Every year as Spring arrives I have this urge to do Spring cleaning. Decluttering. Giving things to charity. Planning out the rest of the year. Or at least the next two months. Heck, it would help to know what I should be doing this afternoon.
This urge to do Spring cleaning is so strong that it actually inspires me to get off the couch and do things! And let me tell you, we have a very comfy couch. It’s even comfier when the two of us are snuggled on it.
But our web-wizard David asked me for a picture to go with a special sale on a ‘Spring Cleaning’ package I went and grabbed a bunch of brushes, buckets, mops, cleansers and snapped a photo.
After I sent it off, I was inspired to start doing a bit of cleaning, starting with my desk, and the side desk, then the floor, the bulletin board, the shelves, the edit suite…
Spring Cleaning My Brain
That’s when I remembered something a professional organizer told me when I spoke at their conference a few years ago. (It was an amazing group, called the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. I didn’t realize that they are a group of elite organizers.)
The woman, and I apologize for not remembering her name, pointed out that organizing isn’t about just your ‘stuff’, or having a tidy desktop, but also having a tidy and organized computer with things sorted and labeled so you can find them easily.
It’s also about having your scheduled organized, a system in place to know whether to say yes or no to requests, and when to schedule them. It’s also about having your social life, health and exercise practices, and even your spiritual life managed so it’s working for you.
Up until that moment my list of tasks for spring cleaning was basically a list of the rooms in the house.
“Tidy My Office” Was Priority #1.
… and then Basement, Garage, Closets, The Car, various shelves and storage units., and so on.
And I realized that cleaning up the files on my computer was probably going to be more helpful, provide me with more peace, and eliminate far more frustration than going through the boxes of books in the basement.
I also realized that with at least 100,000 files on my computer this was not going to be a one day project. Which means to organize my computer I need to plan it out. I have to be organize how I’ll manage the organizing.
Step One will be listing all the steps I can think of.
Step Two will be listing them in order of importance. (Which I may then review with my coach, who always sees things from a fresh perspective.)
Step Three will be doing whatever is at the top of the list.
Managing Overwhelm Feels Overwhelming
Step One and Two may strike you as ‘a ton of work.’ It certainly felt like it to me. My first reaction was, “I’ll need a full weekend to plan this out. This weekend is busy… So is next weekend… I might squeeze it into the following weekend…”
But one of the things I’ve learned about Clutter, Time Management, Disorganization, etc.. is that you probably need to do more planning then you’d would normally do, but not nearly as much as you fear you might have to.
At first glance those first two steps look like a days work.
I’m going to find out. I’ll save what I’ve written and get started on Step One and then come back to this after I’ve finished Step Two.
(INSERT MUSIC INDICATING PASSAGE OF TIME.)
Forty One Minutes Later
It took me 41 minutes. Not a whole weekend as I feared. It didn’t even consume a whole morning.
I’m sure I’ll be adding tasks to the list as I start sorting through all the stuff my hard drive. I also know the biggest challenge will be to organize one folder before going on to another folder or being sidetracked by something I rediscover along the way, “Oh, right, these photos are great! I should post them on Instagram!”
Anyway, if you’re going to be doing Spring cleaning (Which, I know, is Autumn cleaning for those of you living in the Southern Hemisphere)… consider taking 5 minutes, or a whole even 41 minutes alone or with family members, figure out what will give you the most bang for the buck, what is the worst problem, the biggest frustration, and choose to start with that one.
As physicist Steven Hawking said, “We should seek the greatest value for our action.”
After identifying my top priority comes the hardest task in the entire world… Starting.
I’m Too Tired. It’s Too Big…
… I can’t afford the time, I’m too busy, I’ll start tomorrow, I’ll save it for when I have a free day.” I haven’t had a free day since 1968.
Starting is the biggest challenge for me. Doing that first thing.
I always resist it, until I remind myself that whenever I take that first step, whether it’s unrolling the yoga mat, getting the vacuum cleaner, starting a script, or sorting the first piece of paper in the pile, I have momentum. Taking one action, however small, gets me in motion.
And once I’m moving it’s natural, almost easy, to keep going.