Declutter Your Business and Find What Sparks Joy

The new year is almost upon us, and with the new year, a fresh start. People often think of the new year as a new chapter—a chance to start over and set resolutions and goals. With this, it’s only natural to want to leave as much clutter behind as possible so you can start the new year off fresh.

Much like we tidy our homes to get rid of clutter that accumulates over the years, we need to tidy our business and get rid of clutter so we can make room for what matters and keep the things that “spark joy.” Does that phrase sound familiar?

“Spark joy” was made famous by Marie Kondo, a best-selling author of the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her method, called the KonMari method, teaches people to organize their space to make room for things that “spark joy” or bring meaning to their life.

How can you “spark joy” and use it to declutter your business?

Dedicate yourself to the idea of decluttering

Clutter can start in small ways. You place a document in a random folder in a filing cabinet. And then another. Before you know it, it is full of papers. When a workplace is cluttered, it can affect employees’ cognition, emotions, and behavior, and influence their decision-making and relationships with others. But making sure the workplace is decluttered and tidy can make the workday less stressful. How do you start?

First, make it your goal to remove unnecessary items from your business. Have an end-of-the-year meeting with your team and tell them about your decluttering goals. Get them involved, and together, work to finish what you start. Some obvious areas to tackle first are:

  • Files and documents
  • General office equipment
  • Rules and processes
  • Contact lists
  • Marketing and sales materials

Be mindful

What do you want your business to look like once you’re done? Do you want to have more efficient processes? Up-to-date contact lists? A company that runs efficiently and is a place employees want to work? Having your goals defined and being mindful of them during your cleaning stint will help you focus and stay committed to tossing out the unnecessary.

Start with easy relevancy

Cleaning up your organization can be a big project. Even with the help of your team, the process can seem overwhelming and make you want to give up before you even start. To make it more approachable, begin with the most current and relevant items.

For instance, instead of looking at the old file cabinets of outdated materials, start with the online files your team uses today. Focus on a document audit first to decide what documents can stay and what should be deleted (or moved into an archive folder).

Don’t update those documents yet; just sort them. Do your audit department by department and gain momentum by starting with a category that’s easy and fun for you and your team.

Your next steps with the “keepers” may be to review them for accuracy, update them as necessary, and organize them into an easier-to-find file structure.

Then, after you organize your online documents, shift your focus to the next category of items, such as business equipment, processes, or contact lists. You likely have things you’ve long forgotten about tucked away and gathering dust.

Starting with the easy ones will keep you focused on your goal and from getting overwhelmed.

Keep what sparks joy

Decluttering in the business environment means looking at your items, processes, etc., and asking yourself, “Does this continue to serve a positive purpose?” much like Marie asks homeowners, “Does this spark joy?” Go with your first instinct. If an item “serves a positive purpose,” such as a document you can update, then keep it. If the item does not spark joy; for instance, an outdated document you no longer use, discard it.

Give thanks

Marie suggests that before you discard items, thank them for what they’ve done for you. It may feel a little funny to verbally thank a document or piece of equipment for what it’s done, but it offers recognition and appreciation for how it once helped your business. And it makes the process of letting go a little easier and certainly more fun!

Trust the process

You can use decluttering to organize documents, emails, contact lists, receipts…the list goes on. Decluttering your business isn’t something you can get done over the weekend. It’s a process that takes time. But an organized and decluttered business will spark joy and free up your time and mind to give back to your employees and clients!


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Protecting the Integrity of “The Process”

Processes are a wonderful thing.

They can take mayhem, disorganization, lost time, and frustrated teams and turn them into highly efficient powerhouses. A great process not only creates clarity and ease within a team but also protects crucial elements like the quality of work, boundaries, and trust. But, as with all great things, great processes take time to hammer out. They likely aren’t perfect the first time around. They take tweaking, adjusting, and intentional consideration to develop.

When approached effectively, building a process can be a beautiful example of impactful team building and collaboration. The same is valid on the other end of the spectrum: when processes are developed ineffectively, they can result in dysfunction, frustration, and poor outcomes.

Silos are a process’s worst enemy

Whether your company has 5 or 500 employees, silos can significantly damage your organization. Teams with differing responsibilities are a given, but they don’t need to become silos. The more you allow teams to be walled off from one another, the easier it becomes for destructive processes to begin sneaking into your organization.

Extraordinary processes require collaboration, so your teams— especially your leaders—must be open to collaboration. Processes can only improve when the people involved are expected to question them, challenge them, and offer solutions.

Team review should be an expected part of the development when someone in your organization creates a process. There is nothing more effective at helping improve ideas than having to explain and defend them in a team discussion. It shouldn’t be an argumentative conversation but exploratory and curious in nature. When we question ourselves and open up to outside perspectives and critiques, we can discover holes in our reasoning that we missed or flaws in our assumptions that we haven’t thought of.

Gain new perspective and ease

When creating systems, an outside perspective is a powerful tool; it empowers and creates ease. Even someone not playing a part in new processes can have valuable insight into how to improve them.

You’ve probably experienced processes that weren’t developed with ease of use in mind. Just think about the last time you had to go to the DMV, renew your passport, or apply for a Visa. The very word bureaucratic sends shivers down spines. The Oxford Dictionary defines bureaucratic as “relating to the business of running an organization, or government,” and “overly concerned with procedure at the expense of efficiency or common sense.” 

The phrase “common sense” compounds the concept of community input and collaboration. It’s not the “individual sense” that we all value so highly—it’s the gathered intelligence of the community.


Grow, change, and be flexible

Perspective is constantly growing and changing, so by nature, the systems we build through community input should lack rigidity and can flex and bend as needs and circumstances change. If we allow individual perspectives within our organization to collaborate on finding solutions, challenge and investigate, and upend our ideas, we allow for developing bulletproof systems that serve us and our work.


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Cultivate an Environment with a True Team Culture

Having an environment where employees are happy to be working, enjoy their jobs, and feel like they’re part of a team working to accomplish something bigger may sound like an idea straight out of the movies or from the galleries of stock images. A nirvana possibly attainable by other people, but not your company.

But it is possible to have that type of environment in your company. In any company.

It takes some work, but most importantly, it takes the right work and focusing on the right things. Here are four ideas to think about and some self-assessments to do so you see exactly what challenges you may be facing with your team.

Consider the team environment

A cohesive, well-developed team will consistently outperform any individual, no matter how talented. Ensuring every team member works effectively with the rest of the team is critical for consistent and constantly improving results.

Ask yourself / Ask the team: Thinking about the environment in our organization, is it truly a team working together and helping one another with everyone focused on the same ideas and vision of the company? Or is it a group of individuals who come into work each day and get their jobs done, working in relative isolation or perhaps in silos?

Clarify roles

To perform jobs effectively, everyone needs to have complete clarity of their role and how it contributes to the overall vision and goals of the organization. If people don’t understand how their work impacts the team, the goals, and the clients, then it’s easy to dismiss the work as unimportant and treat it as such.

Ask yourself / Ask the team: How well do our groups and individuals understand their contributions and worth to the organization? Do we have current job descriptions clarifying these ideas for everyone on the team?

Practice accountability

The most successful organizations have built-in accountability systems for every role. Every role should contribute to the company’s success, and without the proper work being performed in each role, the organization cannot thrive.

Ask yourself / Ask the team: What expectations do we have of our people? How do we hold them accountable? Do we have natural systems in place and/or formal systems? 

Be a role model

The organization’s leaders create the vision, set the goals, and set the tone for everything else in the company. They are role models, and how they treat the staff directly correlates to how the staff treats one another and your clients. If your leadership team is excited about your staff, their wellbeing, personal and professional development, and growth, this will positively impact the entire organization. The opposite feelings and attitudes will create a negative environment.

Ask yourself / Ask the team: What is the leadership team modeling with their behaviors? Are we/they a cohesive group or combative and disorganized? How do they/we interact with and communicate with the team? Do current behaviors demonstrate that they/we care about other team members?

Assessing the assessment

If you feel good about your answers, then congratulations! If you didn’t like the answers you had for these questions, then get to work making changes by first asking yourself another question:

What is holding us back from creating an environment where teams thrive?

Your answer may be as simple as, “We just haven’t thought about it,” or “We know it’s a problem, but we didn’t know what to do about it.” Or maybe you have a more systemic problem where the leadership team is the cause of the negative environment.

  1. In any of these cases, you need to start from the top. Fix leadership issues first. Or maybe you simply need to come to a consensus as a leadership team on what needs to be done and then communicate with the whole organization what your plans are.
  2. Next, create clarity for each role and ensure that every role is tied to the vision and goals of the company. Help everyone see how they fit in and develop a sense of worth for each person and every role. Involve the team in this work and communicate with them throughout the process.
  3. Finally, work on natural and formal accountability. Natural accountability comes from team meetings, coaching meetings with supervisors, and peer-level expectations from team members. Formal accountability comes from performance reviews, improvement plans, merit increases, bonus structures, etc. Involve the team in discussing this accountability and communicate with them throughout the process.

No one likes surprises and new structures being dumped on them. Let the team participate and accept ownership through the development process. As you communicate, ask for their input, and follow through on what you talk about, the environment will shift. Stick with it. Don’t back down. It’s not going to be an easy, quick fix, but putting some consistent practices into place will get you off to a good start and provide a foundation you can continue building on.


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Engage Young Talent with Telehealth Benefits

Employees want benefits that allow them to invest in their overall health and wellbeing. One benefit that younger employees especially appreciate, and that is continuing to grow into 2023 and beyond, is telehealth.

What is telehealth?

Telehealth, or telemedicine, lets employees receive high-quality medical care from the comfort of their own homes. While it is not a replacement for urgent care or emergency medicine, it is an option for people who want fast, convenient, and affordable care for injuries and illnesses.

Two years after the start of the pandemic, there has been an almost 11% increase in the use of telehealth services. In another survey, nearly 45% of people reported using some form of telehealth, whether from a mobile app, a subscription service (such as a mail-order pharmacy), or a computer via telehealth software. Also, the use among young adults ages 18-34 remains high, with 61% using telehealth services.

If you have telehealth services or are considering offering them as part of your benefits package, how can you engage younger employees and inform them about telehealth?

Let them know of the convenience of telehealth

More than 70% of younger generations prefer telehealth because of its convenience, with 44% of Gen Z and Millennials saying they may switch healthcare providers if they don’t continue to offer telehealth.

Telehealth doesn’t tether employees to any one healthcare provider, and they will have 24/7 access to resources and providers so they can be informed, stay on top of their health, and schedule appointments that best suit their schedule. They can talk to a doctor within minutes instead of driving and waiting in a doctor’s office. Depending on their symptoms, they may be referred to urgent care or the emergency room, but the convenience of accessing health care whenever they need to can be an attractive option.

Continually communicate the benefits of telehealth

Did you know that 40% of workplace injuries can be assessed virtually? This means when employees use telehealth, they can get treated faster, stay healthier, and return to work sooner. Communicate about your telehealth benefits by giving examples of how it can be used in easy-to-understand language, such as “If you wake up sick and cannot come into work, here are the steps you can take to get treatment.” This way, employees will understand exactly how your telehealth benefits work.

Address underlying privacy concerns

Since telehealth takes place on a digital platform or mobile app, employees may have privacy concerns and wonder if their personal and medical information will stay private. Telehealth communications between people and their telehealth professionals should all be HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliant and secure. Verify with your particular provider so you can confidently share the security message with your employees.

Discuss how telehealth can improve access to healthcare

If some of your employees live in rural or remote areas, they may not have many options for healthcare providers, or the nearest doctor’s office may be too far for them to conveniently drive to. Telehealth can enable your employees to receive the care they need, no matter where they’re located.

Mention safety and social distancing

Employees may still be concerned about COVID long after the pandemic stops. Telehealth services allow social distancing by preventing in-office interactions and potential exposure to COVID and other illnesses such as the flu. This knowledge can ease their minds and give them a sense of security.

Meet employees where they are

As an employer, supporting your younger employees and letting them know you have their backs regarding their physical and mental health demonstrates your commitment to their wellbeing. By offering them telehealth and conveying the benefits of telehealth, you let them put their health first and give them peace of mind to get the care they need anytime and anywhere.


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Time Management? Try Energy Management

Have you ever heard of the spoons theory?

Though it is popular among people with chronic illnesses, such as arthritis or multiple sclerosis, it can apply to anyone. With the spoon theory, energy is related to spoons, and everyone gets a certain number of “spoons” daily. Some tasks take more spoons, and others take fewer spoons. Once you’re out of “spoons,” you’re out of energy and have no more to give to people or tasks.

In our world of go go go, people tend to cut out sleep. They stay up late and get up early. They work over 40 hours a week and work 12-to-14-hour days. By the time they get home, they are exhausted and maybe have time to eat dinner, shower, and get a few hours of sleep before getting up and doing it all over again. People go into the next day (and the day after that) with fewer spoons.

There has to be a better way

Time is a finite resource—it has a limit. Once it’s gone, you cannot get it back. So we do more to try and manage time by working longer hours to get everything done. And working longer hours does nothing other than deplete your physical, mental, and emotional energy and lead to burnout. 52% of employees feel burnt out.

But what about energy? Energy is an infinite resource, which means it can be replenished. Instead of managing work-life around a clock or a calendar, why not manage it around energy?

Energy management has always been a thing

Managing time means dividing the workday into tasks and determining how much time is needed to complete those tasks. Time management, however, doesn’t factor in the need to recharge because some tasks might need more physical, mental, or emotional energy than others.

How can you and your employees replenish energy and give yourselves more spoons so you can be more present and focused?

Pay attention to your attention

Some like to be powerhouses and to work through the day without ever taking a break. When working, pay attention to your attention. When it seems to drift, or you find yourself feeling tired or hungry, take that as your cue to stop what you’re doing. Take a walk, get a snack or some lunch, or do some meditation. The key point here is to step away from the desk or the screen—your work will still be there when you get back.

Throw away the idea of multitasking

 As mentioned in previous blogs, multitasking is a myth. Brains cannot focus on more than one task at a time; the more we focus on, the faster our energy is depleted. Give yourself time to focus on a task that allows your brain to relax while focusing on a single activity. Fit no-electronics time into your day and do something like pick a favorite book off your bookshelf and read.

Eat well, exercise, and rest

These health and wellness facts might surprise you: 

Instead of succumbing to the urge to sleep less, eat a lot of junk food, and sit down for hours on end, structure good sleep into your night and movement in your day. Make time to exercise, get up and move around, and make time for some “you time,” where you relax and enjoy a hobby. Your energy reserves will replenish, and your body will thank you.

Set your boundaries

Create boundaries for how much you want to get done in a day. If, for instance, you are a content writer and you find writing blogs to be particularly draining, set reasonable expectations for what else you’ll accomplish on days when you write blogs. You can adjust boundaries as needed.

Gain more energy in your days – and more spoons

You want to end the day with some energy and spoons left in your mental drawer. Rethink the idea of time management, and instead of structuring tasks around the time it takes to complete them, structure tasks around your energy—and encourage your employees to do the same.


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