If you want advice about telling a good story, I’m your man. If you want someone to keynote your next conference, I’m your man. If you want someone to give expert time management advice about how to save time . . . sorry, I’m not the guy.
Having said that, let me tell you—as one of the greatest time wasters I know, I do know how to salvage the best of the time I have. Many people say I work best under pressure; I can’t remember a time I was not operating like that. So I try to get the best out of the small amount of time I have left for the project at hand.
One of the greatest time killers for me is hunting, and I don’t even own a gun! The hunt I go on each day is to find the vital piece of information I need to complete the task at hand. I know I have it here, because I put it on a green Post-it note (actually, I think it is on the back of a green Post-it). So, this week I took time to clean my desk off and update my files. It’s quite a project. I set up a second table in my office and took everything off my desk—I mean everything.
After getting down to bare, wood-grain paper-covered particle board, I began. Item by item, I decided what needed to be on my desk and what did not. Each item that returned to the desk was given a complete dusting, to give it that ‘new office’ look! This does two things: it gets rid of a few dust bunnies that took up residence on my desk, and it gives me time to really consider if I want or need this item back on my desk. I can’t tell you how many items got a good cleaning on their way to the desk and never made it there.
Once I determined the big stuff—computer, monitors, keyboard, lamps, studio mic, and other desktop classics—I moved on to the small stuff. First, I sorted all the pens and pencils I unearthed in the excavation. I am a pen snob and found enough of my favorite uni-ball Jetstream 207 1.0 to fill my pen cup. The rest of the pens were donated to my wife’s pen cup, the pen cup in our kitchen, and The Abyss.
The Abyss is a drawer every office needs, where stuff goes to die—every other year, The Abyss is dumped into a box and the 4 or 5 items deemed worthy go back into the drawer to seed new Abyss items, while the box is tossed.
From pens, we moved on to the higher functioning items like letter openers, paperclips, scissors, highlighters, and self-inking stamps (yes, I worked at Office Max). Now the desk was looking almost complete. Add the needed paperpro low-impact stapler, a stand for my phone, and a GodPonders mouse pad, and we are good to go.
But, then I was left with a mound of paper and miscellaneous items on the other table, which as I write is greatly reduced but still present. The rule is that the table stays until all the items find a home—that is NOT my desk top! Time and inertia took care of some of the items and they hold no importance anymore since their information is now outdated. These items find themselves divided among the shredder, the recycle bin, and the trash.
The items still considered viable and salvageable worked their way into file folders—some of which existed, but most of which did not. The lack of a file folder is what brought them to the landfill of my desk to begin with. I know some of you are wishing there was a before-and-after picture, but it just wasn’t possible—it wasn’t until day 2 that I found my camera. (I’m one of those people who still believe phones were created for texting and not for photos.)
All of this moving stuff about accomplishes several things:
- It allows me to check off “Clean Desk,” which has been on my “to-do list” since February 3, 2015.
- It relocates that lost Panera Gift Card that still holds $3.75 (last used in 2004).
- It offers me a great sense of accomplishment and allows me to catch up on my Netflix backlog while I sort stuff.
While those things are important and worth celebrating, the greatest benefit is in the long haul:
- It frees me from wondering and worrying about what I might be missing, buried in the piles.
- It allows me the “space” to be creative. Whatever jokes may be circulating about a clean desk, the truth is you really CAN be more creative in a less cluttered environment.
- It inspires me. As I make file folder tags for the papers headed to the file, I also make folders for the things I hope to accomplish this year.
- Finally, as someone who suffers from bouts of depression, it gives me a couple days of solid productive work that leads to days of great productivity.
So, if you want to stop by for a surprise visit and catch me working in my office with the door open, this is your week! My prayer for you in this coming year is that you and I will both take the time to invest upfront the hard work needed to make this year the best year ever!
Now, I have to work on un-cluttering my morning routine and investing upfront for a day in the Kingdom that makes a difference. What makes your mornings great? Let me know in the comments below—my morning routine is a work in progress . . . more on that later.