WomensNet News

June 20th 2011

A Women Business Owner’s Guide to Cleaning House: And Dramatically Improve Your Effectiveness

If you haven’t read my last blog, Secrets Every Woman Entrepreneur ShouldKnow To Increase Her Productivity, you should read it before reading this one.


The basic premise of my last blog was to show you how to clear your head of the “productivity preventing” clutter.


Now it’s time to rid yourself of your physical clutter – all of the other junk in your life that may be weighing you down. Lifting the weight will produce a marked increase in your effectiveness.


I promise.


So, it’s time to clean house. As a women business owner, the best thing you can do is to kick butt and lighten your load while keeping a couple of vital things in mind.


I present to you — Thing 1 and Thing 2.


The first thing that you should do is establish an “In Basket” or if you’re like me – an “In Crate.” This is where you will put anything that you find that is potentially actionable – meaning you will need to decide what you are going to do with “it” at a later time.


The second thing you need to do is to search your home, office, and car for anything that is not where it belongs. And depending on how organized a lifestyle you lead, this could be easy or it could be painful.


You are looking for physical stuff like your supplies, tools, gear, office equipment, reference materials, pictures, recognition awards, etc. These are things which may require no action except to put them in their proper place. If you can put an item in its proper place in two minutes or less – just do it. If not, it goes into your In Crate and becomes actionable later.


Practically, work your way around your home and office examining —


  • The Top of Your Desk
  • Countertops
  • Desk Drawers
  • Cabinets
  • Shelves
  • Floors and Walls
  • Office Equipment
  • Furniture and Fixtures


Once you begin to go through this process, your memory will be jogged with actionable items (tasks) – but this is not the time to stop and do anything except put the actionable items in your “In Crate.” If the item is too big to put in the crate, then make a representation of the item on a sheet of paper and put “it” in the crate. If you think of actionable items, write them on a piece of paper and put them in your In Crate too.


In the process, you will probably begin to amass a serious heap of trash, recycling, and things that you decide to give away.


CAUTION — Do not slip into project mode and start doing major organizing. You will have more than enough actions to keep you busy when you are done with this cleaning process.

Just watch your In Crate grow. This is a good thing.

This could be one of the healthiest house cleanings you’ve done. If you have really been honest and collected all of the stuff that had captured your attention, you are ready to get to the bottom of your In Crate.

According to productivity guru, David Allen, you are ready to “Process In.” You are ready to do something with the stuff.

Here we go…

At this point you need to determine the exact next action for each item in your In Crate. For example, if one of your items is to get your quarterly taxes done, your action is not “get my quarterly taxes done.” The next action might be, “review tax file to ensure I have all necessary documents” or “call accountant.” To be clear – decide on the next tangible, physical behavior that you are actually going to do.

Once you have decided the next action, you really have only three choices according to Allen.

  1. Do it (if it takes less than 2 minutes)
  2. Delegate (if you’re not the best person to do it)
  3. Defer it (put it into you organizational system as a “to do later”)

Remember, if you delegate an action, you really need to make a point to delegate systematically and clearly – checking for understanding of the action. And you need to follow-up to make sure it got done.

If you defer an action, the action needs to be clearly written down in your organizational system. For ease of processing, you might want to simply put a sticky-note on the piece of paper in your In Crate and log each deferred action in your system as soon as you get to the bottom of the Crate. Don’t feel compelled to schedule these deferred actions all next week. Schedule some really soon, others for someday, and you know the drill – specifically schedule those that you need to do on an exact day at an exact time.

Make sure that you remind yourself of those items that you are waiting for some one else to do. If you delegated properly, you gave some one else a specific due date for getting back to you.

Lastly, let’s talk about projects. You may have found and defined a ton of projects – maybe 50 or 100. The narrow definition of a project is any item or outcome that you are committed to achieving that takes more than one action to complete. Write these down in a project plan with dates, times, those that you need to delegate items to – and remind yourself of the individual items on a regular basis.

You should be seriously on your way to having your environment cleared from clutter and your head free from thinking about it. Your result is that you will see your path ahead clearly, feel energized and empowered, and achieve results in a way that makes you very successful.

Here’s to cleaning house!


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