When I started writing this article it was going to be about simplifying our work processes so that we could streamline our day to day work. I was going to give you a list of 10 tips and techniques to help you streamline your processes. BOOOORING and DONE!
As I sat here looking at my desk pondering what to write, I realized that controlling my clutter on my desk was probably the best way to simplify my workload.
I try hard not to collect paper. Really I do, but I’m like a paper magnet. Every time I go to a meeting, I get paper. If I go out networking, I get paper. What you might not know though, is that I am NOT a paper sorter. I collect it and then it sits on the corner of my desk … going “NAH-NAH, NAH-NAH… you need to deal with me!!!” Maybe no-one else’s paper piles egg them on, but mine do. They suck the energy right out of me!
So yesterday, instead of writing the boring and already over-done article on the 10 tips to simplifying your workload, I tackled my ever noisy (nah-nah), and heavy, paper pile demon. I labeled files; I alphabetized them; I sorted through the paper piles and put papers in the appropriate files or recycled them; I put a few in Lily’s inbox to be processed (sorry Lily!). Today, my desk is clean, dusted, organized, and clutter free!
I feel lighter, more relaxed; like I have clarity around what I need to do, and that I can use my time more effectively. And that is simply because I cleaned off my desk. Now that the first part of the job is done, I have to wonder why I don’t keep it this way. It’s not hard to ensure that papers get filed in the right place, or to alphabetize the files when I put them away, or to sort through what I need and don’t need. Yet, I don’t do it!
Here in lies the problem with most efforts we make to simplify our world. We know what we need to do, and in many cases we set aside the time to set up a system that does streamline our work and make things easier. Where we fail is on the follow-thru over the long-haul.
We fall back to our old habit of “I’ll do that tomorrow; I don’t have time today.” Suddenly the pile is back. The new system isn’t being used. Those thank you cards aren’t going out. You know the drill.
The key is that we start the systems and we implement them, but we don’t stick to them.
So, rather than talking about how to simplify things, I think we instead need to examine our mindset about changing our habits. They say that anything that you do for 21 days in a row will become a habit.
What if I processed papers collected during the day at the end of each day: Filed some, recycled some. What if I did that for 21 days? Wouldn’t it stand to reason that I’d develop a new habit? It’s worth a try. For the next 21 days, I commit to spending fifteen minutes processing ALL papers and returning files to their appropriate places. Hmm, I wonder….
What new habit do you need to integrate into your daily life that will help simplify your workload? What will commit to doing to make this new habit a reality? It may be uncomfortable, it may be challenging, but then living in the “uncomfortable zone” where growth happens, often is.
Commit to making one change this month… and be sure to share your commitment and your results in the comments below.