I cannot believe that this is my first blog on the subject of decluttering, as it is something I have always loved to do with an absolute passion. When I have a few spare minutes, I can often be found tidying out cupboards, deleting or destroying files or throwing things out. I love decluttering so much; I swear that if I didn’t work in travel and events, I am certain that I could carve out a new career path as a professional ‘declutterer’! It must be the organisation I am drawn to, like a moth to a flame.
Decluttering your business is definitely something to be done on an annual or regular basis. I am a firm believer in that you need to clear out the ‘old’ to allow the ‘new’ to flow in. You may have read about this as it’s often discussed on blogs and articles to assist with self development, but the same applies to your business.
If you have spare room in your filing cabinets, free space on shelves, a tidy Inbox or In Tray, then you are making room for new opportunities, new beginnings, new ideas, new initiatives and new business. It’s also fantastically refreshing and feels great to have a clean and tidy work place, so what are you waiting for?
The ‘Four D’s’ work particularly well when decluttering your work office environment, and can apply to most office based environments.
- Do – Action important items as they come to hand immediately, whether they are emails or items in your In Tray. Get things done promptly so that you can move onto other items and know that you are ticking off your ‘To Do’ list!
- Dump or Delete – If items are irrelevant, unworthy of your time or non-productive then delete or dump. Get rid of these items straight away so they are not taking up unnecessary physical space or brain space. Once it’s gone, it’s gone so you can move onto other items that are more worthy of your attention.
- Delegate – Perhaps items arrive that are not for your particular area or require a person with other skills to complete. Or perhaps it is something that can be given to someone else to assist with if you already have a lot to process. Delegate immediately to the right person or forward on so that the item can be attended to promptly and removed from your space, again leaving you free to work on things that are relevant. Time is precious so make sure you prioritise yours.
- Delay – Perhaps items have arrived for actioning that you are interested in or you are keen to pursue further, but they are not urgent and do not require immediate attention. Delay them by moving them into an ‘action’ folder or tray so that you can look at later on. BUT, do ensure you set aside a few minutes each day to look at items that you have delayed so that you do actually get to. I guess I am saying that there is not point delaying them if you are never going to look at. I once worked for a man who had 5 actual ‘In Trays’ – one marked ‘urgent’, one marked ‘very urgent’, one marked ‘extremely urgent’, one marked ‘reading’ and the final one marked ‘In Tray’. All five trays were always constantly over-flowing and needless to say, nothing much was actioned (or seemed to be actioned)! The whole thing was crazy and drove a ‘doer’ such as me insane! It is so important to action items as soon as possible, and using the ‘Four D’s’ system can help keep papers and emails controllable and enable you to be at your most productive.
A similar system can be used to clean out and tidy cupboards, shelves and drawers. Here you need to find four large boxes that you can sort things into:
- Items to keep and put away neatly… you may not even need a box for this!
- Items for the rubbish bin – if it’s broken, dirty, old or useless then throw it out or recycle! Don’t hang onto items that are unrepairable or of no use – remember it will be taking up space that could be used for something new and exciting.
- Items to be donated to charity – if things are still in great working order but you no longer have a use for them, then consider donating them so others can enjoy and obtain benefit from them.
- Items to be sold – for larger items or things that may have some monetary value, why not look at selling them on EBay, Gumtree or via community noticeboards? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and you will appreciate the few extra dollars so that you can make new purchases that may be needed.
Apply all of the above principals to all areas of your life; clear the way for new growth, new opportunities and new energy and you will see new doors start to open up for you. I guarantee this works as I carry out a declutter of my life – business and personal – on an annual basis and have done for a number of years. It is so satisfying and rewarding; and once done, all you have to do is wait for the ‘new’ to roll in!