5 Ways Decluttering Makes you a Better Entrepreneur

As the saying goes, it’s “out with the old, in with the new”, but it seems like most of us today only subscribe to “in with the new”…leaving “the old” cluttering up space in our homes and offices. The amount of stuff we all have takes up valuable space, creating crowded and unorganized workspaces, which is completely unnecessary since 80% of what we file away, we’ll never use again. The art of decluttering is so complicated for us that organizational businesses (where individuals come and systemize your belongings) are booming in the US.

On the flip side, the life of an entrepreneur can be extremely chaotic. Most entrepreneurs invest in multiple businesses, serve prominent positions in different startups, and travel the length of the country (or the world) to speak, present, and raise funds. The term “organized entrepreneur” is an oxymoron simply because the time entrepreneurs should take to organize is spent analyzing data, evaluating new companies, and, if permitted, sleeping.

But decluttering your office, surroundings, computer, teams, and life can actually make you a better entrepreneur. If you take time each day to organize, you will be a better businessperson and get more done; here are five reasons why:

Decluttering Reduces Stress

In the startup world, stress levels can easily go from 1 to 10: funding falls through, a bad article comes out, a team member quits. Unfortunately, all of this can happen in a day, leaving you to pick up the pieces. Having a lot of mess around you, doesn’t help:

Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.. – Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D, Why Mess Causes Stress

If your day is already stressful, and most likely it is, Dr. Bourg notes, “clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.” By having a more organized space, your stress level can be reduced because you are more likely to focus on the problem at hand.

Less Stress Makes you More Creative and Open to Learn

Learning new skills (or learning from past mistakes) is key to being a successful entrepreneur. Too much stress, however, can inhibit that. Forbes interviewed Rick Hanson Ph.D., a California-based neuropsychologist, who studied how stress hinders creativity:

As ten-thousand studies have shown, when you are chronically stressed, you’re less able to be at your best. Particularly when you’re talking about a knowledge economy which really places a high premium on creativity.

Scientists have also studied that an inhibitor of long-term memory retention is stress, causing us to not only be forgetful but to be less able to learn new traits. If stress has this much impact on learning and creativity, entrepreneurs should seek to eliminate it as much as possible, and one way to do this is by decluttering.

Being Organized Makes you Healthier

When you’re around this much stress (that clutter can create), your immune system is compromised. “When you’re surrounded by more things than you can manage, it sends a visual message that your life is out of control,” the Mayo Clinic reported. This stress can have negative effects on your body – from heart to head to lungs. Organization, in general, is one way to combat this.

Searching for Lost Items Wastes A Lot of Time

If you’re an entrepreneur, time is one thing that is not on your side. We’re constantly trying to find ways to save time when we should be looking at what wastes time. According to Forbes ASAP, the typical executive today wastes 150 hours a year, almost one month, searching for lost information; this can range from searching for documents on a computer to papers on a desk.  Imagine having one month of work hours back in your life by just organizing your computer files and desk space. A 2008 NAPO survey found that 27% of office workers said they feel disorganized at work, and of those, 91% said they would be more effective and efficient if their workspace was better organized. Organizing your desk before you leave at night is one way you can start each day fresh and decluttered.

Decluttering Saves Money

We know that being unorganized wastes 150 hours per year at the executive level, so what does that translate to in terms of finances?

  • For an executive earning $75,000 a year, that translates to a loss of $9,221 – 12.3 percent of total earnings.  For a company with one hundred executives at that salary, it translates to nearly $1 million in lost productivity. – Simply Productive
  • Stephanie Winston, author of The Organized Executive, estimates a manager loses 1 hour/day to disorder, costing the business up to $4,000/yr if earning $35,000/yr – or $8,125/yr at $65,000).

Businesses are throwing away money because employees are unorganized; productivity is lost, and money is wasted due to a fixable problem. Entrepreneurs have to be extremely financially savvy, so being organized can save money, which can then be allocated elsewhere.

Decluttering your workspace, computer, teams, and tasks can ultimately make you a better entrepreneur. Even taking 15 minutes per day to organize can save you time and money and allow you to use those vital resources where they need to be used. To be an effective entrepreneur, it’s important to reduce stress, and since there are so many stressors you cannot control, try starting with decluttering to get the ball rolling towards a more relaxed life.

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Written by:
Serial entrepreneur and the co-founder and COO of Gone , an on-demand selling service that helps users rid unwanted items. Follow him @orlandopablo
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