Jump Start Your Productivity With Spring Cleaning

by Shonali Burke on April 16, 2010

Now that your taxes are done (I hope!), are you cleaning up the rest of your clutter?

OK, maybe you don’t react to the first signs of spring with a ‘wow, let’s get rid of the clutter and mess’ moment.  Not my first thought certainly.  Mine runs to the beauty: trees turning every shade of green, flowers poking up, and the rainbow which flowering trees and shrubs add.

But clearing out the clutter is well worth a bit of your time and effort.  It helps you focus on what is really important and reduces distraction and depression.

At work, spring cleaning can be a great way to re-focus on what is important.

Whether you do a marathon clean one day or 30 minutes each morning for two weeks, you can enhance your effectiveness and productivity.

I just got rid of three boxes of 1990s paper files –the client sold his company in 2002.  And a fast review of those piles around my desk resulted in more things going into the recycle bin than the action box.

My vice is paper – books, articles, research papers, clippings. Yours may be all the stuff you get at trade shows, business cards from meeting, publications you mean to read, or the business development ideas you have stuffed everywhere.

Clean it all out! Either take action or make it go away.

Most offices have duplicate copies of files, business records, and client information.  Get rid of them.  Then treat yourself to a small reward.

Or, if you have staff, you can make it a game.  Offer a prize for the most paper put into recycle boxes.

Sure, you need to have some guidelines so that you do not lose valuable information, but simple ones will suffice.  And everyone will have an easier time finding what they need, storing the stuff that they currently are piling up, and getting on to important achievements.

Do you have unused equipment, furniture,  or supplies?  Donate it to a local non-profit for a tax deduction.  Electronics you no longer use?  Goodwill takes them as do many other vital community organizations.  More stuff than you realized?  Have a sale.

Free your space, free your mind, and feed your community all at once.

Don’t forget your computer – how many old files do you have? Or unused versions of software?  Delete and remove.  Organize master client files on a back-up so you too can throw out those old file boxes.  And clean up everything you must retain.

To make a real impact at work, clean out your old policies and practices.  Update your networking.  Review how you work.  What are you doing mindlessly or “just because” ?

Too many of us have practices which are not actually needed or no longer relevant. Yet they clog up the works and divert attention from more important issues.

Make time to look at each aspect of your business – what can you stop doing? (Ask your staff for ideas too.)

Can you feel yourself growing lighter?  Your business getting faster?  Do you reach for something and find it immediately now?

The rewards for a good spring cleaning once were reductions in illnesses and discomfort at home. You can still achieve some of those at home and at work.

More importantly, a little time on spring cleaning at work can free your mind and your workspace.  It helps you get back to doing the work that you love and to growing your business meaningfully.

So grab your recycle bin, pull out the dusting gloves, line up your donations, and fill up those trash cans… and I’ll buy coffee for the one who cleans out the most!

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Image: Diego Sevilla Ruiz, Creative Commons

Regular contributor Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, speaker, and executive with expertise in human capital. Launching a new Women Grow Business series on human resources for small business, Patricia is founder of Strategies for Human Resources. She helps small to mid-size organizations achieve their goals through more effective human capital strategy and management. She can be reached through her website SHRinsight.com, where archives for her ongoing management series can be found.

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