As winter seems to hold out longer than it should, we are faced with the hope of springtime. But spring cleaning can feel like a real chore, both in your personal and professional life. Nonetheless, giving this process a little time and energy can benefit you in multiple ways.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about the rewards of spring cleaning, for both your physical space and your headspace:
Productivity and efficiency
When everything is in its rightful place, your life becomes more efficient. Once you know where everything is, you don’t have to waste time in the search. If you know where everything is, you won’t have to waste any time fumbling around. A clean space is inspiring and that helps you to be at your best.
Fewer things fall through the cracks
It’s easy to forget important tasks and projects when there’s no system in place to keep you on track.
Spend more time accomplishing goals and less time focused on decluttering your inbox or trying to find your to-do list. When you let items pile up, it can stand as a reminder of the projects you have to finish or goals you have yet to accomplish. Clutter holds us back.
When you are proud of the space you are in, it naturally elevates your mood. Clutter can make you cranky and serves as a constant reminder that things are not in the place that you want them, causing sadness, anger and even self-scorn.
Turn the page and let go of the past
Oftentimes, we are tempted to keep material things for sentimental value long after they have lost their relevance. Whether it is old mementos or presentation decks for projects that never launched, these things can carry a lot of emotional weight. Get rid of anything that drags you down.
The stress of clutter can be caused by the general lack of organization and the inability to find things when you need them, guilt over not using the items you own, and even confusion over what you really want and need in your life. Living in a chaotic environment where the physical setting is noisy and disorganized can hold you back from getting things done and feeling a sense of accomplishment.
Organize your physical environment
Let’s start with the physical — your immediate space at home and at work. Think about the nature of your life and how your home, desk or workspace needs to function. Keep that list in mind to make sure your refreshed space will improve workflow, rather than hinder it.
- Throw things out: Get rid of unnecessary items and additional clutter. If it’s not something you use frequently, you probably don’t need it.
- Put things away: Put your most frequently used items within reach and less frequently used items in drawers or out of sight. Your actual desktop should have only the items you use every day.
- Keep it minimal: A few small items, such as fresh plants, a nice coffee mug or a family photo are fine, but excess items will introduce unwanted clutter. Everything should have clear purpose.
Organize your digital space
We don’t often think about digital organization in the same way we think about physical organization, but it can have an even greater impact and may improve productivity.
- Records management (delete as much as possible): At least annually, you should be organizing and destroying (as permitted) digital trash. Remember to be thoughtful and pragmatic about what you really need. Digital hygiene is just as important as bathing regularly.
- Cleaning your email inbox: If you are under a barrage of emails daily, you need to get clarity and organization in your inbox. Utilizing folders, keeping automated filing systems and having only immediate-action items in your inbox can help you stay streamlined at home and at work.
Take out the emotional trash
Emotional baggage can weigh us down in ways we don’t perceive initially. Holding on to grudges, for example, means maintaining the energy to continue conflict in our minds and cluttering our emotional dashboard. As a society, we glorify tough love and hard work, but this often comes to the detriment of the individuals left holding the bags.
- Find a willing set of ears: Emotions are there for a reason, and they are not going anywhere until you address them. To the extent that you can find someone to help you work through some of the challenges at work or at home, you can get perspective and make some better decisions about how to address the challenges you are facing.
- Establish healthy new habits as you clear the negative space: Once you decide to clear out emotions that aren’t serving you at work or at home, make sure you keep tabs on moments when you fall into old habits. Create boundaries to negative patterns of behavior.
- Find mental clarity: When working in a dysfunctional space, it is normal to feel as if you’re on information overload or that you can’t focus on priorities. Take short breaks throughout the day to reflect and reset on a regular basis.
The old adage “less is more” has so many meanings. In relationship to our work and professional lives, the more we have, the more anxiety, things and tasks can provoke. Spring cleaning is the perfect time for new beginnings.