It’s Time for Spring Cleaning

Posted on March 19, 2014.

Hard to believe but despite the lingering snow and cold weather throughout a big part of the country, tomorrow is the first day of spring.  In addition to welcoming a new season, spring evokes the idea of rebirth, renewal and cleaning!

It’s time to stop procrastinating and making excuses and just do it! Embarking on any cleansing or purging routine can overwhelm even the most organized person. So it’s best to break the task down into steps:

1.    Step 1- start with your email. Stop finding other tasks to distract you. Just close your door, or put a “do not disturb” sign on your cube, turn off your phone and get to it.  It helps to start by sorting your inbox by either subject or sender. You can then tackle requests and information in an orderly manner.  Don’t stop until you see white space!

2.    Step 2- clean off your desk.  A messy desk is a sign of disorganization.  Not being organized means it takes you longer to find things. The longer it takes to find the information you need, the longer it takes to make decisions and complete tasks.  I know you think you can put your finger on what you need right away, but I’ve never actually witnessed that behavior. Throw out that pile of reading you know you’re never going to get to. Try to move as much as you can to electronic files.  Done correctly, the only thing on your desk should be your computer, a pen, paper and your “to do” list.

3.    Step 3- organize your files.  This means not only the files in your cabinet, but the files on your computer.   Go through each paper file and purge anything that you don’t need to do your job. Know what the record retention policy is for your company and if necessary, box older files and send them to the warehouse.  No doubt you have some files in your drawer that are also on your computer so just toss whatever is duplicated. Make sure you shred anything that’s confidential.  After tackling the drawer, move to your computer and make sure you’ve set up document files that make sense.  Is most of your information stored in email files? Force yourself to go through them, delete what you don’t need and save the essentials under your new document files. 

4.    Step 4- have some fun. You’re the boss so why not create a full day of spring-cleaning in the office. Order in some pizza and have a contest.  Find an independent party to come in and inspect the offices and cubicles.  Make sure they check file cabinets and underneath desks, which is where the “hoarders” tend to stash things so they can pretend that they’re neat and orderly. Give out prizes for best filing system or cleanest office.

Once you’re done, you will be amazed at how good you feel.  Instead of feeling stressed and overwhelmed, you’ll feel like you can handle anything thrown at you.  Your ability to be responsive will go up exponentially and decisions will be made in half the time.  So stop making excuses and spring into action!

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