As we begin to shed our winter coats and dust off the cobwebs in preparation for the revitalization of spring, it’s always refreshing to do a little tidying up. The cold months bog us down with clutter — both in our physical spaces and our minds. So when the sun returns, seemingly having flown south for the winter, we doff the extra weight and hit the grass running.
There’s no reason not to apply this newly found energy it to your workspace too. So break out the Windex, everyone, here’s some advice on how to de-clutter for springtime and increase productivity on the job.
Start with what’s in front of you.
This means your desk, cubicle, office — whatever you call home when you’re at work, you should make the effort to respect as such. After all, you spend a sizable chunk of time there, you might as well be comfortable! Dust off your computer monitor. Get that lumbar support in order. Maybe it’s time to throw away those coffee cups and parking stubs. Get a new air purifying plant for your desk (I’m in the market for an Aloe vera plant — they keep easy and I’m not going to pretend that I don’t sunburn.) Take an hour to dig into your space — you’ll appreciate it once it’s done.
Assess what’s on your plate.
Work down the list of all the ambitious projects you’ve been wanting to do since August, but have been putting off to get other, more immediate work done. Cull that list down to initiatives you actually think you will accomplish, not the pipe dreams. Set aside a half, or even a whole, day to knock some of the easier projects off your list for good. If there are still items that you want to keep on the back-burner for a rainy (or snowy) day, see my notes below about project organizational tools.
Monitor your recent performance.
Tools like Toggl, a time tracking application, can tell a lot about how and where you’re spending your energy and what you could focus on more diligently. Whether you work for an agency, billing hours to many clients, or you’re in-house and want to track the time you spend on different projects, Toggl sends you weekly reports that show the concentration of your efforts. The company is releasing an insights feature soon, in an attempt to economize employee productivity.
Set some goals.
I’m a huge advocate for generating and documenting tangible goals. If you’re results-driven, like me, then you know how good it feels to check something off your list and know that it’s done. This is why the tangibility of your goals is so important — goals like “get better at responding to emails,” or “write more often,” are nebulous and you’ll never really know if you’ve achieved them. Of course you can strive towards those vague goals, but additionally, write down a few actionable, quantifiable items that you can definitively check off.
Try out new tools.
I’ve already thrown in a plug for Toggl, so I might as well keep it going. We use Trello as a project management tool to keep our team in the loop. Each client gets their own page (Trello calls it a board) and we make a to-do list for every campaign running for that client. You can comment and communicate within the lists, updating the team on the status of the campaign. If your inbox is already gasping for air, giving updates in Trello eradicates the need to send minutia via email.
Spring is springing and it’s a great time to take advantage of your renewed energy by doing some cleaning up. Start with your physical space to clear the air so you can focus more deeply on upcoming projects, goal-setting and tools that will make your life easier and more productive.