A couple of years ago, I read the book by Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizational consultant, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Kondo started a de-cluttering revolution and I had heard about it so often, I took the plunge and bought the book and delved into her recommendations.
In short, she suggests her unique process of physically touching each item and asking yourself “does this bring me joy?” If the answer is “no”, the item has to go after you bless it and thank it for its service. Her second point is that only if your item does bring you joy, it must be put in a visible and easy to access place. According to Kondo, after this process is done, you may never have to de-clutter again.
I’m one of those people who loves New Year – not necessarily going out and staying up all night celebrating in Times Square (I did that once in 1985 and it’s yet to make it back on to my bucket list) – but because it’s a time to re-set intentions for the New Year.
For me, this desire of de-cluttering started around the holidays – which surprised me as I also hauled out holiday decorations and purchased poinsettias and greenery starting the day after Thanksgiving. Maybe because I’ve recently moved and although my place is much more organized than maybe any other home I’ve lived in, I got the bug to go deeper.
Very few things make me feel better and ready to face the world than having organized closets, cabinets and handbag, “junk” drawer . . . you get the picture. When you work more often than not on a “solo” basis from a home office, it’s even more important to clear the clutter so it’s not nagging at you when you need to meet a deadline, but you’d rather fold and put away three loads of laundry. For everyone else who works outside the home, how nice would it be to come home to a well-organized, uncluttered home environment. Nice.
So this year, 2018, I started to think about what more I could do to continue the clean out regarding my work and came up with this list.
Prioritize What Needs to be Done: Not all work is created equally. I’m trying to identify the things I really need to do myself, start, or manage effectively and try to delegate the rest. For example, I write this newsletter then hand it off to Mireia who manages my database, layout and distribution. It gets done that way and I’m using my strength and Mireia is using hers (to keep me organized and on deadline).
Have a Clear Idea About What Does NOT Need to be Done: You know what I mean, right? I guess this is the opposite point of my first. Knowing what NOT to do is important as well. Think strategically about what you are choosing to do and if it really matters. In every industry, priorities may be different. For me, it’s about connecting with people and entities who I can assist them in reaching their goals (speak to the ways they can increase patient and consumer satisfaction, build loyalty, referrals, and ultimately increase revenues). If it doesn’t fit this goal, it might not be worth doing myself . . . or at all. Oftentimes, we do things because we resist doing what needs to be done. Stop procrastinating.
Do the Most Important Three Things at the Beginning of the Day: The reason to do this is a simple one. You’ll feel much more accomplished earlier in the day and when that happens, it’s easier to tackle the rest of what’s on your list knowing the big important issues have been dealt with.
Take Advantage of Inspired Action: When things are going well – you’ve make a new contact, secured a meeting with someone you want to speak with, landed a new contract – this is the time to build upon that momentum. It’s not the time to book a vacation, or take the rest of the day off. Here’s why. There are so many times that you may not feel “in the groove” and it may be ok to stop, get organized for the next day and see a movie (my preferred distraction). However, when things are flowing easily and you’re making progress or meeting with success, strike while the iron is hot and you’re in a good mood and place to keep it up.
Understand What You Need Help With: I was talking to two colleagues, coaches and dear friends of mine, Jeff and Melissa. He shared with me that he’s a finisher, but finds it impossible to start things. I’m the opposite – I love starting projects but desperately need help in bringing these to a completion (in my own business – not true for my clients . . . ). Jeff says he handles it by asking for help in getting a project started and then he absolutely can NOT, NOT finish it. Melissa said the same thing. Thinking of not finishing something makes her almost physically ill. Not for me. The thought of not starting the project I’m dying to get underway would be a killer for me. It’s ok not to be perfect at everything, but a little insight into your own work style and personality can help to both begin and conclude a work initiative.
Make a To Do List at the End of Each Day: I have two running lists – the personal to-do’s as well as the professional to-do’s and I try to prioritize each of them, again, so the big or most important issues get tackled first. It’s a great way to end the day, knowing that I’ll be ready (and won’t forget) what needs to happen the next day.
I’m far from being a perfect at the issues I just laid out, however, this year – I’m going to make a concerted effort to follow my own advise and ask myself each day:
Have I prioritized what really needs to be done today?
Am I clear on what does NOT need to be done today (or ever).
What are the three most important things I need to get done at the beginning of this day? Am I actually doing the three things that are of the highest priority?
Take advantage of inspired action by continuing to work – resist taking the day off.
Identify what you need help completing and ask someone on your team or find someone who can help fill the void of work you’re not doing.
Make a To Do List at the End of Each Day
Your list of things you’d like to accomplish in 2018 might look nothing like mine and that’s ok. We all need to determine what we’d like to accomplish in 2018 and be honest with ourselves about what has the best likelihood of working.
As always, I wish you the happiest, healthiest and most prosperous of New Years! Go get ‘em!