How Decluttering your Corporate and Personal Brand makes you a better CEO

A few years back, one of my first CEO’s was a fabulous lady called “Signora X”, unfortunately her company sank and as ship’s captain, she sank too. What triggerered this tragic ending? Her life was a chaos and that chaos trickled into her company and today it is no longer.

Signora X lived in a cluttered and messy home, her marriage was messay, her negative relations abused her kindness. At work, her office was another chaos, a mountain of paperwork collecting dust, emails left unanswered and deadlines not met. Her anxiety and stress poured onto her staff who disrespected her and her smart candidates left for other opportunities as soon as they could. Chaos eliminated Signora X.

With the new year ahead of us, this may be an opportunity for us to step back, sit-down and contemplate on our own life as an individual and as a company CEO.

Based on life guru’s such as Marie Kondo “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and Steve Jobs I thought I would share with you tips to declutter your life for a successful 2016.

The saying goes, “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 life of a company CEO can be extremely chaotic. Most executives 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 Ceo” is an oxymoron simply because the time CEO’s should take to organize is spent analyzing data, evaluating new companies, and, if permitted, sleeping.

But decluttering your computer, office(s), home, teams, investors, friends and life in general can actually make you a better leader. 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 Growth Company 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

When you are chronically stressed, you’re less able to be at your best. 

Scientists have 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 people and objects.

Being Organized Makes you Healthier

When you’re around this much stress (that people and clutter can create), your immune system is compromised. “When you’re surrounded by more negative people and 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. Life Organization, in general, is one way to combat this.

Searching for Lost Items Wastes A Lot of Time

If you are a Growth Company CEO, then 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. 

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, negative people and tasks can ultimately make you a better CEO. 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 CEO, 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 succesful 2016.

Vanessa Abi-Rached, The Little Red Book of IR