Spring is a time of renewal and rejuvenation. It is often the time, especially in cold climates, when after the windows have been closed for several months, to air out the house and do thorough cleaning. We can extend the spring cleaning metaphor to decluttering other parts of our life. The idea of spring cleaning can remind us of the need to tidy up certain aspects of our work lives and careers. There are many areas that can be freshened and improved, and below are a few of the most work-relevant ones.
Declutter Your Desk
The first step is the one closest associated with traditional spring cleaning and that is to declutter your physical desk and workspace. Go through those miles of piles and decide which items to file or discard. For example, the annual reports you used for a project six months ago do not need to remain on your desk. Dirty mugs can be washed and paper cups placed in the trash. While some people have equated messy desks with creativity, coworkers and supervisors will perceive the mess as unprofessional . If your desk is tidy, you will likely be more productive because items will be easier to find and you will not risk paper and book avalanches. Take time at the end of every day to straighten your desk so that everything is in place for the next day.
Clean out your Inbox
Another spring cleaning task is to clean out your inbox. The truly ambitious may even aim for inbox zero. Create folders for specific projects, clients, or whatever makes sense for you and move emails from your inbox to the appropriate folder. Unsubscribe from newsletters you never read and Google alerts that are no longer pertinent. When an email arrives, if no action is required, it can be filed into its folder. If a message requires a simple reply, respond right away and then file it.
Update your Social Media Profiles
When was the last time you looked at your LinkedIn page? Your social media pages and LinkedIn, specifically, help to define your brand. The content must be fresh and relevant. Do you have a professional style photo? Does your job description reflect your most recent responsibilities? Become more active on LinkedIn and share posts and comment on what others are posting. For Facebook and Twitter, be aware of what you are posting and delete anything that may be deemed incriminating, controversial or insulting. Facebook posts should be more fun than those on LinkedIn and with proper privacy settings can be shared with all friends, or certain lists of friends.
By avoiding multitasking, we can clean out our minds. Constant juggling of tasks hinders one’s attention span and increases stress levels. To avoid the need to multitask, make a realistic to-do list for the day, starting with most important items and work through the list. I do realize that most people’s lists will change during the day as high-priority items are added. Each time we move from one task to another, there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain as you refocus attention on one task or another and never become fully engaged with either.
As Spring begins to spring (and yes, it will eventually happen on the east coast), take some time to think about how you can reduce the stress in your life by decluttering, which will result in greater confidence, higher energy, and a feeling that you can conquer anything. Happy Spring.