human resources management / entrepreneurship small business

Oh, no! Spring Cleaning! Oh, yes! Productivity Jumps!

Okay, maybe you don’t react to the first signs of Spring with a “Wow, let’s get rid of the clutter and mess!” moment. Not my first thought certainly! Mine runs to the beauty: trees turning every shade of green, flowers poking up, and the rainbow which flowering trees and shrubs add.

But clearing out the clutter is well worth a bit of your time and effort.  At work, spring cleaning can be a great way to re-focus on what is important. Whether you do a marathon clean one day or 30 minutes each morning for two weeks, you can enhance your effectiveness and productivity.

I just got rid of three boxes of old paper files –the client sold his company in 2005. And a fast review of those piles around my desk resulted in more things going into the recycle bin than the action box. My vice is paper – books, articles, research papers, clippings. Yours may be all the stuff you get at trade shows, business cards from meeting, or the business development ideas you have stuffed everywhere. Clean it all out! Either take action or make it go away.

Most offices have duplicate copies of files, business records, and client information. Keep a master, as needed.  Get rid of all the copies. Then treat yourself to a small reward. If you have staff, you can make it a game. Offer a prize for the most paper put into recycle boxes. Sure, you need to have some guidelines so that you do not lose some valuable information but simple ones will suffice. And everyone will have an easier time finding what they need, storing the stuff that they currently are piling up, and getting on to important achievements. One 20 person client did that and got rid of over a thousand pounds of paper and a small room’s worth of old equipment and furniture.

Do you have unused equipment, furniture, or supplies? Donate them to a local non-profit for a tax deduction. Electronics you no longer use? recycles them, as does Goodwill. More stuff than you realized? Have a sale. Free your space, free your mind, and feed your community all at once.

Don’t forget your computer – how many old files do you have? Or unused versions of software or apps or games? Organize your master files on a back-up so you too can throw out those old file boxes. And then clean up whatever you really need to retain at hand too.

To make a real impact at work, clean out your old policies and practices.  Review how you work. What are you doing mindlessly or ‘just because’ ? Too many of us have practices which are not actually needed or no longer relevant. Yet they clog up the works and divert attention from more important issues. Make time to look at each area of your business and see what you could stop doing. Ask your staff for ideas too.  Update your networking too – what is worth your effort and time?  What is not?

Can you feel yourself growing lighter? Your business getting faster? Do you reach for something and find it immediately now? The rewards for a good spring cleaning once were reductions in illnesses and discomfort at home. You can still achieve some of that at home and at work.

More importantly, a little time on spring cleaning at work can free your mind and your workspace. It helps you get back to doing the work that you love and to growing your business meaningfully. So grab your recycle bin, pull out the dusting gloves, line up your donations, and fill those trash cans!

Patricia A. Frame is an experienced management consultant, HR executive, speaker, and author on human capital issues. She is known for her ability to address organizational goals and issues effectively and to create human resource management practices which support these goals without excessive administrivia. Patricia has advised executives and boards on a wide range of human capital and strategic planning issues. She has expertise in organization development, talent management, process restructuring, compensation, and training. She has worked with technology-based companies, government contractors, non-profits, associations, and retail operations. She advises small to mid-size organizations on ways to succeed and to help their employees thrive. Ms. Frame has given seminars for SBDC in recent years on the basic processes of HR management. Additionally, she generously provides one-to-one HR counseling once a month through Alexandria SBDC.

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