Here come the flowers, the softer warmer breezes, and new growth in every area of the northern hemisphere! It is May: Here comes Spring!
I don’t know about you, but the Spring Clean was a big thing in the home of my youth. It was a chance to clear the cobwebs from hunkering down and hibernating in the winter. Dust gathered; the house had been closed up for months and needed some fresh air. Everything needed to see the sunshine and feel the fresh clean breeze.
I think we don’t consider that our work lives need the same re-invigoration.
Things can get really stale with the daily grind. It’s time to think of some new ways to freshen our work lives and ourselves. My intention is to offer you ideas to challenge yourself. I will identify approaches to spark a different way to advance your work in order to re-engineer some of your daily processes, time and distraction management, and to organize yourself. Let's spring clean and give your workspace some freshness! Let’s start with the most important things: your brain and your health.
Empty Your Working Memory
In David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done, I took away one of the most important things that has changed my life, and I practice it two times a year: The Brain Dump.
A little science for you: In your pre-frontal cortex lies your ability to solve complex problems, consequential thinking, forethought, and your working memory. Let's call the working memory RAM. Everyone here knows that if you have too many programs open on your computer, the machine starts to slow down and eventually crashes. The same thing happens with your pre-frontal cortex.
When we keep many things in our short-term memory (RAM), it slows down our thinking (i.e., time to paint the house, where’s my fishing pole, don’t forget to pick up milk on the way home, I really want to go to France, where’s that do-hicky I need? Don’t forget to get the lawn mower blades sharpened, etc!). We should never think about something more than once, so the suggestion is to write it down and get it out of your head.
The Brain Dump is just that; write down everything you hold in your working memory. Once you get it all out of your head, apply the 4Ds.
- If it takes less than 2 minutes DO IT
- Otherwise, DEFER IT, make room for the task on your calendar
- Or, DELEGATE IT, get someone else to do it
- Finally, DELETE IT, just recognize you won’t and stop thinking about it.
The first time I attempted this Brain Dump, I had 428 things on the list that I had been holding in my working memory. I went to bed with the list and during the night all the things that had been squished by the other items popped up. In the morning, I had 495 things on the list.
I began by identifying my DOs (2 minutes or less). That day I was able to get more than 65 things done and crossed off. Of course, that gave me a sense of mastery and empowerment. I finished up by applying the rest of the Ds, and the list was completed in short order.
Now, I make this a practice twice a year. What I was so very surprised with after I do this is how fast my brain is able to function. I didn’t realize that I was “clogged” with all the things I had to think about. You will find this an amazing tool when you practice it.
Take Care of Your Health
I coached this executive who was very badly behaved. At his 10 o’clock team meeting, he would rant and rage at his team and, of course, they would leave totally demoralized and upset. This happened every day. Needless to say, the team was in danger, and the executive was on his way out of the company.
Let’s call him Joe. So, Joe was a big guy, a really big guy, and he got maybe four hours of sleep every night. He just was not taking care of himself. He didn’t eat until 1:00 pm and for him, at that time, that was not a good thing. He was in fact eating his team for breakfast. We made some small adjustments in his sleep, very gradually adding 15 minutes every week until he was at 7 hours and added some nuts, fruit, and water before his meetings. The change was magnificent and immediate.
Our jobs are not easy, to say the least. No one is going to take care of you but you. We are hijacked and stressed out all day, and then many of us go home to a stressful living situation or have a long stressful commute.
No one is going to take care of you but you.
My encouragement to you this spring is to look at your habits of how you eat and sleep. Protect yourself, care for yourself, monitor your sugar and refined carbohydrate intake, add 15 minutes of sleep for your brain and body health over time, and get yourself to at least 7 hours a night. Live long and prosper!!!
Examine Your Work Space
Now let’s focus on your physical environment in the office. Here’s are some simple ideas to take there:
- Clean: Bring in your cleaning solutions and dust rags. Wipe down your desk, shelves, chair, and other surfaces.
- Drawers: Go through your drawers, throw things away, and separate items that got mangled.
- Shelves: Clean ‘em up! Make room for new books and give others away.
- File Cabinet: If you have one! Take the time to go thru and update folders, sort, throw away, and archive.
- Computer: Set up new folders, file old docs, and delete things that are not needed. Clean your desktop up. Give yourself a new display to look at or a new color palette.
- Empty your INBOX! It’s an “IN-box.” Things should not stay there! I know you have 10,000 emails in there, and it is not going to happen overnight. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, slowly! Give yourself an extra five minutes at the end of every day to accomplish that task. Before you know it, every night your inbox will be empty, and you will have a sense of release and freedom that you have not had for years. This one changes your life; it really does!
I am sure you will find other things to add to your spring cleaning list, and if you do, write them down, and get them out of your head!
Your environment does reflect what is happening on the inside of you. In these three areas, take care of YOU and watch yourself feel much better, more energetic, clearer in your thinking, and ready to take on a billion projects that are coming your way.
Deborah Monroe is one of eighteen Master EQ practitioners in the world, through the Global EQ Community of 6 Seconds. She's also an associate with the Institute for Organizational Performance and an HDI business associate. Working with all levels of executive leadership, management, and individual contributors, Deborah concentrates on integrating humans and process to create a balanced working environment. Her aim is to build understanding and empathy, creating a positive bottom line through employee and customer retention.