Welcome to 2010

Happy New Year!  Here’s hoping 2010 is a better year for everyone than, say, 2009.  Eek!

We like to think of the New Year as a way to clear the decks and start over again, and if it’s the beginning of a decade, so much the better!  Here are some tips that help me get a new year at work started.

Have a Plan: OK, so it’s already January 4th and you’ve probably landed back in the middle of whatever projects you were hoping would just go away over the holidays.  If you’re frantically trying to catch up, here’s how I get focused.  Stop whatever it is you are doing.  Grab a pencil and a small piece of paper (no bigger than an index card).  Close your eyes and just concentrate on your breathing for a minute.  When you open your eyes, jot down what you have to accomplish on the paper.  You can flip it over to the back, but you’re not allowed to use more than one piece.  Why?  Having to fit everything on a small piece of paper will force you to stick to what’s most important and stop you from trying to do everything at once.  Once you get it down, it should be easier to figure out what to do first.

Clear a Space: I can’t be the only one who walks back into my workspace after vacation to find it covered with stuff other people left for me to do or to see, with the remains of my last day buried below like a mini Pompeii.  A simple way to avoid (or to clear away!) this scenario is to get a big (and I mean enormous!) wire basket and put it on a corner of your desk.

Flipping Enormous Wire Basket

When I say huge, I mean flipping enormous

This basket is your friend.  Train your coworkers to use this as your inbox instead of taping stuff to your phone, your computer monitor, or sitting things in your chair.  If you come back to a huge mess, scoop up everything that’s unfamiliar and put it in the basket.  Figure out what your priorities are first, then worry about the stuff in the basket.  If you’re distracted because of clutter on desktop, try clearing off something the size of your desk in grade school by moving things to your basket.  I inherited my basket when I came to the Main Library.  I love it.

Calendars: If you still keep a paper one, decide how long you might want to keep it & then file it away.  You don’t need to keep it forever, but you might not want to toss December’s items into the recycling bin just yet.  Pick a date to toss it and until then, store it out of sight.  Make a note in your new calendar to toss it when it’s time has come.  While you’re at it, make sure you move forward anything from your old calendar that still needs doing in the new year.  I prefer electronic calendars that let you set up an email, pop-up, or text message reminder because it will get your attention if you have a hard time getting in the habit of checking your calendar daily.

Look Around You: Once your first-day-back fires are put out, take a look around you.  Has that picture been hanging in the sun so long that the colors are fried?  Are the photos of your family getting a little, shall we say, dated?  Has the highlighter evaporated off that memo from 2 years ago stuck on your monitor?  Is your plant more gray from dust than green (or brown, depending on how often you remember to water)?  Clean up the place for heaven’s sake!  Use alcohol to clean your mouse, keyboard, and telephone.  Dust your plant with a damp cloth so it (and you) don’t have to breathe through dust & allergens.  Move some of the office supplies you’re hoarding to a common storage area and keep only what you’re actively using.

Get Started:  At some point, you’re just going to have to face the facts: no amount of clutter, dust, calendar management, wire baskets or extraneous papers can make the holidays last one day longer.  You just have to dive in and start working.  Speaking of that, what are you doing still reading this blog?  Get started with what you’ve got to get done in 2010!

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