April 19, 2010

Spring Cleaning to Improve Productivity


It is finally the spring season! We have hibernated all winter and now we have opened the windows to hear the birds sing and see the flowers and trees bloom. It is time to start our spring cleaning. We clean the windows in order to see outside better and clean out closets to better find the things we need. When things are clean and organized, we feel more productive and energized.

Why not have an office spring cleaning to capture that feeling of productivity at work too? Some of you may be thinking we cannot even open the windows in our building. So forget the windows, there are many other things you can do for your Work Spring Cleaning. Here are a few ideas: 
  • Bust the Dust Take everything off your desk (yes, everything!) and clean the surface thoroughly. Clean your telephone, computer and keyboard too. Do you have a credenza and file cabinets in your work area? If so, bust the dust on those surfaces too. Were you surprised at the amount of dust that accumulated, especially in the corners?
  • File the Pile – Now that you have cleaned everything off the surface, you probably have piles of paper. Alan Lakein, author of How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life likes to say "Handle each piece of paper only once." What this means is you start at the top of your pile, pick up the first piece and not put it down until you do something with it. That "something" could be to: a) throw it away, b) file it or c) give it to someone else. But remember the rules; do not pick up the next piece of paper until you do something with the first.
  • Dunk the Junk – As you are filing your piles, you may find things to throw away. We sometimes horde information thinking we may need it someday. When the "somedays" add up to months and years and we have never needed it, it is time to get rid of it. Before you start dunking the junk, ask your company about required retention of documents and proper disposal. Some information may be confidential requiring shredding instead of just throwing it in the waste basket.
  • Complete the Delete – Open your email box. Does it contain current and important emails or thousands of unnecessary and old emails? Your email inbox and sent box need spring cleaning too. Follow the rules in File the Pile and handle each email only once with a) delete, b) file in a specific online folder or c) send it to someone else (and then delete).
  • Know the Flow – There are files and information you access on a regular basis. If you know the flow of your regular work you can locate the most frequently accessed information at your fingertips. Keep track of what you typically need for about a week. Things you rarely use can be moved further away.

Happy spring cleaning and enjoy your new productivity!

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