By Julie Morgenstern, @
You know what’s great about summer? Time. The days stretch, the kids don’t have homework, and the sun stays out till 9:00pm. We’re more relaxed, have more energy and more time to spare.
This summer think about using the extra time on your hands to finally declutter — to rid yourself of all the stuff weighing you down, getting in your way, and stealing your energy. Tackle just one category at a time- papers, email, supplies, books and digital files, and don’t feel obliged to do everything. Decluttering even ONE category of items will pay huge dividends is freed up space, time and energy.
Here are 4 steps to successfully decluttering:
First, define your treasures. Before getting rid of anything, consider your work goals and roles to assess what items will help you and those that won’t. When facing intimidating piles and drawers., ask yourself—if all this were gone tomorrow, what would I miss? Write down the list that comes to mind (e.g. original signed contracts, key contact info, handwritten notes) on a big sticky note, and post that on the wall of the area you are about to declutter. This will guide you in separating treasure from trash.
Create a No-Brainer Toss List: Minimize the number of decisions you have to make by creating guidelines for stuff you don’t have to think twice before shedding. Immediately chuck old manuals & reports that have since been updated, documents that someone else has the original of, and you can replace if necessary, printouts from the web, out of date information, duplicates, etc.
Check retention guidelines . Going through your legal files? Call your lawyer. Old payroll? Ring the accountant. Remember that 80% of what we file we never look at again. So be sure that it’s necessary for you to keep anything and everything that will take up valuable space in your file drawer. Don’t save things you “might” need someday if they are easily replaced.
Aim for a radical release. Once you’ve separated the treasures from trash…get the trash OUT. If you have objects to donate, arrange delivery to a charity. If you have large volumes of papers to shred, don’t let them sit around for months cluttering up your space (and messing with your mental clarity). You should be able to measure the space gained in pounds (removed 100 pounds of excess supplies from the storage closet)—or inches (removed 50 inches of files…).
The ultimate payoff? Clarity, “lightness of being,” and an energized space that brings out your most authentic, engaged, professional self.