Everyone knows it’s back-to-school time. Just turn on your TV, and you can’t miss it. But did you realize it’s also the season of our second “New Year.” What do I mean? Well, in the helping-people business, January 1st and when the kiddos go back to school are when most minds flip a switch and think, It’s time to get things in order!
Usually, it’s about weight loss. But for us, it concerns finances. Since I’m talking to you about leadership, I thought I would throw an idea out there you’ve probably never thought of: getting your mind organized. While there are many things you can do to accomplish this goal, there’s one that I see go unnoticed in leaders all of the time—the state of your desk. If it’s cluttered or messy, so is your mind.
People with messy desks argue, “But I know where everything is!” While I don’t doubt it, that’s not the issue. The problem? There is a stack of papers on your desk just sitting there.
Your desk should be clear with the exception of what you’re working on. Why? Because everything else is taking up space in your subconscious, telling you to do something with it. Therefore, cluttering up your mind.
So at the beginning of this second new year, it’s the perfect time to get organized, desk-wise. Here’s how:
- Check your calendar – Start by picking a Saturday to come in and completely organize your office. And remember, it’s not going to be a 30-minute task. You need hours set aside—time when you won’t be bothered by others. Then, with all your focus on the task at hand, you’ll be able to make decisions on every piece of paper you find. And no, you’re not allowed to shove stuff in drawers or closets like you did as a kid!
- Pick your favorite – Separate into two piles the tasks you must deal with immediately, and what can wait a bit but must be done soon. Then, organize the papers in order of importance, from top to bottom. When you come in Monday, you’ll know exactly where to start.
- Hate on your team members – Every job that you can’t get done in the next two weeks or the tasks you don’t need to spend time on need to be delegated to your team. Leave them little surprise stacks on their desks for Monday morning. Seriously, though, make sure you let them know ahead of time of the potential additional work coming their way. If you don’t have a team, it’s all you baby.
- Put some arch on it – Everything left needs to be filed in an idea file. If it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t matter. If it’s not an idea, it needs to be crumpled up into ball and shot like a free-throw into the trash. I know, it will be difficult for some of you who still have files from 2004, with more dust in them than paper. But hey, you’re improving your basketball skills.
At this point, you are probably surprised because you have forgotten what material the top of your desk is made of. But you should also be pretty proud of yourself. As you leave your office, your mind will be tired, as well as ready to tackle Monday.
Question: When will you do this?