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13 Mar

Thirteen ways to clean up when you are short of time

Datum: 2013-03-13 16:06
A hand is cleaning a window to the sky with a scraper.

In my busi­ness I am cur­rent­ly focus­ing on sim­pli­fy­ing, min­i­miz­ing and get­ting rid of mate­ri­als, tasks, and even entire parts of my busi­ness that no longer con­tribute to my progress as much as they used to but rather take more of my time and ener­gy than I would like it to.

When we sim­pli­fy, we gain access to more time, space and ener­gy to do what real­ly mat­ters to us and to the busi­ness we are work­ing in.

When life is intense, we might tend to not pri­or­i­tize tak­ing the time to clean up and clean out (which might be the best way to pri­or­i­tize at that time).

But, not much time is required to get rid of ele­ments of dis­trac­tion and what might oth­er­wise remain and annoy you. 

Any­thing but unlucky 13

Here are 13 ideas of what you can clean out if you only have ten min­utes to spare. 

  1. Open the fold­er where the doc­u­ment you most recent­ly worked on is. Remove all doc­u­ments and files you no longer need. If you have a minute or two over when you have done this, clean out the fold­er where the doc­u­ment you worked on before the last one is saved. 
  2. If you have many read and processed e‑mails in your inbox, cre­ate a sub­fold­er called Tem­po­rary” and move all these e‑mails there so that you emp­ty the inbox. Now strive to keep the inbox emp­ty all day. If hav­ing an emp­ty inbox feels good to you, read an ear­li­er blog­post about how to keep the inbox con­tin­u­ous­ly emp­ty. If you felt more com­fort­able see­ing all the e‑mails, just trans­fer them back to the inbox again. 
  3. If you have a to-do-pile on your desk, go through it and add any­thing you need to do to your to-do-list instead. File away and save the doc­u­ments you need to keep where you have your ref­er­ence mate­r­i­al (in for exam­ple binders or in a hang­ing file sys­tem). If ten min­utes isn’t enough to file it all away, at least make sure all tasks hid­den in the pile are put on the list. 
  4. If you have post­ed notes and papers as reminders around your work­space, throw any notes that are out of date so that they do not dis­tract you. 
  5. Go through your list of poten­tial clients. Remove all who you have tried to attract as clients for some time but who most like­ly will not give you a clear answer any­time soon. You will free up time for your exist­ing clients and poten­tial clients who seem more interested. 
  6. Go through the shelf where you keep wires, charg­ers and adap­tors to phones, print­ers, exter­nal hard dri­ves and oth­er equip­ment you have pur­chased through the years. Throw away any that belong to equip­ment you have dis­posed of or no longer use. It will now be eas­i­er to find the wire you need when the bat­tery dies.
  7. Deal with the to be sorted”-pile you have put aside to deal with lat­er”, when you imag­ined that you would have more time. Sort through as much as you can in ten minutes. 
  8. Browse through your con­tacts in Out­look (or a sim­i­lar tool) and erase all the peo­ple you can­not remem­ber who they are. 
  9. Erase or file away all the doc­u­ments on your com­put­er desk­top. Short­cuts are exempt­ed, but files you need to find eas­i­ly when you are look­ing for them are best placed amongst sim­i­lar files con­cern­ing the same top­ic. If it turns out that you have saved some­thing on the desk­top so that you will not for­get to do some­thing with it, phrase what you need to do as a to-do-task and add it to your to-do-list instead. OK, now you can save the file where it is sup­posed to be. 
  10. Skim through the pile of mate­ri­als you need to read (be it dig­i­tal or phys­i­cal) and remove all the mate­r­i­al you at some point intend­ed to read but which no longer are either rel­e­vant or appealing. 
  11. Skim through your e‑mail inbox and unsub­scribe to all newslet­ters you nev­er read any­ways (and most like­ly will not want to read in the future). After doing this, you can look for­ward to receiv­ing at least a few e‑mails less every week.
  12. Look through as much of your prod­uct range you have time for in ten min­utes. Make a note of what prod­ucts or ser­vices that no longer con­tribute as much to the attain­ment of your goals as you would like. For each of these prod­ucts, define the first step towards dis­man­tling as a to-do-task and add it to your to-do-list. 
  13. Take an emp­ty paper (or open your favorite writ­ing app) and write down every­thing that is on your mind for five min­utes. Spend the next five min­utes sift­ing out to-do-tasks and projects from what you have writ­ten down, and add them to your to-do-list and your project overview, thus mak­ing it eas­i­er to go from thought to action. 

It gives you more time than the ten min­utes it requires

If you take ten min­utes now to clean­ing out and rid­ding your­self of any excess or irrel­e­vant, you will have more space over for the mate­r­i­al and tasks which are actu­al­ly impor­tant. It will be eas­i­er to find what you need and you will get less dis­tract­ed by triv­i­al­i­ties dur­ing your workday.

If you are any­thing like me or most peo­ple I meet, you will also feel a sense of relief and free­dom. This is, at least to me, worth these ten min­utes of work. 

How did you do it?

What did you choose to clean out and what was the effect of doing so? Feel free to email me a com­ment on your experiences.

(And of course, the amount of stuff you clean must be rea­son­able.)

A woman sits in an armchair, sipping a drink and watching a 50's style TV.

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