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Spring Clean and Organise your Workspace

One of the blessings of living in the Constantia Valley is to experience the changing seasons through the life of the vines.  New shoots are emerging and the rose bushes at the end of each vine row are showing their new growth. The longer, sunnier days lift the spirits and all shout the same message – Spring is (almost) here!

This is a perfect time to take stock; of health, clothes, cupboards and plans for the longer days ahead.

I experienced great breakthroughs with my health and weight loss journey from May to September. Please see my previous blog posts for Breaking Bad Habits followed by Creating Better Habits. When you strengthen one discipline in your life it encourages you to strengthen others. So cleaning up my office space and tackling the paperwork was next.

Stop Wasting Time and Get Organised

It is estimated that the average businessperson can waste up to 6 weeks a year looking for papers/files that have been misplaced. Everywhere I looked there were papers that needed dealing with, on my desk, in all the drawers, in boxes on the floor, and on the sofa.

I wasted a huge amount of time and frustration searching for things that should have been filed, but were not! Why not? Quite simply the filing cabinet was so stuffed that there wasn’t room for one more piece of paper – so nothing could be put away.

Time to STOP and make some urgent changes. It took me a little longer out the blocks than I intended as I had to start with a frustrating search through my bookshelves to find my favourite organizing book: Julie Morgenstern’s  ‘Organizing from the Inside out’.

Easy Rules for Getting Organised

Her 1st Rule is ‘no zigzagging’ – a classic mistake when you decide to start getting organized.  STAY in one area/room/drawer until it is finished.

She recommends a process called SPACE, which is an acronym for:

S    = Sort
P    = Purge
A    = Assign
C    = Containerize
E    = Equalize

The goal is to sort the ‘stuff’ in the chosen area – let’s say my filing cabinet and asking the following questions:

Do I use this  NOW?
Do I like it STILL?
Does it cost or make me money?
What category does it belong?

So often we hang onto things that are out of date, or that we don’t like any more.

Once everything is sorted into their categories – Home, Finances, Business, Family – only then do you fully purge each subject before assigning it to the files or drawers where they belong. Then spend 10-15 minutes a day putting the day’s work away.

The Benefits of Better Organisation

10 days later my office space was transformed. Out went 5 full black bags of papers for recycling. My bookcase is now author or theme related (I know EXACTLY where Morgenstern’s book now sits!). My filing cabinet has been gutted, old files removed, others thinned, some re-named, all put away alphabetically and instantly findable. Everything has its place, and is in its place!

In the process of cleaning up the bookcase, I came across another book which called to me, David Allen’s “Getting Things Done – the art of stress-free productivity”. Having cleared out my workspace, I am now inspired to increase my productivity, so his title resonated clearly with my next goal.

My Next Goal – Improving Productivity

Allen writes “you can work virtually anywhere if you have a clean, compact system and know how to process your stuff rapidly and portably”. On one hand I had got my stuff organized, but the processing of my daily workflow was not what it needed to be. His book is full of fantastic, practical tips to improve productivity and I feel I am making daily progress.

His Getting Things Done (GTD) process can be done either electronically or on paper or both. He suggests a 2-hour slot for a Weekly Review to stay on top of everything.

Weekly Reviews to Close Loops

As with Morgenstern’s Equalize process, the Weekly Review ensures that you stay on top of your game.

Modern life is so fast-paced, with us wearing many hats in a day, from spouse, parent, business worker, friend, fitness, social and community worker.  We need to ensure that we are keeping track of it all and there are no ‘open loops’ in our head.

Allen’s GTD system at the foundation has you capture and close EVERY open loop. All those thoughts we have about “Ah, I need to do …”,  “Help, I forgot to do….”  “Oh, that reminds me… “ In every area of your life. The goal is to capture all of these either electronically or on paper in their specific categories and to ensure that your email, text and messages go to zero every week.

Now that’s a new challenge I am still working on but my head is feeling clearer of many other open loops. The items are recorded electronically so that I can see them daily and get to work on their next action.

The Results – Focus on Important Things

This has freed me up to focus more effectively on my time as spouse, parent and business owner.

I hope you will join me on this ‘Spring Clean’ in your home or life and I look forward to hearing your comments and breakthroughs.

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