I have a riddle for you.
What do all of the following things have in common?
- April showers
- May flowers
- Groundhogs that don’t see their shadows
- Cleaning supplies
They are signs that spring is just around the bend!
For much of the Northeast, where I live and work, this winter has been an odd combination of days with temperatures near 50 degrees and others that brought bitter cold and storms with snow and ice. In the first week of March, we were greeted by three snow storms, each delivering three inches or more of the white stuff. I, like many of my friends and neighbors, am ready for spring!
As we think of spring as a time of renewal and fresh starts in nature, many of us also view it as an opportunity to clean and refresh our home environment. Spring cleaning can be beneficial to our businesses, too. I feel more productive and motivated when I’m organized and rid of unnecessary clutter. To follow are my tips for giving your workspace—and your attitude—a “fresh as spring” touch.
Five Ways to Clean Out and Declutter Your Physical, Virtual, and Mental Workspace This Spring
1. Clear out paper files.
Although you probably have a lot of documents that are important and must be stored, I'll bet you also have unnecessary paperwork that you can shred or dispose of. Even some once important paperwork may eventually be OK to eliminate. Several examples include credit card receipts (after a year), tax documents and related documents (after seven years), and bank statements (after three years). Review documents once a year to determine what can stay and what can go.
Using filing cabinets, bins, or even shoe boxes can work effectively for storing and organizing papers and files. Once you have items labeled and organized, you'll find it's quick and easy to sort through what you can destroy and what you need to hold onto.
2. Clear out virtual files.
You can lighten your load by purging or archiving unneeded documents and files from your email folders, your computer's recycling bin, and online systems like DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Evernote.
I try to archive files that I am not actively using at least once a year. It’s a good idea to go through your Dropbox, Google Drive, and email account folders, etc. to assess what’s still important. I recommend what I call the “two category rule.” First, identify what you no longer need, and second, determine what you may need in the future. If you don’t need a document or file and won’t ever need it again, delete it. If you may need it someday, move it to an external hard drive or a USB drive for safe keeping.
Now is also a good time to permanently delete what’s in your trash folder or recycle bin on your desktop or laptop computer and your email accounts.
Lastly, consider taking a few moments this spring to back up everything that you’re storing on your devices. Of course, you should do this regularly. But if you don't, "spring" into action and do it now to avoid the devastation you'd face if you were to lose files, pictures, and more because your device crashed.
3. Clean up your online profiles.
When was the last time you updated your profile picture on social media? Have you checked to make sure your LinkedIn profile is accurate and reflects your current responsibilities and accomplishments?
If you haven’t kept up, now’s the time to do some social media cleanup, too. Current, up-to-date social media profiles ensure you’re putting your best personal and professional brand forward.
4. Freshen up your resume and business website.
For those of you open to new career opportunities, experts say it's a good idea to have an updated resume ready to share. If you haven't reviewed your resume lately, now may be a good time to look it over and make sure your contact information is correct, your references are still valid, and your roles, responsibilities, skills, education, and certifications are accurate.
If you are a business owner, carve out some time this spring to review your website. Consider making changes that will make your site more complete, modernize its look and feel, and improve your online visitors’ experience.
5. Amend the mess on your electronics.
I mean this both physically and virtually! Cell phones get dirty from us handling them day and night. Keyboards are magnets for crumbs and dust. I admit that I don’t clean either of them nearly as often as I should.
Gross! I know. And I suspect I’m not alone.
Now is a good time to wipe down and disinfect your devices (with approved substances that won’t harm them) and blow out the crud in your keyboard with some computer cleaner.
Another problem most of us face is that we clutter the available space on our devices with apps and programs we no longer use. My tip: Re-organize your phone apps into folders, based on what you frequently use. This will help you recognize what you can remove to free up some valuable space. As a bonus, doing so will make you more productive; less busy screens make it easier and quicker to access your favorite apps.
“Spring is a true reconstructionist.” ~ Henry Timrod
This quote sums up the ultimate effect of focused spring cleaning. Taking the initiative to declutter and get organized can affect your efficiency and enthusiasm. You can also recycle metals or items containing metal that you don't need anymore. In fact, you can even get paid for most metals at scrap metal yards.
I feel renewed at the mere thought of checking these items off of my to-do list. How about you? Do you have any organization and productivity tips to share? Leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you!