Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. —Albert Einstein
WOW! What a powerful metaphor for our working lives as well. The same routines should be applied to the clutter, baggage, and remnants of disorder sitting on our desks, on our shelves, in our email, and between our ears within and around our offices. Talk about a clean slate! You’ve been granted a 12 month do-over. A chance to fix the shortcomings of the prior year(s) and begin again. Here are a few categories on which you might focus your cleanup efforts:
- Relationships – Ouch! The toughest one first! Start with a healthy dose of “let it go” followed by a persistent effort to make it better. Life is too short to carry relationship baggage from year to year. Whether it’s family, friends, or co-workers, make a concerted effort to clean it up as quickly as possible.
- Workspace – Clear off your desk. Clear off the top of your credenza. File it or toss it. Each of those piles represents some “dangling participle” in your life. Fix it by getting it done, filing it for later, or trashing it. Just get that clutter out of your work-space and out of your face.
- Automobile – Yep! Clean it out! Whether you use your vehicle for work or just commuting, it represents another living/working space for you. Remove trash, loose papers, kid’s toys, or any other clutter that is not directly associated with driving. The goal here is removing distractions and clutter. Do it! In the process, you’ll find that you like your vehicle a little bit more.
- Email – Perhaps the number one collector of clutter! Clean out that inbox with organization and delete, delete, delete! There are many excellent techniques for organizing your inbox – find a method and use it consistently for the entire year. You will feel better, be more organized and not have so much de-cluttering to do next year.
- Your Head – Our cleanup wouldn’t be complete without a bit of introspection! I mentioned relationships as a good place to begin. Chances are, some of your relationship challenges begin with your state of mind. Get out of your own head! Stop the negative self-talk. Drop the doubts. Quit second guessing. Stop saying your sorry! Forgive yourself first, others second, and make your life better in the process. Put goals in place. Embrace your resolutions. Workout. Eat right. Schedule spiritual and intellectual time into your day. Find reasons to be social and say “Yes!” to new opportunities and challenges.
For those of us in states with real winters, we’ve got a few months of cold and indoor living ahead. Make it easier by creating living and working spaces that foster clear-thinking and optimism. For all of us, clear thinking begins by dumping mental baggage and focusing on what we want to accomplish in our days. Own it by organizing, preparing, and pushing forward. Be intentional and you’ll feel more control even when things don’t go as desired.
When you have cleared all of your clutter, you can be of greater service to those around you. —Michael B. Kitson
NOTE: This post was first published in January 2015.