Even Drew Barrymore is overwhelmed. “I had this guy leave me a voice-mail at work, so I called him at home … then he e-mailed me … so I texted him … you just have to go around checking all these different portals, just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It’s exhausting.” Barrymore’s boyfriend-starved character in the recent film, “He’s Just Not That Into You,” compels us to make some changes in our lives. I don’t know about Barrymore’s real life, but mine indeed gets overwhelmed, not just by technology, but by all the demands in my personal and business life. I often find myself with an overloaded e-mail inbox, unopened mail, piles of papers, client communication gone unanswered, marketing activities delayed again, and projects backed up. On the personal side, there just doesn’t seem to be time left, let alone enough energy to even try. There’s a feeling that everyone and everything else is running my life instead of me. I find myself getting resentful and even blaming others for sapping all my energy and precious time.

But then it’s time to stop … breathe … and shake it all off. And I mean literally shake off the negative thinking and energy, just like a wet dog shakes to dry off. Shifting into a different “state” (like putting your feet into a nice, hot foot spa) gets the energy restarted. Even catching yourself in that feeling of overwhelm and downward spiral thinking is hard to do, but it gets easier. Just being able to be aware of what you’re feeling and thinking is a great start, and the perfect beginning to create change. So what’s next if you want to do some spring cleaning, clearing out, making room, and moving forward?

Declutter Every Day
My friend Mary Jo throws something out every day. She has developed a fun practice of throwing out what she doesn’t need, whether she recycles it, donates it, or puts it in the trash. She’s made a fun game of it, waking up to “What am I going to get rid of today?” In the same way, consider what you don’t need in your salon or work life anymore. It could be old, dried-up product, a broken chair, or a cheap and cranky client who keeps coming back. Have fun figuring out what you don’t want anymore, and get rid of it! Take a few minutes and make a list of your “wants” and “don’t wants.” Make a list for both your personal and work life. The list should include not only physical objects, possibilities, and responsibilities, but also feelings and attitudes. (And you can have people on your list too!)
> I don’t want to feel frustrated. I do want to feel -appreciated.
> I don’t want to do anymore bookkeeping. I do want someone to help me keep my books in perfect order.
> I don’t want cheap, non-tipping clients. I do want more grateful and generous clients.

Think about relationships you enjoy and ones that you don’t. This can be a difficult one, but begin to be choosy about who is in your life. As you get clear on what and who you want and don’t want, you’ll be able to learn ways to make them happen.

Creating goals or writing a vision statement is one of the best ways to discover and manifest what you want. If you didn’t write goals or intentions at the beginning of the year, as a lot of people do, then now is the perfect time. Here’s one way to keep it easy: Write down three personal and three business objectives for the rest of the year. Keep it simple; just write whatever comes to your mind first, then fine-tune them. Now use these six objectives as a thermometer in your daily life. Before you say yes or no to any new opportunities or requests from others, give yourself time to measure them against your six objectives. You can always say, “Let me get back to you on that.” We often feel obligated to people and say “yes” before we seriously consider how it lines up with what we really want.

You spend a lot of time making your clients look good and feel good. They come to your salon because they know they’ll be well taken care of. Obviously you have the skills and talent to keep them coming back. What if you applied that same practice to yourself? What if you dropped everything else to do something for yourself, just as you do when a client walks in the door of your salon? When was the last time you did your nails first?

Say “yes” and “no” more often. If Barrymore had said no to the busy boyfriend earlier in the movie, then she would have had more time for herself, and less time attached to her Blackberry.

Brad Stauffer is a small business coach and marketing consultant. His company, Stauffer Media (www.StaufferMedia.com), provides business growth services to small businesses and solo entrepreneurs. He can be reached at Brad@StaufferMedia.com.

Five Quick Tips for Business
1. Make a “someday” file. As you come across business ideas, marketing pieces, or products you want, write it down and put it in your “someday” file. It keeps your ideas in one place without pressuring you for attention every day. Make a similar folder on your computer desktop for online discoveries.
2. List three easy marketing steps. Keep your marketing plan and activities simple. Take baby steps and focus on only three at a time. No more than one sentence for each step. Then tackle one per week.
3. Create a Client Circle. Invite five of your favorite and business-smart clients to participate in a focus group for feedback on your business and services. In return, upgrade their pedicure services for free once a month.
4. Get a Facebook account. Get up-to-speed on Facebook, Linked-In, or Twitter. Social networking keeps you connected to friends, family, and clients without the drudgery of personal e-mails. They are great marketing tools also.
5. Ask for help. Don’t do it alone. Remember the power of a simple request. It doesn’t hurt to ask someone for help on a marketing project or a simple task. Make simple requests of your colleagues.

Five Quick Tips
1. Make “fun” a priority. Get five sticky notes and write a fun activity on each one — something you’ve always wanted to do. Then stick them on your bathroom mirror as an everyday reminder.
2. Declutter for money. Instead of donating household items or old stuff, try selling them on eBay or craigslist. It can be more fun and put some dollars in your pocket too.
3. Partner for success. As you take steps to make changes, get an accountability buddy. Share short-term goals and help remind and encourage each other of what you want. Meet up for coffee or do it over e-mail.
4. Do some downtime. My friend Kat always says, “More downtime gives you more uptime.” When you’re rested and relaxed, you are more energized, inspired, and productive.
5. Connect more. Take time to get together with friends or family. Mail an old-fashioned birthday card once in a while. Think of favorite people you haven’t seen in a while and connect with them.

In this three-part spring cleaning guide we give you tips for clearing out the clutter in your appointment book, in your salon, and in your life. Check out our tips on Clearing Out the Clutter from Your Books here, and Check out our tips on Clearing Out the Clutter from Your Salon here.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.