Sometimes, you need to create a mess to clear things up. Upon returning from a nice break and the Easter Holidays, I arrived at a scene in my home office that was far beyond my memory of it! Wrapping paper, receipts, Amazon Prime boxes, paperwork, and pen drives. I looked at it and felt a bit despondent; it was demotivating and seemed pretty insurmountable. Eventually, after much procrastination, I spent a good half day cleaning it up, and I also decided to use it as an opportunity to change things up a little.

I started by removing my monitors, my filing trays (full), keyboard, action figures, and just stared at my empty desk.

I think sometimes it is a little bit healthy to get stuck in a disorganised situation to gain new energy from solving it and organising it when you are ready. This could look like many different things for the different people reading this. A messy desk? A crammed inbox, a mile-long to-do list, a set of post-it notes or endless notepads of scribbles? Don’t get me wrong, these are great content and a powerful ally – provided you then annihilate them by streamlining them into the next dimension of organisation!

The key to beginning this cleaning process is knowing when ‘enough is enough’ and I don’t need to tell you when this is, as you know it in your heart, don’t you? You are already there and procrastinating on sorting it out, or you feel the pressure building. So, if you are already over the ‘disorganised’ edge, or you can see it rapidly approaching on the horizon like a scene out of Mad Max Fury Road, its time to throw it all in one place and get organised out of being deliberately unorganised.

It is amazing how much of our time is focused on trying to do the right things in terms of remaining organised (and I count myself among the people who do this!) – clearing out emails (‘must see the bottom of my inbox’), tidying (‘must shred that 3-month-old board paper), filing (must do my tax return (from last year)), organising (‘sorry it’s been two years, yeah, definitely get something in the diary for next month’). It’s a war of attrition, as the organising keeps mounting up doesn’t it? What if we look at things a different way?

Don’t hesitate, take some action and do this in your immediate working environment now:

1. Tidy your desk – yes, it’s time. Grab the papers and sort, filing (I mean, if you really need to file it – think hard on that, don’t just hoard it if you will never (ever – never ever?) need It, or if you have to, file it somewhere that is out of your eyesight, or even better – shred it. Yes, wonderfully, finally, rid yourself of it and all it represents. Get in early to do it, or stay late, if you don’t work from home, or commit to both work and home office in the same week.

2. Now actually clean your desk – you’ve done the tidying, now clean the thing. Spray it with a eco-friendly cleaning agent of your choice, and don’t forget your keyboard and mouse please (I mean – c’mon, you know where your hands have been and you know you have not done this for a while!). This activity is sometimes accused of being a bit of delay to actually doing stuff that will get you ahead and towards your goals, but personally, I find it really helps me focus on that task in reality – and hey, cleanliness is never too bad a thing right?

3. Now, rebuild your desk as you want it. Set up your desk properly; if you have a monitor, have you adjusted it? Do you have a proper office chair and you’re still sitting on the folding plastic one? Maybe it’s time to get a proper ergonomic one. Sick of those wires everywhere? Cable tie them together or tuck them away. I also really suggest getting a lamp and put it on your desk – simple, effective, regardless of whether you suffer any type of seasonal affective disorder – I think it feels good, so just do it (a lot of good inexpensive lamps are out there so zero excuses – get a cool, energy-saving lightbulb for upgrade excitement).

4. Next one is to be done offline. Turn off your Wi-Fi and consciously clean up all of your email inboxes. Be OFFLINE when you do it – when successfully offline (wow, it is so hard to do that!), reply to the emails you really need to, and file the old email you are responding to. Make this the only activity you do for a day. Yes, a day – a whole day you are thinking as you read this, possibly / likely coming out in a cold sweat. Yes, a WHOLE DAY – so this means replying to that email that is still sitting there from 4 weeks (or months ago), or agree with yourself that you won’t in fact reply for now, merely file or delete just like you did with the shredding (both are acceptable depending on your style but, if it is that old, you need to move on… honestly). Ensure that any you need to take action on or respond to will create a positive outcome for you – moving forward towards a goal, sorting out a problem that’s been on your mind or putting some positive energy into a relationship.

5. Once you’ve finished, make a to-do list. One thing that has really worked for me is having one place where I put everything – so not multiple mechanisms for capturing to-dos (this one is massively simple – and I must credit Anthony Robbins for the idea!). Try stopping having sticky notes, a notepad, and your inbox – commit to trying something like EverNote, Wunderlist or Clear for a week instead and see if you feel more organised.

So simple, you might say – did I need to read this? If you’ve recently done all points one to five, then congratulations, leave a comment and tell us how to take things to the next level.

Not done one, or all of them? Try it. Do it – today, I guarantee you’ll feel more organised and positive. Next, commit to a set of new objectives and work on a strategy to achieve them. It is not too late to make a fresh and effective start to 2018.

Good luck – you can do anything you put your mind to.

Thanks for reading – leave a comment or you can find me on Social Media @drgoevans