How often have you looked around your office and home, and been shocked by the amount of “junk” you have accumulated and have never gotten rid of? Getting rid of the clutter can not only clean up your space, but it can also be quite liberating and free up your productivity. The junk can clog up both our lives and our computers.
Part of the problem is that hard drive space is very cheap in today’s market. Our hard drives are so large that we have plenty of space, so we save “everything.” If you decide to save all these things, at least organize them into folders so you can find them in a few clicks. How many times have you saved files, only to never be able to find them again. Cleaning up your computer is like cleaning out your closet. If you haven’t looked at it (or worn it) in over a year, it is probably time to delete it (or at least archive it off of the computer).
When organizing your files, start with broad categories such as business, personal, and finance. Under these folders, get more specific. Put your files in the proper folders. Name the files in a manner that makes sense, where you can find them later. Also, ensure that you have enough folders so that you are not scanning hundreds of files to find the file you are looking for.
Next, look at your desktop. How cluttered is it, really? Can you see the vacation photo on your background, or is it hidden by a sea of icons? If it is, you probably waste a lot of time searching for the icon you want. Minimize the numbers of icons as much as possible. Only put the icons on your desktop that you need daily. Keep documents off of your desktop, and put them in the proper folder.
Now, let’s take a look at your email Inbox. I know this can be a scary place, but it is a necessary step. How many emails are currently in your Inbox? 75? 150? Once you are finished with an email, get it out of your Inbox. If you need to keep the email, then create subfolders in your Inbox. If you keep your Inbox clean, it will seem less overwhelming when you open up your email. Also, avoid constantly checking your email. I’m sure we have all gotten caught up in the “email trap,” where nothing gets done because you keep stopping to reply to incoming mail.
Another good email management tool is to create rules to automatically take actions on certain emails for you. This will reduce the amount of time that you have to spend dealing with your email, allowing you to spend more time working on other things.
Now that you computer is cleaned up, take a step back and look around your office. How cluttered is it? Just like a cluttered computer can distract you and lower your productivity, a cluttered office can create distractions and keep you from getting things done.
If organizing the office is too much to tackle at one time, then spend a little time each day until the job is finished. The key is to de-junk. Shred any papers you don’t need. If you aren’t sure if you will need it again, then create a two-step process. Keep a tub for things you aren’t sure if you will need, and keep these items for a week or two, and then shred everything you know you are finished with. Additionally, get rid of any distractions in your office that you don’t need. Does the television in the corner of your home office really make you more productive?
Now tackle your whiteboard or bulletin board. How many notes on there are old? It’s time to clean off old messages and only keep what is current. If you don’t keep this current, and it merely becomes a black hole for sticky notes, you will never see the important notes.
Finally, work smarter. Take time off to spend with your family or do things you enjoy. At a certain point, the additional hours make you less productive, and you can actually get fewer things done. Everyone needs time to recharge. Make sure you take the time to do it.
As a reminder, take the following steps to de-clutter your life:
- Organize your computer files.
- Clean off excess icons.
- Trash emails.
- Clean papers off of your desk.
- Get your message board up-to-date.
- Work smarter, not longer.
As always, remember that here at KARTHOST.com, we aren’t successful unless you are.
Head Host Master