The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Business - Christine Kane

The great news is that your clients probably never lay eyes on your work-space.

So why would tidying up even matter?

I mean, some days you don’t even shower. (Oh come on, admit it.)

Well, in the words of Marie Kondo, best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

Well, the same goes for the space in which you work.

In other words, the things you see each and every day impact your business success because they impact your personal energy.

So let’s do some tidying up. Here are my 6 favorite places to start…

1) Clear piles

The reason you have piles is not because you’re a pig..  It’s because these random items do not have a place to go. Once you take the time to create a home – a file folder, a virtual file folder, a tag in Evernote – then you can sort your piles much faster.

The tedious part is determining where each item will go and creating the homes and the system.

If you accumulate piles, I recommend that you consider going paperless.  I’ve trained myself to take photos or scan the document (Turbo Scan is best)  – and file it right to Evernote, my top recommendation of all productivity apps.

Best resources for pile-clearing:

  • Organizing from the Inside Out Still my favorite organizing book of all time. Especially for creative minds who think they suck at organizing. This book will teach you how to think.
  • A Label MakerThis is a critical tool for that time when you are creating the homes for your papers to go to.
  • Evernote There’s a learning curve with Evernote. But it is, hands-down, my most used app. Especially good for going paper free.  You have to train yourself to use it regularly.
  • TurboScan Great app for scanning important documents in your paper free office.

2) Clean up your computer desktop

As things get frantic each week, you save everything to your desktop, don’t you? Photo from your mom? Into the desktop! Saving your latest blog post?  “Save to desktop!”


By Friday, is this how your desktop looks?

Over time, this practice will slow down your computer and drain your battery. (Not to mention your energy.)

Rather than shame yourself for not being more organized – try this…

Pick one day of the week, and make a non-negotiable checklist of little cleanup items that keep your business tidy. Mine is on Friday afternoons, and my checklist lives in Evernote:

friday checklist

Every Friday before the end of the day, this is my clean up habit.

3) Close browser tabs

She who opens lots of browser tabs needs to train herself to organize.

Here’s how I do it:

One window in my browser contains ONLY the tabs of current Google Docs I’m working on with my team.

Another whole window contains the learning programs I’m currently taking part in.

The third window contains my daily tabs:  gmail, calendar, etc.

I use different desktops to keep those windows so I’m not seeing them all at once.

Get the idea? Don’t crowd it all into one window and feel overwhelmed.

Another habit that helps my brain stay focused:  Whenever I find a new bright shiny object or a website I want to visit later… I do NOT leave that tab open indefinitely. Instead, I click on the Evernote icon and send that link right to Evernote.  (Tag it with “TO-DO” or “RESEARCH” or the tag you use to not lose track of something.)  Then I close the tab and I’m done with it.

The more tabs you have open, the more stress you will feel.

4) Reduce electrical cord chaos

You know the deal:  You go to unplug your phone charger only to find yourself in a wrestling match with the laptop charger, the speaker charger and about 4 other mystery cords and plugs.  Not something that drains you all the time – but is enough of a pain in the ass that it’s worth dealing with.

Here’s a great product to help:

E-BOX – Power Cable Box

5) Have a zero-tolerance policy for crappy pens

How many of your pens are either out of ink, don’t work, or are from a conference from three years ago (How did I get five pharmaceutical pens?)

The tools you use daily impact your energy daily.  Never underestimate the power of a pen that makes you want to write!


I love certain pens so much, I make Facebook posts about them!

Having a zero-tolerance policy is not just for crappy pens. It’s for crappy anything: Desk chair, rug, lighting. Your business is your income source, right? Surround yourself with equipment and accessories that uplevel you!

6) Tidy up the stuff your customer sees.

There are things online we don’t always pay attention to or think about, but they represent you as a business. Prospects or clients might see these on a daily basis. My team checks and updates these things regularly to see if they need any fine-tuning or repairs.

Here’s your Virtual Tidying Up Checklist:

1 – Regularly make sure links on your site/blog don’t end up in a dead zone or error message.

2 – Check your email signature to make sure it’s up to date and has a clear message.

3 – Check your About page on social media platforms. Revise for clarity.

4 – Do a Google search on your name and business. Make sure the results are correct.

5 – Check your out-going voicemail message that clients hear.  Re-record it if needed.

When you tidy up your business, you giving it the attention it needs. In turn, you’re making space for your personal energy to move more effortlessly.   Then, get back to doing the amazing work you do!

  • Jean Moree

    Oh my goodness, this is exactly what I need right now! I have a pile on my desk, a pile on my printer, my computer and external hard drives ALL need organizing. This is motivating me to systematically tackle this problem.

  • Amy Breazeale

    I started doing #3 awhile back and it is a huge help! I heard the phrase “closing loops” at one point and it stuck with me. I close loops and it’s not as much stress! 🙂 Have a blessed day!

  • Dawn Matze

    hi Christine, i love your style of writing, communicating and just genuine and honest way about you, no bullshit approach to business. i have been hesitating to join your programs because i want to mske sure its appropriate for me. i am a woman General Contractor for almost 30 years, i am a boutique builder/remodeler and need to identify/ and start marketing myself. i dont like the way i charge (not enough) and want to break out into a full blown Woman Builder Icon in San Diego, but need my message marketed correctly. can you help? My goal is $250k a year- $500k

  • Lauren

    What a simple, great list of things to do to keep your business tidy. Oh, and the cable management box, genius. Thank you.

  • Dena Lefkowitz

    This post has so many great ideas and the one I am doing THIS weeks is getting rid of crappy pens. That speaks to me. I have a nice one from Click that is a keeper – stylish design and writes well. Everything else goes!! Thanks Christine.

  • Simom

    Christine, this is brilliant. You real mustered the art of life. I have liked this translation.
    I have started up with the uplevel program.

  • Mellissa de Oliveira

    This was a perfect article for today! My desktop is a minefield….and on my to do list every day is to create a semblance of sanity in my computer space. More of my time is wasted just trying to find a document, picture, or piece of info. And my tabs are insane. Crazy computer, crazy brain, crazy business. Thanks so much!!

    What is your go-to for tax related items/receipts for small, super small businesses and a touchy feely, what’s in front of you person? Turbo scan? Manila folder?

    • Christine Kane

      my answer is this: a really good bookkeeper. melissa, you sound like our clients. and i’m sorry to say, no amount of turbo scans will help when you are that creative and entrepreneurial! (I take photos of all my receipts and email them immediately to my assistant who keeps track of them all for my bookkeeper. But i used to send it all just to my bookkeeper. Don’t worry about turbo scan. just take a photo and be done with it!)

  • Sally

    THIS: “The reason you have piles is not because you’re a pig. It’s because random items do not have a place to go.” Yay! Universal invitation to move into a bigger house! Yeah, okay, and to go paperless. I get it. Then I run into the issue of more storage space. No matter where I go (my phone, Amazon, Google, Dropbox), I seem to run out of space. I have not used Evernote. Is that the best next step?

    • Christine Kane

      Sally – if Evernote were a person, I’d make out with it. That’s how much I love it.

  • Cheryl

    All great tips ! Thank you for the reminders. We all get so busy that when life gets hairy so does everything around us. I just changed my phone message. I love writing with a good fine felt tip and have been doing a lot more of that lately. I literally did a spring cleaning of my desk last week. It just feels like a breath of fresh air now. And I might leave this tab open to re-read (is that bad!?) : )

    • Christine Kane

      Of course not Cheryl! You are always welcome to leave this tab open! 🙂

  • Heléna

    Ha ha, your emails always come at the right time. I was in the middle of doing a clean up when I opened my mailbox and saw this.

    Thanks so much. You always give me ideas.

  • Nanette

    Wonderful tips for organizing our lives and work spaces to make us more productive, efficient and just plan happier. 🙂
    My Evernote is Trello. I love its drag and drop interface for keeping me on track with projects, and sharing tasks and updates with collaborators. Every Monday morning, I spend 15 minutes updating my week-at-a-glance Trello board and update projects I didn’t get around to updating the previous week. It gives me a sense of accomplishment right at the start of the work week and allows me to ease into actual work. 🙂
    The E-Box power cable hideaway is awesome. My excessively neat personality (well, OK, some might call it “anal-retentive”) honed right in on that as a must-have!
    Thanks for a really useful blog, Christine!

  • Phyllis Levinson

    Christine, I both laughed and cringed at various parts of this terrific post. Laughed at the pen discussion – only recently did I get fed up with free pens from god-knows-where, and bought myself new pens. Cringed over the filing and lighting. I always have too many unread emails because they contain useful information, e.g., blog posts, articles, book suggestions, that I will get to “some day.” Clearly, I need to put them in a folder labeled “some day.” Thanks for always keeping the important details in mind – they are so very helpful and make such a huge difference.

  • Corinne

    Hi Christine,
    Your comments on cleaning up your business clutter are much more helpful than organizing my sock drawer! Thank you for the translation.

  • Donna Kozik

    Fabulous post, Christine! You share such good information!

  • Carla Wethers Bell

    This was an excellent article…though your articles are always eye opening. Thanks for the great reminder.

  • Ulrika Shaw

    Thank you Christine for all the great information. This was just the reminder that I needed!

  • Heather

    I’m surprised that you didn’t talk about getting your email inbox to zero (or similar). This is a huge goal of mine this year and so far I am finding it nearly impossible. I am trying to unsubscribe to as many newsletters as I can, but even the ones I subscribe to take up my time to read. I know I can redirect them to Evernote, but I know they will get lost in there. What do you do you to control your inbox?

    • Christine Kane

      Heather – Yup, the reason I don’t write about inbox zero is because i am not consistent with that – nor do I think it is necessarily the most effective goal. The best tactic i have ever used for that is to create a filter where if the word “unsubscribe” is in the body of the email – send it to a folder called “Optional.” This means that all of your “ezine” type emails will go to a folder where you can choose to read it at will. with this filter in place, my inbox is pretty much always covered – because only my most important emails get to me during the day. Does this make sense?

  • Gail

    Evidence of my firms clean desk policy was the focus of today’s already scheduled post. Great minds think alike. Thanks for lots of other good tips too.

  • Amy

    Great tips! I love Evernote and Turbo Scan too. I’m going to check out that pen. It looks lovely 😊

  • Julie Bestry

    I couldn’t agree more — in fact, you’re making the points I make to my clients every day. As a professional organizer, part of my job is to be a good role model for my clients for clarity — with tangible items, temporal items (tasks) and thoughts. How can I model good clarity of thought if I have to pick through half a dozen pens to find one that works? In addition to an organized physical and digital space (yay, Evernote, as well as Dropbox), I use only Pentel Energel 0.7mm metal point pens. No smudging, no skips — my only worry is making sure my penmanship is readable.

    To #s 2 and 6, I’d note that clearing one’s tablet and phone are important, too, because our clients see those apps and browser tabs, too!

  • Yolanda

    Thank you for this timely article. I don’t work well in clutter so I am constantly whittling down the stacks that pile up during the week. I clean the desktop and my documents often. I wouldn’t be able to find anything!

    Also, love, love my TUL pens! Mine has a rose gold tip which is so pretty. I also give them as gifts.

    Your blogs are always on point as well as your programs. Thank you again.

  • Natalie

    Just saved this article in Evernote. In my ‘Creating Order’ notebook. 😉

  • Jenna Sita

    Such wonderful tips, tools, and ideas! The subject for clearing and organizing has been coming up for me a lot lately and your email is the catalyst to prioritize this task TODAY! I know how important it is and I will see a lot of positive energy flow in the more I clear and organize.
    Thank you and Much Love!
    P.S. Saving sites, blogs, articles, etc., to Evergreen to read later…So helpful.

  • Diotima

    I’ve been working on going paperless for years now, and I think I’m pretty much there. Evernote is so helpful for that. Another good scanning app that integrates fully with Evernote is Scannable, though it took some time for me to remember to snap the darn photo and toss the paper, instead of stuffing things in my purse.

    That E-box thing looks great, I may have to try it. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Cindy

    Oh I just love how you are teaching me to be a business woman. I never thought I could do it. I’m at the beginning of building a real business for the first time after sticking my toe in and out of a million creative ventures. I’m down for it this time and ready to make it! Thanks Christine.

  • Joanne

    Awesome tips Christine – I always feel like you’ve got a webcam into my life. Know your customer, right? Now to implement …

  • Michelle Belanger

    Any suggestions for finding online directories for my carpentry or music business?

  • Shannon

    So super siked about getting organized after reading this and leaving Uplevel Bonus day today. Thank you Christine for your vision and your helping me see out from under all the layers!!!
    Feeling grateful….

  • Kelli

    Thanks, Christine! Very timely! The “tab” piece was very helpful as I contemplate three computers, each with overflowing browser tabs! Too many bright shining objects grabbing my attention…Oh the joys of the ADD mind! 🙂

  • Lauren Brown

    I totally do the same thing on Fridays — clean up my computer desktop! Another thing I do is give fun names to my various tasks. When I’m working at home on Tuesdays and Fridays I call it “workshop,” which yes, that term makes me happy somehow. Maybe because in a workshop cool things are created and produced. And my weekly review (sort of a merge between the GTD concept and the Sunday Summit) I call my Sparkle Session.

  • Liz

    Sorry to be pedantic but I really think you mean kerb appeal not curb appeal.

    Curb is to restrain….



    • Christine Kane

      nope. we mean “curb appeal” – it’s a popular show on HGTV – and a term that landscape architects use for creating more external appeal from the outside view of the home. 🙂

    • Heléna Kurçab

      Thank you Christine. One of the ways I have been cleaning up and simplifying recently is by unsubscribing from emails that no longer align with my biz. I am happy to say that yours does. Thank you for what you take the time to share.