication, I’m not the only one.
After decluttering, everything feels fresher. Cleaner. Simpler.
And that feeling doesn’t have to stop with our physical spaces…
You can apply the same logic to declutter and organize your blog and business.
Businessman Stephen Covey famously said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” When there’s too much clutter distracting us from our business’s core purpose, it’s hard to get any meaningful work done.
So let’s take a leaf out of Marie Kondo’s book. Here are 13 ways to declutter and organize your business to experience more joy and focus on what really matters.
13 ways to organize your blog & business
1. Scrub your email list
Did you know that email marketing databases decline by an average of 22.5% every year?
In addition to unsubscribes, a portion of your email list will simply stop engaging over time. They may abandon old email addresses, lose interest in your content, or your messages may be going to spam.
It’s good to remove unengaged subscribers from your list because:
- Reducing your subscriber count saves you money
- It will increase your open and click-through rates
- You’ll speak only to the people who want to hear from you
All wins, right?
But don’t remove inactive subscribers just yet…
I always recommend sending a three-part re-engagement email campaign to inactive subscribers to make sure they really want to be removed. This is a series of three emails designed to pique subscriber interest and give them a chance to raise their hand if they still want to receive emails from you.
If a subscriber still hasn’t re-engaged after your campaign, you can remove them from your list, knowing you tried everything possible to keep them interested.
…And then you can enjoy the feeling of a lighter list, knowing your efforts are focused on subscribers who truly want to be there.
2. Streamline your inbox
If you’re like me, you have a love-hate relationship with your inbox. You love that we live in a time where you can communicate with just about anyone with the click of a mouse…but hate that sinking feeling when you log in to hundreds of unread messages.
While we can’t ignore our inboxes entirely, we can declutter and prevent build-up with three smart strategies and tools.
The best way to clean up your inbox is to unsubscribe from all the emails that aren’t, to quote Marie Kondo, sparking joy.
Go through your inbox and check out all the subscriptions you currently have. Which ones do you read on a regular basis? Which do you really love? Unsubscribe from any lists that don’t satisfy those two needs.
If you realize you miss receiving these messages down the road, you can always re-subscribe with the click of a mouse.
Reduce the emails in your inbox
Sometimes, you might not want to unsubscribe from a list (you never know when that Sephora Friends & Family coupon is coming!) even though it doesn’t necessarily spark joy.
That’s where unroll.me comes in. This free tool takes your email subscriptions and rolls them up into one daily email that looks like this:
Rather than having dozens of emails clogging up your inbox, you’ll get one daily digest of all your favorites — in a simple, easy-to-consume way.
Boomerang your emails
Sometimes, you’ll have emails that you don’t need to act on immediately.
That’s where Boomerang can help.
Boomerang is a free tool that allows you to “boomerang” your messages in Gmail to come back at a later time.
For example, I update my accounting on Fridays. With Boomerang, I can remove any receipts or invoices from my inbox today…and have them come back into my inbox on Friday, when I’m ready to process them.
This helps keep your inbox tidy so you can focus on the messages that require your attention immediately.
3. Minimize your offerings
Have you heard of the Pareto Principle, where 80% of your results are produced by 20% of your efforts?
Business expert Perry Marshall reinvented that rule to apply to your business and says that 80% of your sales come from just 20% of your offerings.
Take a look at your yearly revenue. Which products, services, or online courses produced that revenue? Which contributed to the majority of your income? Which are your worst performers?
Consider cutting your lowest performers from your business. By focusing on a smaller number of offerings, you’ll have the bandwidth to create powerful marketing materials for the offerings you will continue to promote. You’ll make more money with less effort and less stress. Who doesn’t want that?
If you want, you could host a “last call” promotion where you give your audience one last chance to purchase an offer that’s going away. Scarcity is a great way to motivate sales! Plus, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you gave everyone a fair chance to access your product.
4. Batch your days
Multitasking isn’t just a productivity killer, it also creates a sense of mental clutter.
Studies show that multitasking causes productivity to drop by 40%, it takes 50% longer to accomplish a single task, and up to 50% more errors are made while multitasking.
To tremendously increase your productivity and enjoy more simplicity in your business, work on like-minded tasks together. This cuts down on time spent bouncing between tasks (called “task switching”) and helps you get more done.
To give you an example, here’s how I batch my weekly activities:
- Monday: Marketing — write all my blog posts, emails, social media posts, etc.
- Tuesday: Client work — host calls and work on client projects
- Wednesday: Content — create digital products, update existing products, write new lead magnets, and additional marketing activities
- Thursday: Client work — host calls and work on client projects
- Friday: Systems — accounting, website maintenance, tracking, planning for the following week
- You can start by simply hosting all your calls or meetings on one or two days every week. Especially for those of us who work from home (ahem: in sweats and a messy bun,) you’ll have time by making the most of days you get properly dressed and ready.
5. Fire clients (or at least plan to fire them)
If a certain client is draining your energy without adding enough to your business, it’s well within your rights as a business owner to end the relationship. You can always get new clients!
Take a look at your client roster from the last year. Which clients did you love working with — as in, would fill your entire calendar with them if you could?
Marie Kondo’s logic is to only keep the items that spark joy, that make you excited to have them in your life. Following her lead, strive to only keep the clients you absolutely love working with. Every client you don’t love is taking up valuable space in your calendar that could be filled with a better fit.
Now, firing clients may not be feasible for everyone. Maybe the payments from those pain-in-the-butt clients keep a roof over your head and you can’t afford to lose them. That’s okay!
But it’s important for you to understand which clients you’d like to fire. That clarity will help you know who to cut when you find a brilliant new client to fill their space…so your business can be full of clients and projects that spark joy.
6. Organize your books
Tax time is stressful for many entrepreneurs because they’ve neglected their accounting all year long. After all, it’s easy to say, “I’ll update my books next week”…for about 25 weeks straight. But it’s such a freeing feeling to know that your finances are in order — it’s absolutely worth a few hours to organize your books!
You don’t need to invest in pricey software like Quickbooks or Xero (although they’re great options) to track your expenses and income. You can start with free software like Wave or track everything with a simple Google Spreadsheet. Pick one system and stick with it for the year.
To declutter messy paper receipts and invoices, take photos and save them digitally.
Use standard formatting so your receipts and invoices are easy to find down the road. The format I use is “DATE_BUSINESS NAME.pdf”. So a 2/3/19 receipt from Staples would read: 020319_Staples. pdf.
The act of organizing your accounting may not spark joy…but handing your books off to your accountant a month before tax time certainly does!
This is such an underrated way to declutter and organize your business…
Take a look at all the tasks you do as an entrepreneur and ask yourself these three questions:
- Which ones do you dislike most?
- Which tasks aren’t your strong suit?
- Which ones don’t have strong ROI (aka don’t make you much money)?
Now ask one more question…
Can you outsource those tasks to someone else?
Paying someone to do the jobs that you don’t like, aren’t good at, or aren’t profit-generating is a great way to simplify and streamline your business. By handing over tasks to another team member, you’ll free up your limited time to focus on activities you love, are great at, and make money.
Don’t underestimate the tasks that can be done by someone else. Everything from inbox maintenance to client management to graphic design to copywriting to social media to bookkeeping to web design…even to shopping for your groceries…can be outsourced.
oDesk and Fiverr are great options to find a freelancer that fits your needs.
8. Clean up your feeds
Does your Instagram feed spark joy? Do you love scrolling through and seeing the updates from accounts you’re following on Twitter? Is your Facebook News Feed your happy place?
If not, it may be time for a following purge.
Go through the list of people you’re following and unfollow anyone whose account doesn’t spark joy for you. Pay special attention for any accounts you tend to compare yourself to (read: any accounts that make you feel like your life or business isn’t “good enough”) and unfollow.
Cleaning your feeds has a big result. It feels refreshing to log in to social media and actually care about every update you see.
You get to choose the people, ideas, and content you let into your life.
So choose joy. Choose inspiration. Choose connection. And choose to say “goodbye for now” to any account that doesn’t do that for you. You can always re-follow them later if you miss them.
9. Create workflows
When you’re a solopreneur or an online business with multiple employees, it’s easy to jump straight into work. After all, you know what you’re doing, right?
Creating workflows makes working in your business so much simpler. Instead of thinking through every task you need to do, you can simply follow a set of steps to know that you’re doing everything correctly.
For example, you can make a workflow for creating blog posts, including things like:
- Decide on topic
- Research article
- Create outline
- Write first draft
- Decide on blog title
- Edit draft
- Use SEO tools to improve ranking
- Update meta description and keywords
- Design social media graphics
- Create any printables
- Send to VA for posting
…so you don’t need to remember everything on your own!
(Related: 11 Things You Should Do Before You Publish Any Blog Post )
You don’t need to create all your workflows at once. Create them as you go.
The next time you schedule social media posts, for example, write out the steps as you’re walking through them. You can do this in Google Docs, Trello, Asana, or whichever platform works best for you. Or you can use a video recording service like useloom.com to record your screen while you’re doing the task.
Bonus: these workflows don’t only make your life simpler…they’ll also make your team’s life simpler. They’ll keep everyone on the same page, make sure expectations are clear, and make it super easy to train new hires.
10. Streamline your client projects
How do you keep on track of your client work? Do you have an organized process that takes a new client project from start to finish? Or do you sit down at your desk each morning and say, “Okay, who needs what from me today?”
Software like Dubsado, 17Hats, and Honeybook can help keep client projects organized. They can handle things like client contracts, invoicing, automatic payment processing, email communication, forms and workbooks, and more.
Most client management software options also allow you to create workflows — the list of tasks that need to happen with each new client. You can automate emails to go out, schedule reminders to keep you on track, and ask for payment automatically.
They can essentially act as your digital project manager — so it’s one less thing for you to worry about!
11. Organize your blog posts
“Where’s that blog post about the thing…with the thing?”
If you’re a blogger who hasn’t asked yourself that question, teach me your secrets!
When you’re a new blogger, it’s easy to lose track of your posts. But as busy entrepreneurs, re-sharing and repurposing old content is one of the best ways to stretch each blog post as far as it can go.
It’s helpful to organize your blog posts in one easy-to-find spot. (I use Google Sheets.)
A few things you want to include in your blog index:
- Post title
- Date posted
Keywords are arguably the most important part of your blog organizer! By adding in lots of keywords for each post, you’ll make it extra-easy to find the post you’re looking for.
You want to keep your keywords personal — write in the words that YOU think of for that particular blog post. They may not make sense to an outside observer, and that’s okay!
For example, I recently shared a video that I recorded in a hotel room in Boston. I might one day think, “I need that video I recorded in that Boston hotel!”
Instead of racking my brain to think of the video’s official title or category, I can just search for ‘Boston’ or ‘hotel.’ And since I included them in my keywords column, I’ll find the post right away. Bingo!
Start with your newest blog post — since that will be the freshest in your mind — and work your way back towards the older ones.
Each week as you create new blog posts, add them to your spreadsheet. Over time, you’ll build a healthy, robust index full of click-worthy posts.
12. Set up canned responses
If you’re like most business owners, there are certain emails you send over and over (and over) again.
Instead of writing these fresh every time, use canned responses to save time and simplify your business.
A canned response is a pre-scripted message you’ll use in a specific situation.
Here are a few examples of where you can use canned responses:
- Welcoming a brand new client
- Saying “no thanks” to an opportunity
- Sending a late payment notice
- Pitching a podcast or popular blog
- Submitting work to a client
Using a canned response not only makes life easier, it also strengthens the experience of working with your business. You can simply copy/paste these messages whenever you need them and know they’ll always be clear and on-brand. You can also customize the canned response for each client or project to add a personal touch.
If you want to get started with canned responses, two great tools to check out are MixMax and Google Canned Responses.
13. Document your to-dos
The best way to declutter your mind is to get your ideas out of your head and onto paper (or screen.)
Use a tool like Asana, Basecamp, or Trello to help you:
- Keep track of your various tasks
- Assign due dates
- Delegate tasks to different team members
Having all your tasks in one place takes the pressure off your brain to keep track of everything. It’s also helpful to see one clear picture of what needs to be done, when.
And when it comes to simplifying your task list…
Try to focus on just one priority each day. The word “priority” actually entered the English language in the 1400s and meant “the very first or prior thing”. It remained in its singular form for the next five hundred years.
…Until the 1900s, when we pluralized the term. (And I’d argue when we started feeling overwhelmed on the daily!)
Pick ONE priority on which to focus your energy every day. Not three. Not 16. Not even two.
You’ll make more progress and your brain will feel less cluttered while doing it.13 Simple Steps To Organize Your Blog & Business (Marie Kondo Inspired!)Click To Tweet
Let’s simplify and organize together!
As business owners, there are so. many. things. we need to keep track of. It can be downright overwhelming and paralyzing at times.
That’s why it’s important to simplify and organize what we can.
Implement one or more of these tips to declutter your business and experience loads more joy!
Whitney Ryan is a persuasion copywriter at whitneyryan.com. She has been helping small businesses and entrepreneurs make more money with their copy (without ever feeling salesy, sleazy, or other gross words that end in a “zee” sound) since 2010.
She specializes in building real-ationships with subscribers and leans on her background in psychology to create emotional copy that moves readers to action. Grab Whitney’s free 3-part re-engagement email campaign or sign up for her weekly copy tips.
Brandon Baker says
Awesome share, Raelyn. Deleting inactive email subscribers is indeed a very powerful tip. At the beginning of year, I decided to get rid of inactive subscribers and had to delete almost 30% of them (who never opened an email in past 3 months.)
It was a sad thing to do but the results have been much better after that. CTR and Open rate is also around 25-30% for every email campaign. Thanks!
Raelyn Tan says
You’re welcome, Brandon!
I just found your blog and I must say it’s amazing. Thanks for these useful tips.
Raelyn Tan says
Thank you, Kristen! Happy to have you here 🙂