With any luck, the weather where you are has begun to suggest that spring may be on the way. (To those yet stuck in another interminable winter, keep the faith.) And with the slightly warmer weather comes the annual tradition of spring cleaning, in addition to the cleaning we’re now all doing all the time for reasons we can choose to forget for the moment. While I’m not generally a fan of arbitrary markers for goals or events (see: New Year’s resolutions), it’s no use trying to buck a trend, particularly when it’s one that can actually serve a useful purpose.
A woman worker cleaning with antivirus wet wipe a laptop and a working office desk before starting … [+]
Broadly speaking, spring cleaning is about clearing out your house or garage or any area where items accumulate, getting rid of the things that no longer serve a purpose or are taking up too much space. That push towards cleaning and reordering is also a time to sort through every aspect of your life and your work to see what could stand to be changed or parted with.
We all tend to accumulate not only stuff that we no longer need but habits and behaviors that are equally ill-suited to our current condition or mindset. Sometimes we continue to act and think as we did when we were at the earliest stages of our business, even when we’ve reached a point of relative maturity and stability. And while it’s good to stay focused and motivated and avoid complacency, we also need to think and make decisions based on our current circumstances, not based upon where we are in our altered perception.
As those circumstances change, we should take the opportunity presented to step back and look at our plans and strategies to see if they’re still aligned with what we want and what we hope to achieve. Our minds can get as cluttered as our spaces with all of the quotidian events and problems that come with running business day-to-day; occasionally we’re so focused on the things right in front of us, and the problems that feel the most urgent at the moment, that we can lose sight of the bigger picture, at least briefly. Cleaning means prioritizing, figuring out what’s important and what isn’t, and that same energy can help you realign towards your biggest goals.
Sometimes, spring cleaning isn’t a metaphor for rethinking and reordering ourselves and our plans for our business; sometimes we just have a lot of stuff in our offices that needs to go. Maybe you’re already fanatical about getting rid of anything unnecessary in your workspace, and if so, kudos to you. For most of us, our desks and offices become a manifestation of not only our habits but our minds: cluttered, somewhat organized but only in a manner that makes sense to us, and ultimately larded with things no longer serving any purpose beyond taking up room and becoming part of the landscape. There are documents that need to be filed, pages of notes stacked upon older notes, none of which can be deciphered so far out from their creation, and doubtless some swag from trade shows or conferences. All of it feels like a part of the office itself, and none of it likely needs to stay as it is.
Cleaning out your office can feel a bit like spinning your wheels if you’re someone that takes on chores to procrastinate work you don’t want to do, but it can be useful in and of itself. Regardless of where you stand on the “cluttered desk/cluttered mind” notion, at least going through what you have and putting it in some sort of order will serve you well on the occasion that you do actually need to find something from months ago. Minimally, it will open up space for you to collect more stuff, at which point you will repeat the process in a year’s time.
Should we tie in our work to the seasons, and thus to the conventions that go with the seasons? We’re not animals looking to hibernate, after all, and those who might say that we should always look to declutter every element of our work wouldn’t be wrong in that argument. But few of us actually live up to that ideal and finding a point that we can fix in our mind to tackle the work of cleaning out our spaces and readjusting our minds serves to ensure that more people take on the work rather than skipping it. Take advantage of the opportunities that we have to make improvements, and don’t be afraid to clear out the old to make way for the new.