Spring has finally sprung, and with the start of the new season it’s time for us to do a bit of spring cleaning. As is traditional spring is the time where we clear our closets of things we don’t wear, and clean our homes from top to bottom and discard all those unwanted items. Spring cleaning is always associated with fresh beginnings, and fresh starts, and getting things right for the rest of the year. Since we make this association with our lives and spring it only makes sense that we also spring clean that area of our life that is responsible for us having and maintaining our standard of living, our office and work areas. There are three main areas that we should pay attention to when it comes to our work space.
The first area is our work desk. Many of us have desks and draws that are so filled with clutter that we don’t even go into them anymore because naturally nothing of use can be found in them. Many times we put things in our desk draws and inevitably forget about them, and many of those items that are in our draws can technically be thrown away. Now is a good time before the year gets too busy to go through those draws and do a spring clean of all the junk that has accumulated over time. If you use the draws for file storage, set up a system where only things that are only needed for work are put in those files and draws, all other stuff for personal use can go else where. A neat and organised draw will make it better to find what you need. And when looking for something you will spend less time searching and more time doing some productive work.
On the desk that pen holder full of pens that are either broken or empty needs to be decluttered. I know some things have sentimental meaning, I still have a pen set that I was given when I graduated from university years ago, but sitting on my desk is not the place for it. Something of meaning should have a place to be stored. On your work desk should only be the things that are necessary for your work. Yes pictures are fine but if you have a desk full of pictures and nowhere to work then you probably have too many pictures. Keeping your work desk as clear as possible helps to focus the mind and keep it clear. When our desks are cluttered, the clutter acts as a distraction and hence lowers our productivity rate. So clear those desks of unnecessary distractions and get back to work.
With our desk and draws uncluttered and clear the second area of cleaning is our computers. Many of us make our living solely by PC, we create reports, we write, we Skype, we use them daily and for long periods. If something happened to our computers/laptops we would be lost and in many cases our businesses would grind to a halt. In this day of working remotely and doing almost everything by computer it makes sense that we keep our number one working tool finely tuned. I regularly go through my program file and see what programs are there, many times when we download stuff we get additional programs added to our file. And yes even though you click the do not download this it will sometimes still be added to your computer. I have found that going through the program files and deleting unwanted files helps declutter the computer and releases memory that can be used on something useful. In conjunction with deleting unwanted programs you can also run the defragment program on your computer to free up space also.
If you have an antivirus software or any type of protection for your computer, now would be a good time to run a full scan of your computer and give it a good clean. Running a scan, depending on which virus protection or software you have, will help prevent unwanted programs, viruses, trojans, etc. There are many times we stop our programs from running these scans because we are too busy, but they are a good thing and need to be done not only at spring cleaning time, but at least at the end of each quarter, or more frequent if you can. You would be amazed at how much faster your computer will run after a full scan and clean up.
The third area we should spring clean is our emails. Have you ever noticed that you’ll get an email and you don’t have the time to read it so you create a folder and put that email in there for later. But later never came and the email is still in that folder along with numerous others. I’ve done that. Some times emails look interesting and you think, “I’ll take a look at that later,” and then you put it into your saved folder, or whatever name you’ve called it. Two years later it’s still there. With the amount of emails that we receive daily sometimes things look so interesting that we are tempted to put them aside to read either at the end of the day, week, or over the weekend. As we all know life happens and those emails never get touched. So if you have one of those folders or files in your email account by all means go ahead and delete it with its contents. Chances are if you haven’t read anything in there that was of use to you before there won’t be anything of use to you now, so hit delete.
Also since you’re cleaning out your email folders it’s a good time to go through all your email folders and clean them out. If the emails are for old projects that you worked on and completed in the last 18 months then go ahead and archive them. If they’re older than 18 months then you can delete them. I know there are places and people who need to keep emails or files and such for five years and more, but for many independent contractors, executive assistants, virtual assistants, there is a limit to how much you can keep, and in many cases with the confidentiality agreements you sign the work that’s done does not belong to you it is ultimately your clients. So with that said there is no need to keep work for clients that you did over an extended period of time. So those files and emails can be deleted. Yes of course you will still keep their contact information and any contractual information you have but the back and forth emails in some cases does not need to be kept and can be discarded to declutter your email.
These are usually the three main areas that cause us the most grief when it comes to working, our computers, our emails, and our work desks. If you keep these clutter free after this spring cleaning then hopefully it should help you to be more productive for the rest of the year. Now all we have to do is get our filing systems in order.
Happy spring cleaning.